The Mysterious Path That Led Her to the Wizard of Oz

In an unexpected coincidence, she stumbled upon a surprising headstone in the cemetery.

Posted in , Jul 18, 2019

A tombstone that reads Frank Morgan 1890 - 1949.

It was a sunny Saturday morning, the start of Memorial Day weekend. I was in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery with my son’s Cub Scout pack. Their mission: to put an American flag by all the graves of World War I soldiers in a specific section. It was easy to match the enthusiasm of the Lion Cubs, little kindergartners. The cemetery is huge—478 acres—and that day, we were walking in a part of it that I’d never visited before. 

We’d found the first grave pretty easily. Numbers two and three were harder to find. Number four was missing altogether. We combed the area marked on the map but could find no headstone. A little sad, we planted the flag about where we thought the grave should be and went in search of the fifth.

We followed the curve of a road, enjoying the peace of the day. The den leader carrying our map suddenly pointed down the road to the left.

“I think our next soldier is down there.”                            

“What’s the name?”

Another parent carried a printout of the soldiers’ names and burial plot numbers. “Carlos Siegert Wuppermann,” she said.

A few yards ahead, we found his grave. Below the name on the headstone was a nickname: “Carlyle Morgan.” Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another headstone. It was larger than Carlos’s and covered with pebbles and other trinkets. That person must have a big family, I thought. 

I shielded my eyes and read the name on that stone. “Frank Morgan Wupperman.” The name reminded me of a story I was working on for the August/September issue of Mysterious Ways magazine. A story about Frank Morgan, the actor who portrayed the Wizard in The Wizard of OzAs the copy chief, I read every article in the magazine several times. It was strange to see a name so similar to that of someone we’d recently written about.

Then I noticed some of the other items on the stone. Was that a Screen Actors Guild card? I pulled out my phone, and, squinting in the sun, typed the name from the headstone into Google. I could hardly believe the result.

Without a yellow brick road in sight, I had stumbled on Carlos’s little brother—the Wizard of Oz!

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