Shuffled off this mortal coil
4:06 p.m. on October 18, 2006


I recently found out that two people I went to school with both died this summer just days apart in separate instances. I don’t think they knew each other, even though they were in the same class. They were the exact opposites. One man was named Del Fross. He was a guys guy. Gregarious and well liked. He sported a mustache since he was 12 years old and he liked to hunt, drink a lot of Coors and shoot pool. The other man was named Ernie Beck. He was tall, thin and shy with a handsome face and bright blue eyes. Ernie was a quiet fellow with few friends.

I met Ernie in art class and we got to know each other. On a few occasions the two of us and some other kids would cut class and wander into the cemetery that was across the street from the high school. We would hang out, taking photographs and just generally goof around. I saw Ernie frequently and although we were not close, I would like to think we were friends once upon a time.

I used to have a lot of pen pals and had invented a persona. When I first started out writing to people, I told them that I was a foreign exchange student from England named Tolstoy. I would send these poor unsuspecting girls photographs of Ernie and tell them it was me.

A few years after high school, I had run into Ernie in San Francisco in 1991. He had since come out of the closet and he seemed a bit worse for wear. I was waiting in line with friends to see the film My Own Private Idaho and Ernie walked by. He decided to wait in line with us and see the film together. He seemed fidgety and distracted and said he thought the movie was “weird”. That was the last time I saw him.

Del Fross was a cousin of my best childhood friend who lived across the street from me. Sometimes Del would bring a friend over to their house to go swimming with us and it was always very exciting for us girls fighting our way out of pre-pubescence. Del had a mustache even then and was the center of attention when it came to my friend, her 3 older sisters, and both their mothers. I remember a group of us going to the roller rink and he started singing that song by Exile called Kiss You All Over. He sang it like he really wanted to kiss someone. My main memory that comes back to me every time I see the word Skoal was when his family was sitting around talking about what they wanted to happen when they died and Del said that he wanted to be cremated and put unto a chew can and for everyone around to come and take a chew of him.

I wonder if that happened.

The only thing I know about Del’s death was that it happened quietly in his sleep this past July at the tender age of 37.

I do not know how Ernie died, just 3 days before Del, but I can guess it may have been drug related like his best friend in high school as told in this entry.


That is all I know of these two men, vastly different but for their age, date of death and my sparse memories of each.

R.I.P.






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BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS - May 30, 2011

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