It's a big anniversary for the Boy Scouts organization. I had a blast when I was in the Scouts forty some years ago. Here's the story of when I joined.
I was about three months away from turning 12 years old and I was joining the Boy Scout troop on Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas. I had my brand new Boy Scout manual and I was memorizing everything in preparation for my induction. Taking a break from my studies, I thumbed through the book to preview all the really neat stuff I anticipated I'd be doing. And then I stumbled across a list of everything I needed to go camping. I'm reading through it imagining all the fun I was going to have with all this stuff: knife, hatchet, axe, text, sleeping bag, mess kit, poncho, rubbers--Rubbers! Rubbers?
My mind raced. What could I possibly--? What do I--? Is there something I haven't heard--? The thoughts flowed like water through a busted dam. Hmmmm. I needed to ask my Dad for some clarification, but I had to be careful. As a no-nonsense disciplinarian, he was likely to react angrily to this if he thought I had the wrong idea.
So I walked up with the book open and asked, "Dad, do I need everything on this list to go camping in the Boy Scouts?"
He looked the list over and answered, "Yes," and returned to his crossword puzzle.
I walked back to my room confused and excited. Was there something about the Girl Scouts I hadn't heard? Was this a big secret that I'd learn more about once I was officially in the scouts? How come I hadn't heard anything about this before? They must keep their secrets really well.
My adolescent brain was churning. But I had to make sure. So I went back to my dad and asked, "Dad, are you sure I need everything on this list?"
"Yes," he answered with hardly a glance.
Still excited but not completely convinced I returned to my room and pondered this some more. Maybe--. But, no--. They couldn't--. I still had my doubts, but being 11 I had to find out for sure. I went back to my dad and asked, "Dad, what are the rubbers for?"
"To keep your feet dry," he said offhandedly.
Feet? Now I was confused. The picture in my mind made no sense. Rubbers on your feet? So I bravely ventured forth. "What do you mean to keep my feet dry?"
"In case it rains," he says. But this time he looks at me. I stand there with a confused look on my face when suddenly his face transforms. It was a look that combined fear, shock, amazement and alarm. The realization of what I was thinking caught him way off guard.
"They're galoshes, you dummy!" he bellowed. And he returned to his crossword which was now less of a puzzle to him than I was. To my great relief he didn't pursue the matter in the manner I had initially feared. But I knew he knew. And he knew I knew.
Very disappointed and a lot less confused, I returned to my room and memorized some more.
Newport, Rhode Island
1 day ago