Al Chymia’s Shrine Oriental Band
Al Chymia’s Shrine Oriental Band was organized in 1925. Many think that this unit really presents the most representative impression to the public and the Nobility of what Dhriner imagery is all about. The members are dressed like “Sons of the Desert”, play weird sounding tunes on the musettes and other instruments, and give an overall look and sound of mystery that conjures up the right atmosphere where pageantry is really like.
According to our information there were about eighteen charter members and among them were F, C. “Pappy” Fraser, Everett Cowan, J. C. “Bill” Hankins, and Dave Williams. Of these three later served as AL Chymia Potentates – Cowan (1938), Hankins (1949) and Dave Williams in 1961.
Sometime in 1938 the Oriental Band was upgraded to such an extent that it gains the reputation as the “Best Band in the Land”. The fact that it had gotten many talented men who could play good sounds on the musettes had a lot to do with this.
One of the eye-catching parts of the unit in its performances was the presence of Fatima with “her” guard doing “her” outstanding gyrations to the weird oriental tunes. The first Fatima was Bill Hankins, and “her guard was “Pappy” Fraser. In 1939 Fraser went into the Navy and George Bunnell took over as Fatima’s guard. Shortly after that Bill Hankins went into World War II and Harry Sauer became the second Noble to serve as Fatima for the Oriental Band.
In addition to doing out thing in the music world, we have had several members who have distinguished themselves in other areas of Masonry and Shrinedom. Three of them went on to become Grand Master of the Grand lodge of Tennessee. R. L. “Mike” Allen, Wiley O. May, and James McFaddin. Several others have served as Potentate – in addition to Cowan, Hankins, and Dave Williams, they were Mike Allen, Arthur Sample, Matthew Cole, I. M. Bilsky and Raymond Sayle. There were four to serve as president of the Southeastern Shrine Oriental Band Association – Mike Allen, Dave Williams, Pete Pichler, and Eddie Conrad.
In 1959 Potentate Tom Lucas asked our unit to get some men to put on part of the ritual at the Ceremonials for the enlightenment of the candidates. Colonel Riley was the first director of work and served until 1964. This lapsed for a couple of years but began again under the direction of George E. Craig. He has served in this capacity until the early eighties.
In our efforts to continue good service to the Temple, we keep recruiting Nobles who are interested in our type of entertainment. Not to mention all of the fun we have together.
The unit meeting will be at 6pm before the temple stated meeting.
Contact Brandon Wilson at Craneguyiuoe624@gmail.com for more information about the oriental band.