A fellow family researcher, seeking original documents by mail, was told by a certain town that our ancestor's death cert wasn't available, that he didn't die in that town (and the town grabbed the fee for "research").
Fiddlesticks. We know he did die there, because the date and place showed up in a reliable cemetery listing and in a family prayer book, not to mention death notices in his hometown newspaper.
I have other research to pursue, so I joined the state society of genealogists. When the blue membership card arrived, I took myself down to town hall, smiled sweetly, flashed the magic card, and presto! I got into the vault and found the ancestor's name, in black and white, listed in the town's death index (and the only person of that last name to die that year, by the way).
Then I turned to the death cert in the book of bound death certs. Alas, all this effort for very little. No name of father or mother, no town of birth, not even the spouse's name (which we know anyway). Just death date, place, name of doctor, name of undertaker, and name of embalmer (TMI). But now we KNOW for sure where and when, which is something.
Next stop: The main library in the town where this man lived for decades, and the vital records area. So many ancestors, so little time!