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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2007
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The viewing coffin Bob and Lynn Schofield use to dole out Halloween candy.
Daily photo by Deangelo McDaniel
The viewing coffin Bob and Lynn Schofield use to dole out Halloween candy.

Candy in a casket
Hartselle family uses old viewing coffin to serve Halloween trick-or-treaters

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you take your children to Booth Meadows Subdivision trick-or-treating tonight, you will get treats.

When you stop in the 1100 block of Ridgecrest Lane, you will also get a trick.

That wooden box on the front lawn of Bob and Lynn Schofield’s home is no ordinary box. It’s a coffin with its usual nest of candy.

For 364 days, the three-piece viewing coffin Bob Schofield purchased two years ago at an estate auction stays in a guest bedroom.

On Halloween night, it is filled with candy for children who trick-or-treat in the neighborhood.

“It’s funny to sit here and watch the kids because they don’t know what it is,” he said. “They just want the candy. The parents are a different story. You should see some of the looks on their faces.”

Schofield bought the coffin at a Jim Norman auction in 2005. It was the first item in the estate sale.

The bidding started at $50. He made a $100 bid and no one followed.

“Most people use them for bars and coffee tables,” Schofield said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I wanted it.”

He estimates that the coffin is about 100 years old, weighs about 75 pounds and was made for a six-foot, slender man.

The coffin is in three pieces. The base holds the body. Fancy millwork fits over the base. A flat panel that can be removed to view the entire body, or a part of it, turns back so you can see the face only.

There is no padding inside, suggesting that the coffin was never completed or the padding was used for something else.

“I don’t think it’s ever been used,” he quipped.

Robert Peck owns Peck Funeral Home in Hartselle. His father, James Elliotte Peck, owned a hardware store downtown that sold coffins.

“Sometimes people made their own casket and came in the store to purchase the handles and lining,” Peck said.

Peck Funeral Home was part of the father’s hardware store business until it moved to U.S. 31. Peck says Schofield’s coffin is “pretty old” because people have not purchased coffins “in a long time.”

So, what do you do if you’re at an auction with your husband and he starts bidding on a coffin?

“He bids on his stuff, and I bid on mine,” Lynn Schofield said. “Plus, I knew it wasn’t for me. I think it’s a neat piece and is really unusual. How many other people have a coffin in their house?”

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