Part of me wanted to let dead, ass-hauling, motorcycle daredevils lie. Who cares what happened to him? But my inner journalist is pesky, loud, and very often difficult to ignore, so I dug deeper.
In April, 1952, National Geographic magazine published a multi-page feature about Hays, Kansas. It included this photo of the Bemis Pool.
"A maze of derricks"
The cutline which accompanied the NatGeo photo. Fred Bemis's granddaughter (my mother, Geri Ordway) had a copy and gave it to me.
After abandoning his family, Ell moved around a lot, chasing adventure. Here's a handwritten letter of resignation from the Army Corps in 1956. Bound for Utah in search if uranium.
Fried in Phoenix
One of Champ's cousins unearthed this gem. In a dusty box in the attic labeled, "Maday."
Fear and Loathing in Fresno
One of the Ell's daughters from his third marriage said the hospital tracked down their mother, told her he was dying, and she wanted absolutely nothing do with him. His race is listed as "Mexican." I suspect he was pulling some legs.