I got a phone call the other day from someone who began by asking me “Do you know Edelen Morgan?” I answered “Well I used to know Edelen,” and the caller said “You mean that sob is dead!?” I then asked who was I talking to.
Turns out his name is Ron Bechtold, lives in Texas and was Edelen’s step brother. His father Ralph was married to Edelen’s mother Mae. Ron mentioned that his father was buried here and that Tubby Smith (yes the Tubby Smith) had once showed him in the cemetery where Ralph was buried. He said that Mae was later buried close by and that a small white cross marked the site.
I later related all this to Capt. Jerry Norris and asked if he knew Ralph Bechtold. Turns out Jerry and Ralph were good friends. Jerry brought me this picture of him and Ralph knocking one back at Joe Rapps’ Triangle Tavern. (Recognize the old juke box on the left?)
Jerry also told me that he had been one of Ralph’s pall bearers and that Ralph was buried at the Ridge Methodist Church after he had died in a house fire.
Next day I made a pass thru the graveyard to see if I could find either a marker or the cross Ron referred to but I was unsuccessful. (Jerry told me later that he had also went thru the graveyard and even though he knew roughly where Ralph & Mae were buried, he was unable to find any markings either.)
Although I was not able to locate the markings I was looking for, I did come upon two that took me back a bit and made me sad: Shirley Coffman and Danny Tharpe. While I had always known that they both had died young, seeing it on their tombstones just made me realize it a bit more. Shirley, along with Ned’s brother Billy Pratt, was senselessly murdered when she was only 22 years old; Danny was only 44 when he died.
I left the Methodist graveyard and drove over to St. Mike’s to check in on Buzzy. The turf I planted last year on his grave site has taken so well that it’s almost overgrown his Veteran’s foot stone. I cleared it off some and took a moment to clear my mind.
I recalled the day Buzzy had phoned me at work to inform me that Edelen had died. As I inquired about the funeral arrangements, he was having trouble responding and I asked him “Dad are you crying?” He half mumbled something along the lines “Edelen never hurt any one but himself.”
Footnote: Edelen doesn’t have a tombstone nor a marker either as his ashes were spread into Tanner Creek.