Saturday, February 6, 2010

100 Years Of Boy Scouts - 1

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.

1 comment:

Shan said...


Several years back I had an exchange student in one of my sign classes who was from New Zealand. The biggest shock to her since arriving was the reaction of her classmates when she asked for a rubber because she'd made a mistake.