Not too long ago, I was wandering around Forest Hill Cemetery, as I like to do sometimes, and spotted a rather unusual tombstone. As you can see, it’s a marker for a fellow named Harold Harvey, who was born in 1924 and died in 1947. But what caught my eye was the nickname inscribed on the tombstone: “Chunkie Boy.”
Let me just say right now, that if anyone has given me an unfortunate moniker that I’m blissfully unaware of, please don’t inscribe it on my tombstone for all to see.
But I was intrigued by Mr. Harvey, who died at a rather young age, so I tried to find out more about him. Not much luck, I’m afraid — nothing in the files of the Memphis Room or Special Collections at the University of Memphis. But then I turned up his death certificate, and I learned more than I really wanted to know. He worked as a fireman for the Frisco Railroad, it seems, was married to a woman named Ruth Harvey, and they lived together at 1231 Wellington.
And then, precisely at noon on July 12, 1947, the medical examiner’s report says that Harold Harvey — for reasons that perhaps only he knew — walked into his backyard and shot himself through the head with a pistol. He died one hour later at St. Joseph Hospital.
I suppose we’ll never know why he was called “Chunkie Boy.”
Sorry this is so depressing. Not every story I encounter in Memphis has a funny ending.