A 40-year old mystery is solved… the location in Ojai where in 1938, Nelson buried his and Jeanette’s premature baby, Daniel Eddy.
As Linda Knight discussed last week, when Nelson received the phone call that Jeanette had died, he phoned Linda and asked her to accompany him to scatter Jeanette’s ashes as had been planned.
This was so that when Nelson died, Linda would know the exact locations where his ashes needed to be scattered with Jeanette’s.
Remember that Nelson’s will specified that he be cremated, and he requested from Linda that part of his ashes be scattered in Lake Tahoe at a certain place in the water by the south shore…and at a certain location in Ojai. If you have read the 2014 edition of Sweethearts you will know why on both places.
Additionally, if you read my book you know that both Nelson AND Jeanette talked about being cremated many years earlier…and you will also know that neither one of them was in fact cremated.
After Nelson was informed that Jeanette would not be cremated and his “consolation prize” for not making trouble was to help arrange her coffin, he was still determined that his ashes should be scattered according to his wishes. Some six months later he showed Linda the exact locations both at Tahoe and Ojai.
Linda described the Ojai location to me and I asked her to make a precise drawing of the property. Once she did that and provided general area I looked at properties on google earth until lo and behold, I saw the exact configuration that Linda had drawn. Tracy Wilborn was making a trip to that area and I asked her to help and check some records and and not surprisingly, the ownership checked out.
So those who had helped on this particular project came with us and we went to the place in question. Linda had carefully memorized certain landmarks back in 1965 to get the correct position in case the landscape changed. It had changed, there were no original markers left and so she pointed out other landmarks still there that she had told us about in advance. She walked a certain number of paces here and there, looked again at her landmarks, and finally found the spot. We scattered some rose petals, listened to “Danny Boy” and “Song of Love”, wept openly and left.
By the way, as Linda described it in 1965, the original marker Nelson had placed on which he drew Daniel as a cherub was already gone. In its place was a series of 3 boulders; behind them was a half-circle of rose trees. Two other rose trees faced them. Nelson explained to Linda that the two separate trees were in memory of his mother Isabel, and Jeanette. He told Linda that the 8 rose trees grouped together were in memory of not only Daniel but a total of eight “forlorn” souls (Nelson’s words), their 8 lost babies.
This information stunned me…for if you read the 2014 edition of Sweethearts you will see that I took a hard look at every probable pregnancy whether we had definitive verification of it or not, but circumstances when Jeanette was hospitalized for “food poisoning”, for example, and Nelson was so distraught that the almost canceled his Carnegie Hall recital and couldn’t sing. Four pregnancies were well documented with letters or eyewitnesses. In the book, I estimated 8 or 9 pregnancies – basing the others on photographic or written evidence and/or times when Jeanette was “ill” and both she and Nelson subsequently crashed emotionally.
Eight lost babies.
I want to thank Linda for her graciousness in retracing those steps with us. It’s not important where exactly it was, only that we were there and paid our respects to Daniel and his family.