Where did Kennedy spend his postmortem 36 hours?
August 28, 2009 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Ted Kennedy died at home shortly before midnight on Tuesday. His body was taken from Hyannisport to the Kennedy Library shortly before noon on Thursday. Where was he for the intervening 36 hours? Do they have facilities at Hyannisport to store corpses? Is it practical to just leave the remains in his bedroom with a sheet pulled over for that much time? Was Kennedys's body taken to a morgue and then returned to the compound for ceremonial reasons?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something like the following would be boringly normal:

(1) Dead body goes to funeral home
(2) Funeral home does whatever it does -- embalming or not, cleaning, shaving, dressing
(3) Body is transported to home
(4) Viewing/wake at home
(5) Body is transported to cemetery (or other facility)
(6) More viewings maybe, and funeral service proper
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:43 PM on August 28, 2009

i would assume they embalmed him at a nearby funeral home unless the kennedy compound had some kind of onsite medical clinic that could be repurposed for the task.

however, it is possible to safely store a corpse by packing it in dry ice, and (although this is macabre to consider) i would bet that the kennedy compound has a walk-in freezer in the kitchen.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:44 PM on August 28, 2009

The Cape isn't very big, so even if Hyannisport itself doesn't have a funeral home, a nearby town would. The Kennedys probably made arrangements far in advance with the place the chose.
posted by rtha at 3:50 PM on August 28, 2009

Response by poster: Meaning they made a house call and took care of their business on the premises?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:52 PM on August 28, 2009

No, I suppose I mean the funeral home came and collected the body, took it away for embalming etc., and then brought it back. That's usually how it works, but ColdChef would know the details.
posted by rtha at 4:03 PM on August 28, 2009

I don't know what happened in this particular case, however...

It's not unheard of for embalming to be done at a residence. In fact, back in the 1940's, this is what my grandfather and his brother did regularly. They'd embalm the body right there on the dining room table. Their equipment was portable and not very intrusive. With modern technology, it's not likely, but entirely possible.

However, my best guess (and again, I have no idea what happened here) is exactly what ROU_Xenophobe said. With the caveat that I'd be very surprised if embalming was skipped. Embalming is almost always required if a viewing (either public or private) takes place.
posted by ColdChef at 4:05 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hyannisport isn't even a town; it's a tiny village in Hyannis, a big town with an assortment of funeral homes (lots of old people on the Cape). According to Yelp, the Kennedy compound's a 6-minute drive to the nearest one.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:12 PM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: The funeral home van made a few visits to the compound Wednesday. I know this because I was home sick and that was the only thing on TV, every channel, all day.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:54 PM on August 28, 2009

I've gotten a couple of emails asking for further explanation on "home-embalming." I'll reply as best I can here.

Home embalming used to be a "waterless" process. The embalmers would disrobe the body and wash it with moistened towels. The table that the body was lying on would be elevated at one end, and a gravity-powered pump would introduce embalming fluid into the arteries while blood was drained at the other end, either into a sink or into glass bottles that would be taken away from the home. Once that had taken place, the features would be set and the body would be dressed. A properly embalmed body could remain outside of refrigeration without deterioration for around a week or so, depending on the skill of the embalmer and the condition of the corpse. Modern techniques have made this type of embalming archaic, and it's fallen away from use.

Again, this is very unlikely to have been the case for the preparation of Senator Kennedy.
posted by ColdChef at 5:16 PM on August 28, 2009 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: jerseygirl answered it. Thanks to coldchef for adding some color.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:45 PM on August 28, 2009

The funeral home was identified as Doane Beal & Ames.
posted by dhartung at 9:00 PM on August 28, 2009

yeah, doane beal and ames has a couple of locations around mid-cape. we used them for my dad's funeral, a couple of years ago.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:57 AM on August 30, 2009

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