"The press was here shortly after that, waiting at our door for any indication, whatsoever, of Mr. Lennon coming to our chapel. We arranged with Mrs. Lennon to come in. She signed the necessary papers for the cremation, then went back to the medical examiner's office and picked Mr. Lennon up," Schultz said. "There was so much media, with the potential for so much chaos, that when Lennon's body was moved from the chapel to be cremated, a decoy hearse was sent out."
And, according to Schultz, the press followed the decoy.
"Five minutes later, the correct hearse came in, pulled up to the door, and Mr. Lennon was brought out in the alternative container, and the director carried with him the urn that was going to be used, and proceeded to Ferncliff Crematory in Hartsdale, N.Y.," Schultz said.
The business is no longer family owned; it was purchased by a mortuary conglomerate. But this long-standing, high discretion enterprise has hardly changed; again, it stood as a backdrop to those who came to mourn Ledger today, as his casket was carried from the home, and the media who came to watch.
And the lessons learned over more than 80 years are as universal as the emotions that have filled these streets — the intense dedication and unity of mourners, the familial connections felt for people they have never met, the volatility of grief, and the protocols that surround the business of it all.
"They need to be a part of that life that they ... have never touched personally, individually, privately, and in person — but through the media, through television, through the movies, it was very much a part of their growing up and their life. They want closure," Schultz said. "People from every walk of life."