Saturday, March 29, 2014


"Joe" (right) and friend - abt. 1976 Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Hello there,
For about 20 years I have been trying to find some information about the where about of Joe Murtha.  I met a Joe Murtha in Philadelphia in 1976, kept a friendship with him for many years, mainly through correspondence, I saw him last in 1990. Soon after that I lost contact.  I have written to old addresses, to old organizations in which he was active in the 70s and 80s and  Googled his name many times through out the years.
Today I tried again, I Googled his name and the information in the form of Memorial page came up, the one that you have created. I would like to know more about his last years of life.  Some how his abruptly stop of communication with me has been an enigma that bothered me.  I would like to chat with you about Joe if you allow me. I almost sure your Joe is the same Joseph Hope Murtha that I met and lived at 1926 Spruce St, Philadelphia in the summer of 1976. He made in mark in my life.
Paz y Bien,

I received this e-mail last night.  I knew Joe Murtha.  He was a friend of mine…..sort of.  

Joe - 1980 at "The Ranch"

Back in the day, Joe and I were very competitive when we used to frequent the 247 Bar in Philadelphia.  Yes Virginia, back in my "every weekend out to the bars looking for Mr. Right."  

I received this e-mail from someone who knew Joe and wondered what happened to him. This is one of the many things I like about the Internet and the Digital Age.  Unfinished business can be resolved.  

Me and "Mr. Right" at The Ranch - 1980

In the years since I began my blog in 2005, I have received several such inquiries from my past.  I am always glad to help provide information to those who are attempting to close a chapter in their life.

Maybe not "Mr. Right" after all

I called Juan V. today and gave him the information on Joe that he asked for.  I told him that Joe died in 1994 of AIDS related causes.  I also told him that Joe was cremated and his ashes spread over his five acre parcel of property he and is partner Bob M. (who died a year previously also of AIDS related causes) owned and spent their weekends away from their home in New Jersey.

Joe (center) with my friend Bob H. (on left - lots of "Bobs" in my life) and my other friend Bob (on the right with finger pointing)
Juan told me that he was involved in Catholic Charities (for which Joe worked) and Joe was very kind to him.  We traded some stories about Joe but one we both agreed on that Joe was very cheap.  I remember one time I arrived at "The Ranch" (which is what we called the single wide trailer that Bob M. had where we all used to congregate for a Weekend Away From Philadelphia), and Joe and his partner Bob M. (yes, yet another "Bob") were sitting at the table). So what did Joe say to me as soon as I walked in the door?  Did he say "Hi Ron!"  Oh no, he says "We only brought enough food for ourselves (as he cradled his can of Campbell's Pork and Beans), you'll have to buy your own food!"  That was Joe, cheap to the end.  I told Joe "I don't expect you to buy my food, I'll buy my own food and by the way, how are you this evening?" This exchange reminded me of the "Howard Entrance" scene in "The Boys In The Band."  

Joe eating "his food" at Bob's table

Yes, that was the kind of contentious relationship Joe and I had.  I could tell many more stories of Joe but I prefer to keep my blog postings short and to the point, lest I put anyone to sleep.  But it was interesting to dredge up yet another memory from the my sordid Past on this rainy and cold Saturday in March 2014, 34 years later.  

Joe could put Don Rickles to shame.  Our mutual friend Bob said (and yes, there was yet another Bob for a total of FIVE BOBS!) that "after five minutes with Joe you could do pull-ups from the curb."  And you know folks, as contentious as our relationship was, I sort of miss Joe.  I miss the sparing.  I miss the camaraderie (such as it was).  But time moves on, the cast of actors fall by the wayside, only memories remain.  And then there are those few who are left standing, left to contemplate the past and face the uncertain future, sure in the knowledge that one day someone in the future will ask the question "Do you know whatever happened to Ron?"  Well folks, they say the Internet is forever and here I am, recording this history for posterity.  I have found my calling, my purpose in life.  

Rest in peace Joe.

Richard, Joe, Bob 1, Bob 2, Fuzzy - 1980 - Another time, another place, a better place - all gone now.


  1. Replies
    1. Dr. Spo,
      Joe would have been a challenge for you. Goodhearted yet self-destructive and mean at the same time.

  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    I, too, "enjoy"(?) the memories like this. It's nice to reconnect with people who had similar interests and knew my friends. I've found several people through third party "No idea they could have known ____" encounters.

    A fine tribute to someone who seems like, although he was cheap, a good friend.

    Peace <3

    1. Jay,
      Cheap isn't the word for Joe. He was downright miserly. He lived very frugally all his life and when he died he left an estate of over $250,000. Didn't take a penny with him. Joe was a piece of work but he was a friend.

  3. Thanks for Sharing .....

    1. Roger,
      Just another one of the memories from my kaleidoscope past.

  4. Anonymous10:01 PM

    Dear Ron: I just noticed that you no longer have a link to "on transmigration.' Did you and the cajun have a falling out??? Is there anything I can do? He isn't well........just wondering. Miles

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Miles,
      I am sorry he isn't well. But I have distanced myself from him. He only seems capable of striking out at me. I don't need it. I have enough problems of my own to deal with, including my own family. I wish him well. Thank you for your offer of help but there is nothing to be done from my side. I'm tired.


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