The Lost Art Of The Long-Form Obituary

The brothers LeProwse, circa 1922: Barzillai, Glendower and Trevelian

As relatives go, Glendower LeProwse is as distant from me as a third-generation relation could be. My mother’s maternal uncle died fifty-one years before I was born. He lived his brief life across the Atlantic as a native of Cornwall, England. I know very little about him, and yet I feel a meaningful connection to Great Uncle Glen, thanks to one of the lengthiest and most detailed obituaries I have ever seen.

Born in 1913 to Phillip and Asineth LeProwse, Glendower was the youngest of three brothers. Trevelyan, known informally as Trevy, was the middle child. The eldest, with the impressive moniker of Frederick J. Barzillai LeProwse, would emigrate to the United States in 1922 and marry the woman who would become my maternal grandmother. The three siblings grew up in Ludgvan on the family farm, which was christened Bar-Tre-Glen in their honor. Read More

Guess What Today Is!

I consider myself an Anglophile. I have an inherent fascination with English life, from its customs to its colloquialisms. I like listening to BBC Radio. My pop culture preferences warmly embrace The Beatles, ELP, Pink Floyd, and all things Python. I’m charmed by E.F. Benson’s Lucia novels and captivated by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I have ancestral ties to Cornwall (my maternal grandfather was born and raised in Truro). Nothing would please me more than to spend a lengthy sabbatical exploring Britain. Yet for all my natural interest in England, I cannot muster so much as a dollop of enthusiasm for today’s royal wedding.

Apparently that puts me in good standing with  two-thirds of the British population, the demographic block identified by pollsters as those who will not be watching the ceremony. According to CBS News, half of the United Kingdom claims to be “actively uninterested” in the whole affair, and I share their passionate apathy. The relentless news coverage is bad enough here; I can only imagine how unavoidable it must be in England. Read More

Funny Places


My brother Brian once encouraged me to tag along on a social call that did not appeal to me.  My reluctance was born from a previous visit that lasted much longer than I had anticipated.  Even though Brian assured me that we would leave for home whenever I liked, I wasn’t convinced that I would have the opportunity to express that desire without offending our host.   Somehow we arrived at a clever solution:  a code word, one unlikely to come up in normal conversation yet not so obscure as to raise suspicion, would be my subtle signal that it was time to go.

“What’s the code?” asked Brian.

“Put-In-Bay,” I declared instantly.  Why the name of a village on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island should spring to my lips remains a mystery, though I suspect my brain subconsciously fetched the handiest noun that might elicit a laugh.  Indeed, it did bring forth a chuckle from my brother, partly because the phrase Put-In-Bay is naturally funny and also due to the potential awkwardness of inserting the unwieldy moniker into casual conversation. Read More

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