Horn-honking Tuesday afternoon on Spanish Wells Road blared a shrill reminder that the graceful Southern tradition of pulling over for funeral processions is dying.
A friend who had pulled over to show respect for the deceased and his family said at least two people got out of their cars and went up to those that had stopped, telling the drivers to move.
None of the polite people budged until the last car with flashing emergency lights passed, heading to the Spanish Wells Cemetery.
One grumbler said stopping was dangerous and stupid.
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That's what they always say when this simple sign of respect for life and reverence for death gets stampeded by rubes. How people can treat a grieving family as if they were rushing through the canned soup aisle at Walmart is beyond me. As my sister would say, "That's rude and crude, and I could name a lot of other things."
Rick Bragg, an Alabama boy from across the tracks who ended up writing for The New York Times, explains the phenomena in a 1997 article:
"There is no law for it, at least no written law. It is just what the people with manners do. They do not let a screen door slam. If company is at the dinner table, they never reach for the last piece of chicken. And when a hearse and its train of grief comes slowly into view, lights shining at high noon, they respect the dead and pull over."
Surely, the gentleman in the lead coach from Marshel's Wright-Donaldson Home for Funerals deserved our respect Tuesday.
Isikiah "Ike" Louevine was only 60, a quick victim of pancreatic cancer. He grew up in the Roseland section of Jasper County, married his longtime sweetheart, Queen Elizabeth Chisolm, and moved to Hilton Head Island for work.
He was a beloved member of the maintenance department at the Shipyard Plantation golf course for more than 35 years. He often rode his bicycle from Nazarene Road off Spanish Wells Road all the way to Shipyard, arriving by 6:30 a.m.
He also was faithful at First African Baptist Church, and when the church was given a car a few years ago, it ended up with Ike. He took people wherever they needed to go.
For the past six years, he worked with a volunteer literacy tutor. He wanted to learn to read the Bible, but it was a struggle because he saw words upside down and backward. That didn't stop him. He came two afternoons a week, once arriving in the dead of winter after a long bike ride, tears frozen to his round, smiling face.
Ike learned all the Bible stories, and he sang in two church choirs. He liked playing music so much a niece nicknamed him "D.J. Iceman." He excelled at detailing cars.
Ike was widely respected, mild-mannered and always helpful to others. They say he never had an unkind word about anyone, even when he was done wrong. He would forget it by saying, "Well, it's done."
That's why we pull over when a hearse bound for glory land comes gliding over the horizon.