remembrance

THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE ALLIANCE TIMES-HERALD ISN’T SEALED IN AN ENVELOPE, AND PROBABLY WON’T BE SENT.

IT’S TOO LONG. IT INVOLVES TWO PHOTOS. I CAN THINK OF ANY NUMBER OF REASONS THE EDITOR WOULDN’T PUBLISH IT. STILL, IT’S WRITTEN, IT RELATES TO YESTERDAY’S BLOG, AND YOU WILL NOW GET TO READ IT.

HERE GOES:

May 31, 2010

Dear Editor,

There are graves in the cemetery that are associated with families who no longer live here or of people who just had the misfortune to die in Alliance, a long way from home. Allen N. Turner, of Dallas, Texas, is one of the latter. His marker gives the year of his death as 1903, only 15 years after the founding of Alliance.

This grave intrigued me for years. I checked the microfilms of a predecessor to your paper. I hope my memory is correct, but the basic outline of the last few days of Allen Turner’s life are solid. Maybe it was the “Silver Dollar Gang”, for example, instead of the “Silver Dollar Boys”. To a newspaper man, this light way with the facts is unacceptable, I know, yet the outcome of the story doesn’t change.

Allen Turner worked for a rancher up on the Pine Ridge. The rancher’s wife made burritos for extra cash, and Allen Turner had the job of selling them. There was a dispute over some missing money, mayhem broke out, Allen Turner fled south to Alliance, maybe to continue to Texas.

Whatever Allen Turner’s plan, regardless of his guilt or innocence, two brothers (as I recall) who styled themselves the “Silver Dollar Boys” chased him down to Alliance, shot him in the neck, and he died after long suffering a day later.

Someone paid to bury him. Someone put a small white marble Celtic cross on his grave. He was 28 years old, dead of a gunshot wound.

The white marble Celtic cross seems to be an effort to place a marker within the budget of the person who knew or was related to Mr. Turner, yet not to be cheap: a small white marble Celtic cross is, still, made of an expensive material, just scaled down. It is beautiful. I suspect Mr. Turner was loved despite his foibles.

I’d see this cross when I went out to place flowers and flags for Memorial Day on family graves .

You probably recognize this marker from times you covered the Memorial Day ceremonies at the cemetery. The grave is in the triangle of land with the memorials. I took this photo yesterday after I placed the small American flag next to it. That was a mistake.

Today, the flag was gone, probably picked up by the people who placed all the little American flags on graves throughout the cemetery. An honest mistake, I think. I’m mildly bent out of shape, but it’s not a huge dollar issue, just one of me being denied the opportunity to mark the grave of an outcast far from his home.

The flag was gone, but someone put a small bouquet of artificial yellow roses next to the marker! A kindred spirit. Thank you, whoever you are!

The person who placed the yellow roses on Allen Turner’s grave doesn’t know it, but his or her small act helped define the true meaning of Memorial Day for me. They all aren’t heroes. They all didn’t have big bank accounts. Some were outright scoundrels. But they all deserve some measure of remembrance and dignity. Sorry, but the barbeques and sales, well…!

Regards,
weggieboy

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