Famous Shrine ‘models’ visit local temple

       Thirty-six years ago Shriner Al Hortman of Evansville, Ind., was helping at his club's annual party for Shriners Hospital for children when he saw 5-year-old Bobbi Jo Wright having trouble negotiating a rocky area with her cruches. So he picked her up, carrying her with his left arm and her crutches in his right. Randy Dieter (left) stands with statue “models” Al Hortman and Bobbi Jo Wright.
Bill Edwards photo
       Randy Dieter, a photographer with the local newspaper, saw them. He took a picture that ran in his paper. The logo modeled from the photo has since become the International Shrine Club icon - known as the “Editorial Without Words” (sometimes as the “Silent Messenger”) - and has been adapted in statue form outside many Shrine clubs/temples.
       Last month the three individuals, in a rare joint appearance, came to the Westside for a rededication of the statue that was erected five years ago outside the Colorado Springs Shrine Club, 6 S. 33rd St.
       “They were great. They had a great time together,” said Earl Aldrich, a Colorado Springs Shriner who was one of their main escorts. They were especially impressed to be picked up in a limousine. “They said they'd never been treated so graciously,” Aldrich said.
       During their three-day visit, the trio were shown around Colorado Springs, joined the Apple Blossom Parade in Penrose, and helped dedicate a new “Editorial Without Words” statue at the Pueblo Shrine Club.
       Hortman told the local Shriners he didn't feel he'd done anything special that day in Indiana. “'I was just a Shriner there helping the children,'” Aldrich quoted Hortman as saying. Aldrich expressed agreement with how the man felt: “That's what you hear all the Shriners say. They just wanted to help children, so they joined.”
       Dieter talked about how he almost didn't get the picture at all. His camera had jammed, and the eventual photo, taken from behind, was the last shot on his roll.
       Wright, who was born with cerebral palsy but can get around now with a cane, told the Shriners that the surgeries she had in their hospitals greatly improved her ability to walk.
       “She said, 'I don't know what would have happened to me if it hadn't been for the Shriners,'” Aldrich recalled. She has been quoted elsewhere that she liked it that the photo (and the ensuing logo) captured the vignette from behind. “Being a view from the back, it could represent any Shriner and any child,” she told an Evansville newspaper reporter in 2003.
       There are 22 Shriners hospitals. The first was built in 1922, originally with the goal of helping children crippled by polio. The care is provided at no charge to patients or their families.

Westside Pioneer article