Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Cooling Board

cooling board
Cooling Board

When I was young, I would hear the old people in church mention the “cooling board.” My church was of the Pentecostal Holiness denomination and it was customary to have a testimony service. A testimony service was when church members, called “Saints,” would stand up and share with the congregation things that God had done for them. They would also express their thankfulness and praise to God.

The testimony might start out as follows:

Giving honor to God, to the Pastor, Deacons, Saints and Friends.
I thank God for __________(They might mention a specific situation where they felt that God blessed them.)

And then somewhere during the testimony of one of the old Saints, they might say “I thank God for waking me up this morning and that I’m not on a cooling board.”

I had learned as a child that if you were on a cooling board, you were dead, but I never knew exactly how the board looked until a few years ago when I watched a video about a cooling board. In this video, Roy Olpin shares his family’s history in the funeral business and how his father used one the tools of the trade called the “cooling board.” The cooling board was used by his father as an embalming table during the days when this task was done in the home of the deceased.


the1waiting said...

What a magnificent piece! Even though I hate attending funerals, I felt it was important to see this film. I am a genealogist who hear my African American elders speak of many things such as the "cooling board". Seeing this film is a highlight in my life. Thank you for the experience. I love it.

Cookie said...

I was fortunate enough to inherit a "cooling board" that was used in Gulrock grandmother had been given it and when she died i received it (April 28, 2009)...ours is not as legs, no wheels, no case..just a plank of Carolina pine that was placed between two ladder back chairs...the first time to allow the body to leak out the fluids upon death....then it was cleaned up and the person was dressed and placed back on the board for the showing before burial. I know for sure that it is from the 1900's or earlier and it has 9 marks on we know at least nine memeber of the commuhity used that is dated 1919 as my grandmothers youngest sister Delores Mason who died in infancy, they say of lockjaw, was buried on grandma and i were one of a kind we thought the history of the board was fascinating....

Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

That was a fabulous post! Thanks for sharing it. As genealogists, I guess we deal with deaths in one way or another, but this was an angle I hadn't thought much about, and I'd never heard of a "cooling board". I know that my 90 year old aunt has told me about how people used to be "laid out" for viewing their homes and then taken straight from there for burial. This was the case with her father, my great-grandfather, Calvin. I'll have to ask her if she can recall a cooling board being used!