Chief McGhee looked iconic in headdress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Back in the late 1950s, Hugh Rozelle asked me to take a ride with him to the Poarch School. He told me that some photographers from Mobile wanted to take some photos of Chief Calvin McGhee.

As we rode out to the school, I told Hugh that Martin Ritchie at the Atmore Advance had some recent photos of Calvin, which depicted him in his feathered headdress. Rumblings about Creek Indian recognition were beginning to circulate heavily at this time and people wanted more and more information on the Creek tribe. I also told Hugh that Ritchie’s photos of Calvin were simply amazing. His stoic pose was brilliantly captured and his eyes contained an authoritative look that one of Ritchie’s photographer said was “the most professional looking Indian Chief in America.”

Mrs. White, the school principal and the Chief, were waiting when we arrived. As his normal custom, Hugh gave Calvin a big hug. After all, Rozelle would lead the legal team to Washington, D.C. to help gain the Creek’s recognition.

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As it turned out that day, the photographer could not satisfy himself with the photos he was trying to make of Calvin. Hugh suggested we go by the Advance office and take a look at Ritchie’s photos. So we all drove up to the office and when the photographer saw the photos, he said, “this is exactly what I am looking for.” Ritchie gladly gave him some of the photos and the man left very satisfied. But before he left, he commented on the photo depicting Calvin’s professional facial profile and eyes that seemed to “charm you” in an instant. Adorned in his headdress, Calvin indeed symbolically depicted the nation’s most professional Indian Chief.

There was another occasion about two-three years later that I went with Hugh to see Calvin.

It was about 6 p.m. one Saturday when we drove to Calvin’s home. He and his son, Houston, were waiting when we got there. You see, after we picked them up, we headed back into town to enjoy a gospel concert at Byrne Field.

Hugh was big on these big “sings” back then. In fact one night at another concert he was called up on the stage to make a speech. But this night was special. Among the famous performing gospel quartets was a unique family group of singers from North Dakota known as “The Klaudt Indian Family.” Now this group was very popular in those days in the Gospel music field. Calvin had heard about them and was delighted to come out and see them perform. If I remember correctly, the group consisted of six family members and each one of them played a musical instrument. They sang and played brilliantly, offering an excellent four-part vocal harmony.

Hugh had arranged a meeting with Calvin and the group, and sure enough during the intermission they all enjoyed pleasant conversations. The lead singer of the group wore Indian head feathers and graciously removed them and as an act of good will and placed them on Houston’s head. We all got a big kick out of this.

The bind between Calvin and Hugh grew stronger as they prepared themselves for that eventful trip to Washington to plead Poarch’s case for national recognition. As I have written several times, I drove Hugh, Calvin and attorney Lenoir Thompson to the Pensacola airport, where they boarded a plane for Washington. It was only a short time later that decision came down favorably recognizing the Poarch Creek Band.

Now let’s take a look at some news of the day.

And, of course, the news is politically flavored.

Both Republicans and Democrats seemed to be heading in non-norm situations. This is not the time to be favoring the traditional candidates. Moreover, the safe bet seems to be with the outsiders. In particular, if you say or write something bad about Donald Trump you add more votes to his column. Even the Pope can take credit for upping his vote count.

And, you know a group that is really boosting his cause? They are elite Republican pundits like Megan Kelly, Charles Krauthammer, George Wills, Steve Hays and Carl Rove, etc., all of Fox News and Lowery of the National Review Magazine. You would think these darling conservatives would not be singing a tune like this. But they are and they are driving away viewers from Fox, even some are now viewing CNN and MSNBC.

When are these jealous pundits going to learn?

Folks, let’s give a lot of praise and thanks to Bub Gideons and his group for promoting the restoration of our Strand Theatre. His fine organization works tirelessly to maintain the rich tradition of this treasured theatre for all of us.

Can’t you just remember those Saturday afternoons cuddled up with a tasty bag of popcorn and a cool soda watching those class B double features? In addition to the cowboy movies and cliffhanger serials, I always liked those “second” features. There were shows like “Boston Blackie,” “The Falcon,” “The Lone Wolf,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Mummy” and “The Creeper.”

Perhaps some of these nostalgic shows can be brought for us to watch again just like we did in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Keep up the good work Bub and your group.

La Niña is opposite El Niño. And the latter will soon be gone. My friends at Key Flood headquarters said do not be surprised to see more hurricane activity this fall. As one of my friends told me recently, “the law of averages come into play this year,” meaning, of course, we have been absent of storms recently, but watch out.

More news next week.