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Probe: Jan. 17, 2002

January 17, 2002

QUESTION: My father, Eddie Kennedy, 87, died of cancer Jan. 10. He had 14 children now scattered from Arkansas to the state of Washington. None can afford to come to the funeral, let alone help with the burial expenses. That leaves only me and I can't get the money to pay for a "direct" cremation.

My father had many friends in the Valley. Cooking more than 30 years in El Centro restaurants, he got to know a lot of people. He knew doctors, lawyers and politicians. Sheriff Oren Fox was a good friend.

Dad cooked for years at the Owl Cafe and was briefly part-owner of the restaurant. He worked at the Knotty Pine, the Esquire when it served food, and El Vaquero.

He was famous for his chili, chicken and hamburgers. When some rich people had a party, they would hire my dad to make chili.

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He was a Marine in World War II, reaching the rank of sergeant before his honorable discharge.

I need help to put away my father without having to bury him in a pauper's grave. — Grieving Daughter, El Centro

Why don't you call the county public administrator? The county will pay for a "decent" funeral and burial for a veteran if that's what you want. If you want cremation, the county will pay for that, too.

Let's explain that a "direct" cremation means the body goes directly from the mortuary icebox to the crematorium with none of the niceties like grooming and public viewing. The cost for the no-frills cremation is $1,100.

Add a casket, viewing and such and the price may (likely will) reach $3,000. A moderate but nice funeral and burial will run about $4,000 to $5,000.

OK, PROBE readers, if you want to help this daughter pay her last respects to her dad, call Hems Bros. Mortuary (352-5661) in El Centro or Gloria at 352-4980.

QUESTION: Our toilet overflowed, the kitchen sink won't empty and we can't take a shower. My mother called Houseman Plumbing to unplug the sewer. She asked how much it would cost and was told $59.

The plumber came but never did unplug the line. At the end of an hour, he said he was leaving unless my mother wanted him to continue at $59 an hour. He said it could take another three or four hours! My mother argued that she thought the charge was $59 to unplug the line. That's unfair! — Still Plugged, El Centro

We called Houseman and left a message with its answering service, but nobody returned our call, so we only have your side of the story.

Obviously, there was a failure to communicate. Such miscues will hurt the plumbing company more than it will hurt you.

We use a drain service that charges a flat fee for unplugging a line. We think that's what you thought you had.

QUESTION: We got a check for $5.42 in the mail from the Oakland Processing Center drawn on a rebate/refund trust account. There was nothing in the envelope and nothing written on the check. Can we cash it? — Nervous, El Centro

Examine the check for tiny print to make sure you're not settling an important matter or switching your telephone service. Then cash it.

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