Charles Henry Atkins, also known as Speedy, worked in Paducah, Kentucky on a tobacco farm.  Speedy drowned in the river in 1928, dirt-floor-poor as the day he was born.  The Ohio undertow takes the ablest of swimmers.  When his body was recovered, the Paducah authorities turned him over for a pauper’s burial.  A.Z. Hamock, mortician in the case, took it upon himself to work on Speedy using extensive experimental preservation, essentially mummifying the gentleman.  Then, A.Z. proudly began displaying Speedy.  He sold tickets. This was good for business. 

                              we call it river
                              a channel to the high sea
                              death’s old sails unleashed

The Ohio River flooded widely in 1937, and the rising brown obliterated the Hamock funeral home.  The mummy was washed out of the closet where A.Z. kept it for display, and it floated downstream.  Then, for a second time, Charles Henry Atkins was fished out of the river.  Eventually, Hamock died and his wife had custody of Speedy for the next 45 years.  Charles Henry Atkins was finally buried, with respectful ceremony, 66 years after he drowned.  This garnered local and national media attention.  His final resting place is Maplelawn Cemetery, Paducah, Kentucky.   

                              the mummy floated
                              bobbing slow in the rushes
                              of the flooded plain