My grandfather [Abner Jackson, Sr.] used to be mail--on the mail, mail run for the railroad. And I don't know which railroad it was either. They never did talk too much, and, of course, you might have run in the same situation. They didn't, they didn't talk too much about yesterday, yeah, didn't talk too much about yesterday. So everything we know right now, we done had to go through obituaries and, and funeral programs and all that stuff to kind of get some background. And my dad [Abner Jackson, Jr.] put, and my dad said, "I don't have to have no obituary." So they put on his, nothing but 'The Lord's Prayer' (laughs), in lieu of obitu--in lieu of the obituary. So--.$$(Simultaneously) He didn't have any obituary about himself at all? Just you say, 'The Lord's Prayer'.$$Yeah, he just had 'The Lord's Prayer'. He, he didn't want no obituary on there. He said, "I ain't"--he said, "I lived, and that's it." And so mama [Janett Jackson] put on his tombstone out there, "Rest in Peace" (laughs)--R.I.P., he'd like that.$$Okay, now how did you grandfather--did you know your grandfather who started this business?$$Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, gramps, 'Dapper Gramps' [Abner Jackson], that's what we used to call him.$$What was that again?$$Dapper Gramps. Yeah, he loved to play Coon Can, you know the game?$$No, I don't.$$Okay, he said, "Some coons can, some coons can't." That's all (laughs). But, yeah, yeah, Gramps--see, we moved over--we moved out of the house over here on Cleveland [Street, Wichita, Kansas] over into the basement of the mortuary over on Water Street, the one you see the picture out there on the wall. We moved over there when I was four years old, stayed there thirteen years. And Gramps stayed in one part of the basement, and we stayed in the other part, which it wasn't nothing but three rooms. So it had one room for us and one room for Gramps. And he was quite a character, quite a character, loved his cigars. He'd smoke them till the ash get that long. And then just nod his head (laughs), wherever the ash went, yeah. But he was a good businessman.$$What did he do for a living before he started the mortuary? How did he do it?$$He went to--he moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and it was a cat name--a guy, a funeral director named Nathan Thatcher, Thatcher['s] Funeral Home, still in Kansas City, Kansas, they started hanging around as old [Masonic] lodge buddies. And Gramps was a Thirty-Third Mason and so was Mr. Thatcher, is the way I understand it. And they just, Gramps just started hanging around the mortuary, and then he decided to go to school there in Kansas City, embalming school. And twenty-six, like I said, July the tenth, 1926, he decided to move to Wichita [Kansas]. And we had a storefront over on Main Street. And then he--in 1932, he built that mortuary, the building, single-purpose building. Of course, couldn't get no financing, but he had--I remember him stating he--twelve, all of $12,000 to build that building. I said, "You sure stayed with the twelves, didn't you?" He said, "Yeah, twelve, $1,200 of capital to, to keep me open for a few days and it cost me $12,000 to build the building." And saved all this money, saved all this money. My, my dad would turn over in his grave if he figured out that Genie [Anderson Eugene Jackson] and I had, had, had gone through the processes of financing, financing some of the improvements we made around here and the acquisitions. He didn't believe in borrowing no money. Said, "Well shoot, all you got to do is set it over there." But, it came right down to a very, very independent family, very independent. Seven [days a week], twenty-four [hours a day], 365 [days a year], they say. That's, that's how much time they put in the business, and afraid it wore off on us. It really wore off on my son [Michael Jackson] here lately cause he, he gets home, he gets home whenever. Genie and I, we--he takes a lot of that off of us now, so we don't have to really do seven, twenty-four. We got a answering service, now after seven o'clock in the evening. Shoot, when my dad was running this place, shoot, we had one line, and one phone. Nobody was the, nobody went anywhere without somebody manning the phone, manning the door. So we started out early putting in that seven, twenty-four.$$Now, when your grandfather started this business, was he the first black funeral home director here in Wichita or were there others?$$No, there was, there was a Butler Funeral Home here, and he ran them out of town. That's the way he likes to brag about it, said, "I run one of them out of town" and say, "Bring them on, bring on the rest of them (laughs)." But he was very confident in his--he always told us, said, "Don't worry about the money anyway" and he said "It's the service that counts." He said, "The service bring in the money," and, and he believed that. He believed that. In all he--there's been one, two, three other funeral homes here, and we're the only ones that's, that have stayed or sustained three other black funeral homes. One of them is in, in Topeka [Kansas], it's Johnson Funeral Home now, and Butler, he just closed up.$I guess in the funeral business, correct me if I'm wrong, there're two different aspects to the businesses it seems to be or maybe even three. One aspect is the embalmment of a person, and that's quite different from actually serving the grieving family and--,$$(Simultaneously) Oh, yeah.$$--and being a host for a funeral service.$$Right.$$And then the other aspect, I guess, is dealing with the place of internment, wherever that is, right?$$Oh, you can--.$$(Simultaneously) (Unclear) make that arrangement with the graveyard.$$Right.$$So tell, just tell me about how does one conduct this business and what are the components of it?$$The first, the first aspect of it is very important, the embalming and, and cosmetology and, and getting the person ready for, for the family's approval, of course. And that takes a lot of it. I mean that, that's, that's one of the things that Genie [Anderson Eugene Jackson], Genie and Michael [Jackson] both were very well schooled in. And they still do a good job. But that son of mine, he takes pride in that, which I'm glad. And he gets a lot of compliments, and he kind of shrugs them off, you know, a forty-two year old--forty, Michael's forty-six. And, but then the next phase runs into where you meet the family. You meet the family and, and set some arrangements together and make the arrangements for the cemetery and make arrangements for, for the actual carrying out the funeral program in itself. But the real test, the real test is when you're conducting--at least I think it is, when you're conducting the services and so forth at the church or chapel or whatever--cause you got folks come in there, "I'm her cousin. I want a seat up in the front." "You should have come with the original family, son." And it's a way you say that, you know. And, and usually goes down, but it's dealing with folk on, on a one-on-one basis that--we tell, we tell them, we got this young lady up in the front, Stephanie, that is very good. We were blessed to get her as far as I was concerned. She, her daddy and I was raised up together about two blocks from each other over on the West side, and we never lost contact. And she always wanted to work in the business so John asked, John asked if maybe we might have a opening one of these days. And we, we dealt with that. We're very concerned about who represents us in whatever capacity, and I think that's one of the, one of the things that wears some folk out. There was a story, there was a story that--I don't remember who told it to me, but it's been a few years ago, that a dad would send his son to college, got him a, got him a B.A. degree and almost a Masters in Business Administration, and blah, blah, blah; and waiting on, waiting on him to graduate, put a little sign on the door with his name on it and blah--and then called him in and had a conversation with him. And he said, "I want you to start, start out there in the, in the garage and the yard with so and so, and learn everything that he does and then we'll talk again, and I'll see if I'll move you inside and turn you over to one of the counselors. And you'll learn everything here." And the son kept saying, "No, I don't think so, dad." He said, "Well, what do you want?" He said, "I want to sell you my fifty percent." (laughs) His dad gave his fifty percent of the business when he got out of college. "I want to sell you my fifty percent." Was it dad [Abner Jackson, Jr.] or somebody or another--it had to be a funeral director that had to tell me that story. But he said, "That's what you call an ingrate." And I, I never want to put myself in that position, but there's not too many, as you, as you probably know, there ain't too many people across the country can go back four or five generations, cause it's always a break off at some time. There's nobody with a family name that, that's actually running, running a operation. A lot of, a lot of funeral directors nowadays, especially the older ones, they'll pick up somebody and make them general manager of the mortuary and, and just go home and send me a check. Yeah, and we haven't been that fortunate. We haven't had to do that part of it, but it's a seven [days a week], twenty-four [hours a day] and a lot of folk don't want to be in this business. When mama wants, got to go to the PTA [Parent-Teacher Association] meeting, and there's something, something that mama's planned for the children or either for herself personally, you know. You do the best--next best thing, whatever keeps you at home, (laughs) which a lot of times you turn down those invitations cause you got something else to do so far as the business is concerned. I think that's about probably, that's probably the most restriction that I've ever run into this business anyway. Of course, they, like you say, they got telephones and pagers and all that kind of stuff now, and first thing I do when I walk in a room, I put my telephone there on the side, and set, on the table or either the chair next to it. I turn the volume up on the boy 'cause ain't no telling when I get a call. And if I get call, "Bye y'all, I'm gone." (laughs) So it's, it's challenging. It really is. It is challenging.