A CHILD OF THE DEPRESSION My World Through a Camera
Author spotlight on the book GLORIA and how an owl rescue, the photojournalist Gloria Rae Brodbeck Howell, and the game warden/coauthor Macy V. Butler came together.
By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
Macy V. Butler
Macy V. Butler has led a colorful and accomplished life. His achievements include game warden (in fact, the first African American game warden in Arkansas history), community activist, restaurateur, high school sports referee, grant writer and author. A nature lover at heart, Butler’s duties went beyond merely enforcing laws that prevented poaching and illegal wildlife catches. He looked out for the species he was protecting often rescuing them for eventual release back into the wild, and occasionally having to euthanize an injured animal.
In one instance, Butler noticed a nest with two owlets that seemed to be missing a mother. The game warden had enough experience to know that sometimes owls get tangled up in wire fencing when out seeking prey, and he suspected the worst. Because the nest was positioned in a precarious position along a cliff, retrieving the two owlets was dangerous business. Undeterred, Butler planned to scale the bluff and take the owlets to rescue services. Aware that his department was publicity conscious, he contacted the local news agencies before making the trek up the mountainside to save the young birds. Only one reporter showed up. Her name then was Gloria Bennett. She not only wrote a story about Butler saving the two distressed owlets but took a photo of him and the two birds that won her first place in the National Women’s Press Awards.
Years later Butler wrote a book about his time as a game warden titled Where did the Cotton Go? He had the photo from a news clipping and added it to the back of his book, unaware of the photographer’s identity or the accolades she won for the image.
Gloria Rae Brodbeck Howell
Gloria’s daughter saw the book’s back-cover photo and told her mother who then contacted Butler. The former game warden’s first thought when receiving the call was that the woman was going to sue him for using the image without permission. That was not the case at all; Gloria was quite pleased that he had used the picture, and invited him and his wife Gwendolyn to her home to see other pictures that she had from her career. The couple accepted her invitation and Butler was astonished by the treasure trove of photography. At that moment, he decided to write a book about Gloria Rae Brodbeck Howell and her work.
Gloria is a collection of the woman’s photography as well as a narrative of her career that includes many photojournalism awards both on state and national levels. The owl photograph may have been the catalyst for the eventual book, but it also helped create a friendship that has spanned decades.