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Trail's End Cemetery

Telling the tale of Tahoe City
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GROWING UP IN TAHOE

Tucked in amongst a grove of pines hard against the Tahoe City Golf Course is Trail's End Cemetery. Go there to discover the story of our community. It's a story of sadness, as we remember the awesome mountain people who died reaching for joy, but also one of inspiration, as we reflect on the impact that so many incredible people had on those of us lucky enough to live our lives in Tahoe City.

Many of the graves bring back moments of community crisis and grief, when we all came together as one. There was the horrible day in 1987 when Julie Fenley, mother and North Tahoe schoolteacher, was killed by a drunk driver. It was a day made even worse when we discovered that the drunk driver was a graduate of North Tahoe High School, perhaps once Fenley's student. There is another Julie in the cemetery, Julie Tennis, a teenage girl who died way too young. There is also the grave of a kid I used to play with when I was a toddler, Little Mickey Daniels, son of local fishing captain Mickey Daniels. He was only 13 when he died in an accident in 1974. As I recently wandered among the tombstones, I passed by the final resting place of John Sardella, whose entire face always seemed to be lit up with a smile when I knew him as a North Tahoe High classmate. He died of a drug overdose at a three-day rock concert in 1983.

Trail's End is a place for a peaceful stroll, but you soon realize that there is something unique about our cemetery: far too many of the graves contain those who died young. Since many elderly depart town before they depart this life, it makes sense, but it's still profoundly sad. I meandered past the beer bottles and 'Born to Be Wild' signs under one 20-year-old's stone, and the Scooby Doo and wind chimes placed by the headstone of a 27-year-old. The young victims’ graves are adorned with mementos of childhoods lost. A pile of soccer balls, a lunch box, and a GI Joe action figure lie on the grave of 10-year-old Sam Brixey, who died in 2006 in a go-cart accident. Skis rest comfortably on the grave of a young woman proclaimed simply as 'Ski Champion.' Little toy horses lie next to the grave of Shana Eriksson, who died at 18 in 2003 in an equestrian accident while away at college in Fresno. Three years later, the unfathomable happened, when her sister, North Tahoe High School senior Mia Eriksson, died riding a horse in a jumping competition in Temecula.

The remains of Bob Everson are here. In the spring of 1981, Everson proposed the idea for a winter carnival at Lake Tahoe. A few months later, on the evening of July Fourth, he was killed on Lake Tahoe when another boat plowed through the boat he was sleeping in. The following winter, SnowFest was initiated in Everson's honor. One of the most recent additions to Trail's End is Norma App, day care provider for hundreds, including my kids when they were babies. Her on again, off again battle against cancer went on so long that many in town were surprised when it finally beat her last year.

Trail's End is not only a place to say good-bye to people we knew, but also a place to remember those who came before us and helped shape our town. Longtime Tahoe Lake School teacher Lillian Farr and her father, Judge Bill Vernon, are buried here. She inspired a few generations of Tahoe kids, including me, to love Jeffrey pines, manzanita, and Dat-So-La-Lee, the Washoe basket maker extraordinaire. Vernon was a kindly old gentleman who I remember puttering through town with a smile on his face; in his younger days he was the first director of the Tahoe City Public Utility District and was Tahoe City's justice of the peace in the 1940s. Some of the parents of my childhood friends are here, including several who made important community contributions. Bill and Mary Anna Conners were godparents to my little sister and frequent visitors to our home, but Bill was best known as the owner of what was known as Conner's Station in the center of town, when gas stations used to serve as meeting places like post offices. Bill and Bernie Bechdolt and Carl and Elsie Bechdolt donated the land for the cemetery, which explains why they now lie in a prominent spot next to their beloved golf course. Carl, who managed the course, was known as 'the Hawk' because he always had his eye out for anyone who had the nerve to be joy-riding the course in a golf cart. He scared the hell out of us Tahoe City kids. Even today, I still walk sheepishly when crossing the golf course grounds, wondering if the Hawk is watching.

Basel and Ethel Kehoe arrived at Trail's End only two months apart. They owned Kehoe's Market, the only market in town in the early ’60s. I remember Basel as a tall, grumpy old guy when I was a little tyke. Perhaps he was cranky because I would frequently collect red wagonloads full of returnable bottles and take them to Kehoe's to get the deposits back. I remember one time the store was full of paying customers waiting anxiously in line for him to finish counting my bottles, a process delayed further when I suggested he shorted me a nickel.

Some of my former neighbors are at Trail's End. Ron Attardi was a local contractor who lived across the street. He was in the process of building the Cobblestone Cinema in 1971 when he was in a car accident. After a community effort to save him failed, his funeral became the first one I ever attended. Rose Demattei also rests at Trail's End. She was the red-haired Italian lady who dished out real estate advice and yummy Italian food. All that good eating must be why my daughter has the middle name Rose.

While our society is trending away from traditional funerals and burials and moving toward the scattering of ashes in mountain meadows and joyous life celebrations under the blue sky, it is important to remember that Trail's End holds the collective memory of our community. I recommend spending some time there on a quiet morning. Strolling through this little grove of trees and headstones, you’re sure to discover a piece of Tahoe City's past.

~ Tim Hauserman grew up in Tahoe City. He wrote the guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Comment on this column below.

 
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Reader comments so far...

Mary Carnell (not verified)
Walking along the paths of Trail's End through your article, Tim, brings back so many childhood memories. Graves decorated with Tahoe granite and pine needles reminds me that some parts of Tahoe never change! Thank you, Tim, for "digging up" memories of our childhood and the amazing people that colored our days. It is so astounding how short our lives truly are! I am thankful that God provided that we would grow up in Tahoe and that I would marry into one of the oldest Tahoe families, many of whom rest in peace at Trail's End!

Natalie Snider (not verified)
This is beautifully done, and brought back so many memories. You are quite a writer. Thank you!!!

Brandon App (not verified)
I know that I say this for our entire family. We are so blessed to live in such an amazing area with so many wonderful people. We thank you for recognizing her as an important part of the community. Her spirit will live on and thank you for writing such a great article!

Mike Kehoe (not verified)
"I was pleased to see and read your story about Trail's End Cemetery. It was especially nice to note some of your warm comments about the wonderful and interesting people who helped to make Tahoe City such a great place. I would like to make a few minor corrections about one aspect of your story regarding my parents, BASIL and ROSINA Kehoe. (I assume it was a minor editing error, but my Mom's name was definitely not, "Ethel") Also, in the early 60's there were actually three small grocery stores in town "Jack and Dinty's Market, The Village Store, and Kehoe's General Merchandise. (That was also about the time that Safeway opened their first store in the area.) Again, I enjoyed your story and appreciate the kind remembrance of my parents. Thank you."

Tim Hauserman (not verified)
"Thanks for the correction Mike on your Mom's name, sorry about that. I certainly remember your Dad. We lived just up the street about 100 yards from what we just thought of as Kehoe's and it was on my regular rounds. This was back in the day when kids left the house in the morning and came back at the end of the day, so there was plenty of time to roam around."

Andy Bechdolt (not verified)
I just wanted to say what a well written article you did. As a Bechdolt even of the younger sort I grew up on the golf course and cemetery was actually a special place. Like our town that we grew up in. So thank you.

Monica Caldari (not verified)
"Thank you, Tim for bringing back the joyful memories of those who've lived and loved in Tahoe. I am the Spanish teacher at Creekside Cooperative Charter School in Tahoe City. Each year around November 1, we celebrate the Day of the Dead. This year we made a pilgrimage to Trail's End. Most students had never been to a cemetery before. As we walked through, the children took note of the special items on the graves and felt the spirits close by; without fear or trepidation. Before leaving we shared our own stories of loved ones departing and ate Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead), a traditional Mexican sweet bread. Your thoughtful essay reminded me of that extraordinary day and reiterated how important it was to bring these students to such a lovely place. Gracias!"

Rory Drake (not verified)
Tim, Thanks for writing this. I have friends there and I am glad that you took the time to remember.

Elani Malone (not verified)
I want to take the time to thank you Tim Hauserman for this truly touching article. I always love visiting the sites at Trails End Cemetery as my brother's grave is located there. You mentioned in your article..."the Scooby Doo and wind chimes placed by the headstone of a 27-year old". He, as all others there, are always in our hearts and I'm so touched to know, that no matter how far away I am from my home in Tahoe, that those people are still remembered. Thank you once again.

Janis Sampson Rolleg (not verified)
What a wonderful article. I have wondered through that cemetery many times. A teenager I looked up to as a child is buried there - a victim of a traffic accident - Jackie Marier. Family still lives in the area. I believe Steve & SueJean Ransom are there also (their father used to manage the old Safeway.) Thank you again.

Lisa Mason (not verified)
It has been years since I walked The Trail's End... every name brought back a memory. Our little town has had it's share of grief, but also so much joy. Thinking back on Julie Fenley, Bobby Everson... Lillian Farr and Dat-So-La-Lee... Wow! I read your article five times, taking in each name. Thank you for your walk... although a reminder of past tragedies, it also brought back memories of special times.

Don Marks (not verified)
Tim, I just happened to be looking for some information on my elemetary school teacher (Lillian Farr) when I ran across your article. It was very nice reading and brought back a lot of memories. I lived on Fairway Drive, just down the street from Trails End when we first moved to Tahoe City in about 1969. I was 10 years old and remember wandering around the cemetary often, reading headstones and later asking my parents about the people buried there. I remember many of the names you mentioned but I moved from the area long ago and have lost touch with all but a few friends. The North Tahoe area was really a great place to spend my childhood and I have always had great memories of Tahoe City. Thanks for reminding me of a very special place.

Janice Tippin (not verified)
As the manager of the Trail's End Cemetery and Secretary to the Board of Directors from 1990 through 2000 I have to say, Tim, that your article captured the essence of the cemetery. I assisted many of the families of those mentioned in your article in picking out just the right resting spot for their loved one. In the case of the many of the young people, it was just heartbreaking for me to meet with the families as I came to care about their children too. When Jerry and I visit Tahoe in the summer from our desert home I always try to make a quick trip through the cemetery to touch base with all those souls. I am honored to have helped in a very difficult time for so many - I tried to do it with grace and compassion during an incredibly sorrowful experience. Thank you for the great article. Janice Tippin

Anonymous (not verified)
There is a difference between an apparent drug overdose and an actual overdose and all records state "apparent" so unless you know something all others do not then state it as it is - "apparent" because your words hurt even now after all these years!

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March 14, 2019