Host: From New York City… twin brothers, Melvin and Marvin Morgan…
Marvin: Mama called Daddy and told him to find two names because she had two twin sons. On his way to the hospital he saw Marvin and Melvin Funeral Homes. He said, ‘I got the two names’.
Melvin: I remember that. [laughs]
Host: Melvin and Marvin both ended up becoming morticians in city morgues… At StoryCorps they talked about their shared calling… and a childhood discovery that led them to their work…
Marvin: So remember down South and we went to go look for great grandma’s grave?
Melvin: We were walking past the cemetery and our cousin––
Marvin: He pointed out, and said ’she’s over there somewhere’.
Melvin: Right, ‘she’s over there somewhere’. Down South, the African Americans cemeteries [were] separate from the Caucasian cemeteries. They were buried in unmarked graves.
No headstone, no nothing.
Marvin: I was really disturbed by that.
I said that ‘one day we’re going to see that people be buried right’.
Marvin: So your first day of the mortuary, what’d you do?
Melvin: It was a heck of an experience to see my comrades cutting up a body with ease and not being frightened, which I was in the beginning. But I knew I was moving into the right field, because I knew that I had an important job to do…
Marvin: What was the hardest thing you ever seen?
Melvin: We were at the epicenter of this pandemic. You know bodies come from the elevator all the way down the corridor to the hallway, to the morgue… lined up.It was hard, especially with the ones that, you know, you knew. I had friends that died. Coworkers. The people that work in the hospital. And they all done went to the freezer.
And I would go play music for them. And talk to them… Don’t think I’m crazy now.
Marvin: Some of these cases, you know, you take it home, and it sits with you. I would talk to you so I can get over it.
Melvin: And vice versa. The same that you do with me.
And I’m not afraid of death. But to be honest with you, if something happened to my twin brother, even though I do this job. I don’t know if I’d be able to take it. That’s why I want to go first.
Marvin: You know, this young lady asked me the other day, she asked me about death, she said ’Well, am I going to heaven?’ I said, ’I don’t know’. [laughs].
Melvin: No one can tell you where you came from. No one can tell you why you here. And no one sure can tell you where you’re going.
Melvin: And I just hope I go out the right way.