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Leave ’em laughing

Hi. I’m Gene. And this is my street, Francis Wyman Road.

Gene Knowles Burlington MA


Here I am on my grandpa Skelton’s farm.

Gene Knowles with rifle, Burlington MA

Now it has a number. It is number 92 Francis Wyman Road. Do you know I could see Cambridge Street all the way from this house? There was nothing in the way except flat farmland.


I married a Burlington girl,  Jeanne Vigneau. That’s us in the middle.

So now I’m a grown-up. So deep in thought. What will I be?

Gene Knowles looking afar, Burlington MA


How about a cop?

Gene Knowles Bogart


Like this guy.


Look at this — it’s happening!

Lt Eugene Knowles, succeeded Lt. Ray Litchfield in Burlington MA

I’m a cop — but I’m really a tinkerer. Here’s me in 1964 building a train set.

Gene Knowles train set 1964

I love tools.


And working with wood.


Now I’m building something really special, and it’s just for myself.

See, I’m getting older. I’ll need one of these in a few years. This will save the family some money.

Beautiful isn’t it?

Yes, when I left the world in 2018, I did it my way, in my own vessel, built with my own hands. Kevin Sullivan at Sullivan Funeral Home had never seen a homemade coffin. He called it the “elephant in the room,” and everyone at my wake chuckled.


That’s exactly how my funeral should be — anything but grave. Life is more fun when there’s a twist. Same with death. And here’s a final twist: I decided to be cremated, to save space at the Knowles section of the Chestnut Hill Cemetery (I’ve got a big family).

So my sons carried my ashes inside my vessel, but then buried my ashes inside another container.


My coffin? It’s back in the basement. Will it have another passenger someday? We’ll see.

17 thoughts on “Leave ’em laughing Leave a comment

  1. I remember the Knowles family, I recognize Brian in the picture. I believe he lives in NH now, not too far from me.

  2. I worked with Gene for 30+ years and drank coffee with him twice a week for another 15 years after that. I still miss him.

    • Bill- You and the coffee crew kept him going for a long time. Thanks for keeping him with us!

  3. I heard there was another Knowles family in Burlington.

    I grew up in Burlington and my father still lives there.

    • David- I knew there were other Knowles in town. As a family genealogist I’d love to learn more about your family. If we’re related it will be distantly

  4. Each morning before school I would to go to the Knowles house on Lexington St. with Marsha Beaulieu. We would wait impatiently for the school bus. We would stand in their little open entryway to try and stay warm. Often the bus was late. However I knew Mr. Knowles was a policeman and appreciated him letting us stand there!

  5. What a wonderful story by a sweet storyteller. Gentle soul and a beautiful woodworking job.

  6. If you grew up on Lexington St you knew “the porch”! Great memories of the entire Knowles family & the porch!!

  7. I remember this family as well, and it was a pleasure to be in the same town all these years. Its a true blessing to be able to go back like this. I had it so good and took everyday life with no fanfare. But now, this leaves me laughing with delight and appreciated all the more. Thank you!

  8. great story bob, he was one of the men who made burlington……………….finally got me one of those burlington tee shirts……dont recognize the motif…………………..but i realize its cheaper that way………………..otherwise you have to pay for a hand drawn painting of the town green,or something……………………..keep up the good work……………carl, derryfield, salem state

  9. Wonderful story. Wicked sense of humor and the coffin truly a magnificent work of art. Great woodworking. The get well soon balloon by the gravesite is priceless! I did not remember there were that many kids in the Knowles family. (still we had you beat!). Thanks for the glimpse of your Dad’s humor.

  10. Awesome, the Knowles family, good people. John a school chum always smiling and Bobby on the unicycle great times, joe sullivan

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