Chapel Hill’s ‘Squeaky’ Morgan dies


John “Squeaky” Morgan

A beloved Chapel Hill figure and former Ramshead Rathskeller waiter died last week — evoking memories for longtime town residents.

John “Squeaky” Morgan died Sunday, Oct. 13 at the age of 72. He once sold hot dogs from a cart at what used to be the Bank of America building at 137 E. Franklin St.

Linda Carver, a Carrboro resident who went to school with Squeaky, said he was widely known for having the tastiest hot dogs on Franklin Street. She said Squeaky impressed her with his grit.

“Everybody said he had the best hot dogs,” Carver said. “I was always interested in him being in business for himself. He had a determination to try to do something on his own.”

Carver said Squeaky always loved what he did and was determined to succeed even when his cart ran into obstacles with sanitation laws.

But Squeaky didn’t just love hot dogs — Carver said he loved his hometown team.

“He loved Carolina because he wore the colors,” she said. “I’m thinking that he even sold hot dogs at the games.”

Don Pinney, manager of the Sutton’s Drug Store grill on Franklin Street, said Squeaky’s hot dogs were standard but quality fare.

“You don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “It worked fine just the way it was.”

Before hot dogs, Squeaky worked as a waiter at the famous Rathskeller, now closed, Pinney said.

He said the distinctive nickname might have originated at the restaurant.

“All the waiters at the ‘Rat’ had nicknames: Squeaky, Pop, Lion, Ozark,” Pinney said.

“Everyone had a nickname down there.”

Ulyses Cozart, a Durham resident and former headwaiter at the Rathskeller, said the nickname had been with Morgan since at least the early 1960s when Cozart started as a waiter there.

“I worked with him at the Rathskeller for about 30 years,” Cozart said.

“(The nickname) was attached to him when we met. We always called him Squeaky.”

He said Squeaky was artistically talented in addition to being an excellent waiter.

“He could really draw and paint. That was a gift from God,” Cozart said.

“He was a very good waiter: a people person.”

The Rathskeller wait staff worked hard — sometimes 10 or 12 days in a row — and formed a special bond, Cozart said.

“We were all like brothers,” he said. “We worked together. We partied together.”

Cozart said he shared a room with Squeaky in an apartment off of Franklin Street during the period between his own high school graduation and marriage.

Despite the moniker, Cozart said Squeaky was a quiet, caring person.

“If you weren’t looking at him you wouldn’t know he was in the room,” Cozart said.

“But he would do anything to help you.”

A funeral service for John “Squeaky” Morgan will be held at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Chapel Hill at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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