First published: Fall 1998
More than ten years after her passing, controversy still reigns about the correct age of Clementine Hunter. At the time she was born, in poor, rural Louisiana, no birth certificates were issued. Tom Whitehead searched through early records of the rural churches and found a christening paper for Clement dated March, 1887. Thus the belief that she was 101 years old. But further searches revealed that fifteen certificates were recorded in the area for that same date! Perhaps a 'circuit rider' or itinerant priest visited this tiny rural church and christened all the recently born children at the same time. Accepting her word, she was 102 years old when she died on January 1 1988.
Many people found Clementine to be very reserved and shy, but this was only until she got to know and trust you. I doubt she ever remembered my name. She referred to me as the tall, bald-headed doctor but I was able to visit and joke with her for one or two hours each month when I visited her from the early 1960's until shortly before her 'passing'. Her wit and humour were still present as her body seemed to melt away.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #24