Past Units and Clubs
Gone but not forgotten
The Camel Herders, a group within Al Chymia, were active in providing support to the temple in their projects and fellowship to our members. They worked in several different ways to help raise funds for the Transportation Fund, which is used to transport the children to our hospitals and to help parents or guardians defray expenses involved when going with a child to hospitals. Most people are aware that Shrine hospitals never charge a patient for any of the treatments, but few realize the time and expense involved when a parent or guardian has to stay and learn how to care for the child after it is able to leave the hospital.
The committee met regularly – usually on the fourth Sunday of each month, generally a dinner meeting, and the Ladies were invited and encouraged to participate in the social functions
Past Presidents of the Camel Herders were: Robert Baker, Sr. – 74, 75; Hiram Pope, 76, 78, 82, 83, 90; Bill Reed, 79, 80; Maury Wade, 81, 85; John Muntian, 84, 89; John Wood, 86; Blair Goins, 87; Clyde Pollard, 88; Irv Jason, 91; Crue Russell, 92; Hollis Thomason, 93; Glen Braun, 94; Charles Frith, 95; Raymond Byrd, 96; William Cocks, 97.
BROWNSVILLE TIN LIZZIES
The Tin Lizzies Unit was organized in 1960 at Brownsville under the leadership of Noble Eddie Splann. He and these seven Nobles made up the original eight: Eddie Splann, President; Russell Moor, Secretary-Treasurer; John Sowell, Arnett Hill, Bill Powell, Bob Brantley, Waymon Worthy, and Jack Smith.
Eddie Splann worked hard and led this group until bad health forced him to step down in 1972. Billy Brown Thomas took over as President and served until 1977.
As in all units, the fun was is in practicing and doing the job during parades, competitive events, and going to the Conventions to represent the Temple.
While there are some facts to show the existence of Al Chymia Chanters prior to 1945, later the organization showed a regular schedule of rehearsals and existence during the “reign” of Potentate Wray Williams. Two Nobles attended the first meeting. During the year the number had grown to six. By the following year, when W. B. Smith was Potentate, the Al Chymia Shrine Chanters grew in number and took part in the ceremonial and began a schedule of activities that was to continue throughout the ensuing years.
The first memorial service to be broadcast over radio found the Chanters providing the choral music with the WMC String Ensemble accompanying. Performing annually at the memorial service, at churches, civic clubs, Masonic festivities and other events has been the making of history for the Chanters.
Minstrel shows were a very popular form of entertainment during the early years of the 20th century and beginning in November 1948, the famous Al Chymia Shrine Minstrels were staged in Memphis and throughout the area (West Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi) until 1960.
To chronicle the many, many performances the Al Chymia Chanters made would indeed require a small booklet. But throughout the years certain memorable events stand out; appearing in Grant Park, Chicago; before President Harry Truman where 25,000 attended; singing with light opera star Eddie Roecker in summer concerts at Overton Park in 1953 and 1954; the concert at Ellis Auditorium when our guest star was Andy Williams; the banquet and concert at Belle Isle Park in Detroit at the Imperial; the spectacular pageant when George Klepper became Imperial Potentate in 1962 at Toronto and the Shrinearama in the International Exposition Grounds; appearing at the opening of Memphis’ first Rodeway Inn with its president, A. Wayne Oldham, at the piano; singing and staging shows for National Housing Authority Convention and National Rose Gardeners Convention, and, for the state Convention of the Travelers Protective Association; these and many other occasions will stand out in our recollections.
While many of our faithful have passed to their reward it is fitting that we pay tribute to one of the greats in our musical world, Ernest F. Hawke, our Associate Director, “Fess” was a composer and director of note. He was Director of Music in Memphis City Schools for a lifetime and his presence in the Chanter group was always an inspiration. He was one of the finest!
Honors that have come to many of our members bring honor to Al Chymia Shrine Chanters. Elected to the presidency of Southeastern Shrine Chanters have been Wilson Mount, Fred Werne, John Bondurant, Howard Winn, Randall Johnson and Andrew Haley. John Wood was in ascendancy line soon after. Fred Werne was editor of Musical Notes, the publication of Shrine Chanters of North America. Wilson Mount was president of SCAONA in 1955. Howard Winn served as Potentate of the Temple in 1978. For many years, since the beginning of competition among Shrine Chanters, Al Chymia Shrine Chanters became “the most famous and best “second place” chanters in all Shrinedom. That was all changed in 1971 when we were judged champions of the Southeastern Shrine Association. Just to prove it was no “fluke”, Al Chymia Chanters won the Imperial Championship in 1973 at Atlanta. With a very excellent singing group, Al Chymia Chanters promised many more delightful performances as they appeared throughout the area and the nation.
Since 1945 the Chanters have been an important part of Ceremonial and entertainment in Al Chymia. W. Wilson Mount was the key to getting the group going as its Director for many, many years, and we all salute him for his untiring and talented efforts on our behalf. Others who have directed from time to time include: A. Wayne Oldham, Randall Johnson, John Bondurant and Harold Truebger. Our last Director was Larry Cunningham, and our last President was Bill Dickey who has served in that capacity since 1994 until the unit folded..
Sometime in 1970, several of the members of the Motor Corps began discussing the idea of forming a new and different type unit – something even more eye-catching than a real shiny Harley. After receiving approval from the Potentate, it was decided to go to a dune buggy four-wheeler. They came up with a beautiful maroon and gray, sparkling fiberglass body set on a VW chassis with a VW engine and everything else up to snuff to make the fanciest set of wheels for the great bunch of fun-lovers to go out and shine for the Shrine.
The original ten Nobles who put this act together began the official unit in April of 1971: David H. Malone, Commander; Glenn Shelton, Co-Commander; Billy Babb, Buddy Bright, Joe Breashears, A. B. Anglin, Jr.; Nolen Cleaves, Ray Gilliam. Paul Patey, J. M. “Pat” Patterson.
In 1972, Nolen Cleaves took over as Commander and led the unit all over the place to let the others in the Temple see the guys put on their show. Then, in 1973, Dave Malone went back in and led them in the Imperial in Atlanta -to Nashville for the SESA in 1974 – to Orlando for the SESA in 1975 – and to Jacksonville for the SESA in 1976. After that, it was Ray Gilliam’s tum to be the Commander – and the host to a lot of four-wheelers in Memphis for the SESA. Moreover, for the year of 1978 Gene McDaniel became the Commander, and continued to lead this colorful unit. In addition to riding in our Ceremonial parades, civic parades in and around Memphis and all over West Tennessee, this group has twice been invited and participated in a Governor’s Inaugural Parade. They have received many Honorary Colonel appointments from appreciative Governors from time to time. Although the personnel changes from time to time, the spirit stayed high in this group of Nobles in the colorful dune buggies. After this unit folded remaining buggies went into the Motor Corp.
The purpose of this organization was to welcome new and visiting Nobles, members of Al Chymia, visitors from other Shrine Temples and guests, when they arrive at Al Chymia Temple or Shrine sponsored activities. This group also served, as requested by the Potentate, or his representative of the Divan.
History of this Unit began in 1941. Throughout the following years, it has been known as Reception Committee, Reception to Visiting Nobles, Greeters Committee and Greeters Unit.
Even though the group was called by different titles, their primary function remained that of greeting people and making them feel comfortable and welcome.
Heritage of this Unit also includes elected officers of the Southeastern Greeters and Hospitality Association, who were: Bob Hagenhoff, President 1982; Jack Hudson, President 1987; Oscar Gilchrist, 3rd Vice President 1989.
A Noble, Dewey C. Waddell, was elected to the Al Chymia Divan and elected Potentate for 1984, followed by Oscar Gilchrist, Potentate in 1995. This unit is missed by one and all.
JACKSON SHRINE MOTOR CORPS
In 1969, the Jackson Motor Corp. was formed with permission from Potentate I. M. Bilsky. When started, they had 14 members who rode Honda mini-motorcycles. As the years progressed, they moved up to Honda 200’s. They were beautiful red and black cycles with chrome fenders, white saddlebags and clear windshields. The Motor Corps had won many 1st and 2nd place trophies at the Tennessee Association of Shrine Motor Corp. Conventions (T ASM C), and the Southeastern Association of Shrine Motor Corp. Conventions (SASMC).
They rode in many parades such as The Humboldt Strawberry Festival, The Paris Fish Fry, most of the neighboring towns’ Christmas parades, and many Temple functions. They were always glad to ride for the promotion of Shrinedom and the burned and crippled children that the Shriners represent.
Let us not forget that they could not make those rides and promotions without the support of all their lovely and thoughtful wives.
The last members and their wives were as follows: Scott Akin, Bill and Sarah Case, Glenn and Jeannie Cooper, Jack and Zelda Davis, David and Sarianne Goforth, Farrell and Anna Harper (Hospitality), Harold (Hogie) and Tillie Hogancamp (Master Mechanic), Dean and Inez LeCornu, James and Betty Mills, Hermon (Who) Odle, Mario and Val Orosa, Buddy and Brenda Ryan (Secretary), Gary and Lurline Scates (Captain), Thomas and Jesse Stegall, and Harold (Doc) and Shirley Williams (Motor Sergeant).
Nobles who have served as Captain: Glenn Barton, 1969-1970; Robert Dailey, 1971; Harold Williams, 1972, 1987-1991; Irby (Humko) Graves, 1973; Bobby Henderson, 1974; Charles Williams, 1975, 1980; Jimmy Jordan, 1976; Sol Tuchfeld, 1977; Farrell Harper, 1978; Harold Hogancamp, 1979; Russ Richmond, 1981; John Stockard, 1982; Gary Scates, 1983-85, 1997; Bill Case, 1986; Thomas Stegall, 1992; Mario Orosa, 1993; Jack Davis, 1994; Dean LeComu, 1995; Hermon Odle, 1996; Gary Scates, 1997.
After the 1986 SAS MC competition in Memphis, they decided to get into four-wheel vehicles if the Temple would permit. Potentate A. B. Williams gave the unit permission and at the 1987 Atlanta SASMC, they selected 1932 B-Model Roadsters.
The Jackson Shrine Motor Corps thoroughly enjoyed riding and competing in their roadsters and looked forward to many years of performing together as a Shrine Unit to benefit the children who needed their help. They have passed their cars to the Jackson Shrine Club.
The Mounted Patrol was formed in December 1952. W. A. Whitsitt, Hoyette Austin, Jr., Carter Ryan and F. M. Cooper were the founding members. It actively started operations in January of 1953 and W. A. Whitsitt was the first Captain under the direction of Potentate Blanchard S. Tuai.
Originally Palomino Horses were selected as the breed required. The last breed was the American Bred Quarter Horse. The uniform was a gray western cut dress suit with the maroon Shrine neck tie, a gray western hat with special permission from the Imperial, the fez emblem on the hat is cut from a regulation fez and held in place with an elastic strap.
For the last four years, the unit sponsored a “Trail Ride” with all proceeds going to the Shriner’s Hospitals. They planned for this event to grow each year.
This unit competed at the Imperial and the Southeastern Shrine Association Conventions, Christmas parades, etc. If you make a quick check of the unit room, you will be able to bask in the glow of their trophies and ribbons that attested to their proficiency.
Since their inception, they had twenty-seven Captains. Their horses were always a big hit in the parades and they are truly missed by one and all.
Three months after the date of April 1891, when a dispensation for a charter had been issued to Al Chymia Temple by the Imperial Council of the Shrine, a group of Nobles joined together and formed the Marching Patrol. The first Patrol Captain was Noble William LaCroix. The first functions of the Patrol were to escort the Potentate and Divan and to act as Temple Guards. A Bedouin type uniform was used made of white monk’s cloth, with a turban. In May 1892, the Patrol with the assistance of J. T. Hinton arranged for horses for all 27 members, and rode as a mounted patrol leading the parade opening the Frisco Railroad Bridge over the Mississippi River. In the late 1800’s, it was the policy of the Temple to send the Patrol and Band to the Imperial Sessions to parade for the Temple. This policy carried forward well into the 1920’s. In 1909 at the Imperial Session in Louisville, Kentucky, the Patrol introduced the first camel into the Imperial Parade. The Patrol was elected as the outstanding unit at the session and received a trophy and served as escort to the Imperial at the Imperial banquet. Noble N. A. Camp was serving as Captain of the Patrol at this time. He was followed by Noble A. H. Kortrecht. In 1913, Nobles James A. Hunt was elected Patrol Captain and served through 1939.
In 1916, the Patrol was selected as escort to the Imperial Potentate at the Imperial Session in Buffalo, New York. Past Potentate Lois D. Bejach was a member of the Patrol at this time. At the Imperial Session in Washington, D.C. in 1921 the Patrol got an idea for a special group as a social organization. The idea was toyed with until 1927 and with the help of P. P. E. A. Rome, the Patrol formed the Musketeers. For a number of years you had to be a member of the Patrol to be invited into this group known as the Musketeers. All activities were held outside the Tempie and all expenses were paid by each individual member. All surplus funds were used for some charitable project.
In the middle thirties, they began taking honorary members and in 1943 they became the Shrine School Committee. Noble E. L. Daughtry served as Patrol Captain in 1940 when the Imperial Session was held in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1941 Noble Harry L. Thomas was elected Patrol Captain and served through 1950. Since 1950 several Nobles have served as Captain of the Marching Patrol, usually terms of two years more or less.
In 1941, the Patrol became members of the Southeastern Shrine Patrol Association at a meeting of the Southeastern Shrine Association in Atlanta, Georgia. This Association was formed to enhance the drill excellency and fellowship of all patrols in the Southeastern Shrine Association. In 1953, the Al Chymia Patrol won first place in competition. In 1957, the Patrol won first place in competition at the Southeastern Shrine Session and the next day won the Inter-Association Competition over Suez Temple of the Texas Patrol Association.
Again, in 1967, the Patrol won first place in the Southeastern Patrol Association Competition under the leadership of Captain Joe C. Myers. In 1978, the Patrol journeyed to Birmingham, Alabama for the Southeastern Patrol Competition and under the leadership of Captain Horace L. Davis won first place in drill and inspection competition.
Since the formation of the Southeastern Patrol Association in 1941, Nobles Tom E. Lucas, P.P.; J. J. “Babe” Jackson, Charlie T. Nichols, Joe C. Meyers and Horace L. Davis have honored Al Chymia Temple and the Patrol by having been elected President of the Southeastern Patrol Association. In 1997, Fred D. Sexton was President of the Patrol Association in 1998.
Listed are the Nobles who have served as Al Chymia Patrol Captain since 1939: E. L. Daughtry, Harry Thomas, Thomas E. Lucas, J. M. Ferguson, Edward A. Rankin, Peter H. Mommsen, John Moore, Joe C. Meyers, Bill Guidry, Charlie Nichols, L. A. McCune, Borah Eisman, Horace L. Davis, J. D. Parks, Fred D. Sexton, Sr.; Charles Simmons, Charles Allen, L. R. Lamport, Rickey Carwile, Delmar Clayton and James “Buddy” Bowles. The Patrol was one of oldest units and still to this day missed by one and all.
In November of 1972, a group of Nobles met at Tipton Lodge #26 of Munford, Tennessee to discuss a suggestion made by Noble R. I. “Pete” Forbes – it was to explore the possibility of forming a motor unit of some type to attract interested Nobles of Tipton County. By early 1973, the necessary arrangements were made and submitted to the Potentate, Virgil Wilder, for his approval. After getting the “go” sign, they decided on the first type vehicles to use – the little red dune buggies. They were small, but colorful!!! Below are listed the original thirteen members: R. I. “Pete” Forbes, Captain; George Baddour, Secretary; Billy Barton, C. E. “Dub” Cole, Jr.; Johnny Crigger, Jr., Lieutenant; Boyd C. Gorham, Jim McKee, 0. J. Naifeh, Bernard Sorrell, Jimmy Stephenson, Chaplain; Emmitt Strauser, Treasurer; Jimmy Walker and Landon Yarbrough.
From the beginning each member bought his vehicle, uniform, and helped the unit become a very active part of Al Chymia Temple. It had now grown to twenty member. In 1978, they retired the “Little Red Dunies” for some real wheels- the new Gold Tricycles. These were really exciting to ride and watch. They made their colorful debut on them at our Shrine Circus in February of 1978 at the coliseum in Memphis and the crowd seemed to love them as much as they did. There currently is only one of these trikes left in the shrine and is owned by Potentate James Morgan.
In 1959, the Brownsville Shrine Club was organized under the leadership of Eddie C. Splann. At the start, there were sixteen Nobles, and through the years, the membership grew. The original group elected Eddie Splann as its president – in addition to being an active Shriner, he was also very active in all the other Masonic bodies in the Brownsville area. The club served the Haywood County area for Al Chymia Temple.
Along with the duties of the club, some of the members decided to organize the Tin Lizzie Unit to add more interest. This was also done in 1959 with the approval of the Potentate, Tom Lucas. The history of this unit is given in the unit section. It helped keep the Brownsville group active and in a position to represent Al Chymia at its various parades, ceremonials and conventions along with showing before the homefolks.
In addition to keeping the Tin Lizzies Unit active, and taking part in many Haywood County civic functions, this Club had been one of the most productive in raising money for the Shrine Annual Paper Sale Drive. This had been a key to the good report year after year from the Clubs in West Tennessee making such a good showing in this effort, which supported our Shriner’s Hospitals and Burns Institutes for Children. You can see many pictures of this unit and how much of a big hit they were to one and all at the parades.
This club began as the Gibson County Shrine Club, and it was not until the 1990s that the Temple added Crockett County to the jurisdiction. The history of this club goes back to World War II days in background information.
Prior to the war there were few Nobles in the area – in Trenton was Will W. Herron, Milton I. Baum of Humboldt and Joe Frank Alexander and N. W. Martin in Milan were among the few. In 1945, G. H. Dickey came back to the area from Mississippi where he had joined Hamasa Temple. By 1947, several more Masons had become Shriners, and it appeared that there was enough interest to start a club by 1948.
This idea was generated at a meeting in Trenton at the Bluebird Cafe when Noble Dickey, Judge Will Herron, and an attorney, Gayle Malone, had a coffee talk about the possibility. It was agreed that Noble Dickey would contact all the Nobles in the county and invite them to a dinner at the old Harrison Hotel in Milan. Potentate Milton Bowers and Recorder Herbert Waterbury were invited and attended. Judge Herron presided at the organizational meeting after the dinner. These Nobles were the officers and members of the charter group in 1948: J. F. Bradberry, President; Ed Jones, Vice President (now Congressman from Yorkville): C. C. Rice, Secretary; Milton I. Baum, Walton Bonds, Floyd M. Burrow, Walter Chapman, Dr. H. P. Clemmer, George Clubreath, Ben G. Denney, G. Harvey Dickey, Judge Herron, Dr. E. 0. Fields, Dr. P. D. Jones, Raymond Markham, N. W. Martin, Houston Herndon, Bill Hilliard, Elias Thornton and Parish Townsend.
Through the years, many prominent members of the area have served this club and Al Chymia in its many endeavors. Most of them consisted in fund-raising activities to have money available to assist parents or guardians of children going to the Al Chymia Hospitals for treatment. The Shrine has never charged a child for treatment.
One of the most notable efforts in fund-raising was begun in 1977 under the leadership of President LaVon Thompson. The idea of having a football bowl game to be staged at Humboldt at the end of each season was approved. The game was to be staged between two eligible teams of the TSSAA from West Tennessee, and the net proceeds to be used for the Transportation Fund. It is good to report that the first game was successful. This game was also a good one, and turned out well for the club’s program.
The club was very fortunate to have had such dedicated men from each county to work for the club and the Shrine in its goal to take care of some of the children from this area. It was hoped that in the years following, the efforts would be even more productive than in the colorful past. This club will be missed.
HARDEMAN COUNTY CLUB
This club was organized in 1978, and served the Temple by having a place where Nobles from Bolivar, Grand Junction, Whiteville, Toone, Saulsbury, Middleton, Silerton, Pocahontas, Hickory Valley and Hornsby could come together for their meetings.
They use to met on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:30 PM – the time and place was set at each meeting for the next meeting.
This group had been active in supporting Temple activities, and had done well in raising money each year for the Paper Drive — proceeds from this effort went to support the Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Burns Institutes.
Their efforts are still missed to this date.
MAGIC VALLEY SHRINE CLUB
In days gone by this was known as the Camden Shrine Club, but it later operated as Magic Valley. It covered Benton County and the towns included Camden, Big Sandy, Morris Chapel and Holladay.
As in other clubs, the activities centered about fellowship and working to support Temple drives. Several retirees who lived in this area lent their experience from other Temples to help in projects when needed. Some of the last leaders included: James R. McDaniel, Joe T. Woodard, C. T. Wiley and Joe Searingen. In 1997, the club use to meet on the third Thursday at 7:00 PM in Camden.
From 1945 to 1949, Nobles of Henry County, Paris and vicinity took part and belonged to the Triangle Shrine club which at that time served Carroll, Benton and Henry counties. In 1949, a group of the active members around and in Paris got permission to form the club. The group elected Noble Jack Hays as its first President.
This club had been active in civic affairs, parades, and worthwhile promotions. One of the events it helped with was the world-famous Tennessee Fish Fry staged each year in the Paris area. Several Potentates used Paris as a site for a special ceremonial to attract eligible Masons in the northeast part of Al Chymia’s jurisdiction. Temple leaders appreciated the efforts of the Nobles to come to any event staged for the Nobility, and they especially appreciated those who have to come from long distances like Henry County. It is Al Chymia’s hopes to restart this club in the near future.