Saturday, June 4, 2016

Still Life with Robin: A Phone Message from the Past

Muhammad Ali in 1966 (via Creative Commons)
by Peggy Robin

Like nearly everyone on the planet, I was saddened to learn of the loss of Muhammad Ali. I never met him, but I once spoke to him on the phone. It was such a memorable conversation, I can recall every word of it, although it took place in 1967.

It was early evening. I was back in Atlanta, age 14—my family having recently moved away from there after ten years’ residence—and I staying with a couple who were old family friends, Charles and Camille Morgan. But they were out for the evening. Their phone rang and I answered it.

A man’s voice asked for Chuck Morgan, and I said, “He’s not here now. I can take a message for him.”

“Just tell him Muhammad Ali called.”

“Yes, certainly, Mr. Ali. I’ll tell him.”

That was it – the phone conversation in its entirety.

Muhammad Ali was calling because his legal troubles had just begun over his draft status during the Vietnam War. Charles Morgan was on his defense team. He was calling his lawyer. When the Morgans came home, I dutifully gave him the message.

Such a slight, fleeting connection to someone often called “the most famous man in the world,” but all the same, I’m glad to have the memory.


Still Life with Robin is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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