I come from a long line of outdoor enthusiasts who love hunting, fishing, camping, etc. In 1994 one of our old family friends, Alfred Ebner, was featured in the Thanksgiving weekend Star-Tribune Sunday paper in an article written by Sports Writer, Dennis Anderson. He titled it “96 year old Elk River man shoots 2 bucks, Opening Morning” and included a photo of old Alfred kneeling between the two deer. As I read the article, he mentioned Alfred was praying the Rosary on his deer stand and was interrupted by the two deer, twenty minutes apart from one another.
In the 1930’sAlfred Ebner founded Ebners Bait Store, now on highway #10 as you come into Elk River from Anoka. His great grand son still runs it. My grandfather, David Dehen and Alfred’s older brother, Eric Ebner, were best friends and ended up marrying two Endres sisters from Hampton, MN in a double wedding ceremony shortly after the turn of the century.
Being from a strong Germanic background, the way one shows affection and friendship is though playful harassment and teasing. My Dad and I took immediate action by going to the craft store and buying a bag of miniature plastic deer and a long piece of blaze orange lanyard. We created the first and only “official Ebners Bait Store, deer hunters Rosary” with a guarantee that you will see deer every time you pray it. Framed and mounted on a fancy backing and encompassing the laminated Star-Trib article, the Rosary was ready for a formal presentation to Alfred at an upcoming family Christmas gathering. Timing is everything. On December 8th, Alfred died in his sleep, before we could present him the deer hunters Rosary.
At his funeral, Ron Ebner, a St. Albert’s of Albertville, MN classmate with my Dad and son to Alfred, told me an interesting story. He spoke of a day in 1952 when Albert was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given six months to live, by his doctor’s best guess. Being a father of nine children, fearful of their wellbeing and a devout Catholic, he turned to his Faith. He prayed to God, to Mary, to St. Joseph and petitioned any and all saints who would listen and intercede with the power necessary to let him live a long and productive life. In return, he promised to pray a daily Rosary for as long as he shall be allowed to live. In 1994, at age 96, he died on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th.
The wake and funeral was a huge celebration of his life, family and faith. I sheepishly told Ron Ebner about the rosary we made and he insisted I go out to the truck and bring it in. Dare’s Funeral Parlor in Elk River, found an easel and displayed the “Alfred Ebner, Official Deer Hunters Rosary” between two massive murals consisting of hundreds of hunting and fishing photo’s dating back to 1919, when the Ebners first got a camera. The Rosary was the highlight of the wake. Everyone commented on Alfred never being without his precious Rosary and how it saved his life.
Now there’s a real good, ole fashioned Rosary miracle. However, as Paul Harvey says, so well, “and now….the rest of the story”, which is exactly how I will start the December Rosary story in next months publication as this is a two part “bonus” Rosary story.