Thursday, January 19, 2017

John Clevy, Carver of Totem Poles

The Daily Record September 27, 1978

Ancestry Prompts Unique Hobby The Daily Record September 27, 1978

A Bridgeport resident has a most unique hobby.  John Cl

evy, better known as Ike, has taken up the hobby of carving totem poles and other Indian relics. Clevy is track supervisor for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, by whom he has been employed for 38 years. He is from a family of railroad men, as his late father, John Clevy and two brothers, Charlie Clevy and Perry Clevy, retired from the B&O railroad.

He and his wife, Jane, moved to Bridgeport from Chauncey about three years ago and reside on Oak Street. It was soon after moving to Bridgeport that Clevy took up his old abandoned hobby.For several years, Clary was a drummer in his son’s band, but when he went on 24 hour call at his work for the B&O, he resumed his old hobby of making Indian relics and carving totem poles. One totem pole Clevy recently completed now adorns the front of his garage. It is 13 feet tall comprised of many colors and several carved characters. He also has several smaller totem poles in his home that are about 2 foot tall.

Clevy uses old utility poles to make his totem poles. Therefore the finished product should be well preserved against the weather elements. At present he is working on a large totem pole that will have cross pieces when completed. A larger cross piece is already finished for the big totem pole.


Clevy says the word totem originated in an Algonquian language spoken by certain Indian tribes in North America. The dictionary describes totem “as an object (as an animal or plant) serving as the emblem of a family or clan and often as a reminder of its ancestry;” and totem pole as “a pole that is carved with a series of totems and is erected before the houses of some Northwest American Indians.” His carving and mixing of paints come natural to Clevy because of his Indian ancestry.