(Note: the following article, which appeared in the Feb. 12, 1942 issue of The Andover Townsman, was not attributed to any one writer, but was deemed too good a story to pass up by those at the Andover Historical Society who create this weekly column. The article gives a nostalgic glimpse into life in Andover nearly 70 years ago.)
Three men who were fishing through the ice down at Foster's Pond last Thursday night had an experience the likes of which they won't have again for a long time.
Just at dusk as they were gathering up their tackle, the cry of a woman, either drowning or being murdered, brought them to their feet in a hurry. They stood "frozen to the ice." Again came that mournful, moaning call, followed by a hysterical laugh. They pulled themselves together as best they could and started in the direction from whence the call for help came.
They tracked it down to Bill Davis' camp. Bill is a well-known Boston newspaperman, sportsman, and legal resident in Andover who lives about eight months of the year with Mrs. Davis and son Dick in their snug camp on the edge of the pond. On this particular occasion Mrs. Davis was away and son Dick is with the Marines with Bill Pomeroy, another Foster's Pond resident, at Parris Island, South Carolina.
In the Foster's Pond camp with Bill was his friend of many years, Chief Needahbeh, who for the last 14 years has been Master of Ceremonies at the Sportsmen's Show. For all the years Mr. Davis has lived on the pond, the Chief has made the Davis camp his headquarters. He is widely known in Andover, having lectured at most of the schools.
Well, to get back to the "murdered woman": the three fishermen approached the camp stealthly. Bill and the Chief could see them coming. They were peeking out a camp window. Finally one (of the fishermen) got up enough courage to come up on the porch and knock hard on the door.
Hospitable Bill opened the door, and the biggest of the three said gruffly: "What's going on in here? Where's the woman?"
At that precise moment, Chief Needahbeh, who had gone into the back room, donned his great feathered head-dress and stripped to the waist, with smudges of lipstick all over his face, and waving his famous, huge war club, rushed into the room letting out war-whoops, yells and brandishing his big stick.
Two of those guys got down on their knees right then and there, and the other jumped a space of 10 feet clear, right through the screened-in porch. He hasn't been seen since.
Then and only then did the surviving members learn that the "murdered woman" was none other than the Chief, practicing the loon call for which he has become famous. He opens and closes the Sportsmen's Show with that call at each performance.
(Willard H. Davis, managing editor of the Hotel and Restaurant News, swears it's all true. Chief Needahbeh is the same Indian mentioned in the Townsman (in January, 1942) who went canoeing on Foster's Pond in the middle of January.)
"Andover Stories" is a weekly column about interesting local people and events, told in anticipation of the Andover Historical Society's 100 anniversary in 2011. Further research on the Chief, born Roland Eugene Nelson, shows that he was well-known in fly-fishing circles as developer of the streamer fly. He was a member of the Penobscot tribe and lived in Greenville, Maine where he ran a tackle shop. He was a fixture around sportsmen's shows in the 1930s-50s, an expert fisherman, and an entertaining speaker. And, yes, could whoop up a loon like no other!