Joining the Boy Scouts was a big benefit of becoming twelve years of age. It was a thrill to wear a Boy Scout uniform as a Tenderfoot Scout, together with Sandford and Sam, and to be a member of a Patrol and a Troop. Having a subscription to BOY’S LIFE magazine whetted my appetite for reading and stimulated my mind in positive thinking. Mr. Duer was our Scoutmaster and Otho (Tubby) Randolph was Assistant Scoutmaster. They were excellent leaders and made Scouting an adventure for all of us.
As an engineer for the Cabot Gas Company, Mr. Duer gave the Scouts in our Troop and opportunity to earn some money. A furnace at the gas plant had been torn down and we could earn two cents a brick by cleaning and stacking them. A hand axe was the best tool for knocking off the mortar. I worked with enthusiasm the first day of the project but, alas, woke up the next morning with the mumps. My check from the Cabot Gas Company for more than two dollars was a thrill to receive.
Once, inspired as scouts, Sam Swiger and I hiked to a hillside at the head of Buckeye. Carrying our bedrolls and a box of ginger cookies from Swiger’s store, we planned to sleep overnight under an overhanging rock. The adventure was ill fated. Sleep was impossible on the rough ground and when it began to rain we dragged our bedrolls with us to the foot of the hill and across the road to Sam’s grandparents home. When Grandma Swiger came to the door in her night gown and saw us she exclaimed, “What are you boys doing? Running away from home?”
A short camping trip our Troop took to the swimming hole at the east end of Four Mile tunnel is memorable. To reach the campsite we walked through the dark tunnel carrying our equipment and gear. I panicked in the tunnel and stumbled and ran to the end in great fear. When we set up the camp one bedroll was missing–the one I had started through the tunnel with. The bedroll was retrieved from the ditch in the tunnel causing me deep embarrassment. The bedroll was a mess, as you would suspect. From that camp I remember that a Scout named Langfitt brought some limburger cheese. The smell was horrendous so another Scout snatched the cheese and threw it away. Skinny dipping in the tiny swimming hole was the highlight of that camp.
I joined several members of our Troop for a week at the Boy Scout Council camp on the Monongahela River near Clarksburg. The camp director was Chief Heymeyer, Council Executive. I still see the Chief in my mind’s eye, floating high in the water of the river with his hands crossed over his stomach during our swim period. Military drilling was part of the camp program. One or more Scouts fainted in the hot sun during the drills. Each Scout brought his own food for the week. The standard diet was canned beans and salmon. Today’s Scouting officials would call that camp a disaster.
Though I only achieved the second class rank during my early Scouting experience, memories of those days are happy and rewarding. In my mature years, Scouting has been a major avenue of service for me. I am especially proud to have received Scouting’s Silver Beaver award.
Pastor George B. Shaw instructed and baptized Sandford, Sam and me in the Salem Seventh Day Baptist Church. Sandford and I took a wonderful hike up Patterson Fork with Pastor Shaw. As we sat quietly in a wood he alerted us to the singing of a Wood Thrush. We were blessed with so great a spiritual leader.
College professor H. 0. Burdick taught us a lasting lesson in discipline and self control as our Sabbath School teacher. Our class met in the furnace room of the church with a window to the outside that was often open. One Sabbath the window dropped on H. O’s hand. Obviously in pain, he grasped his hand and slowly counted to ten. The impression this left on that Sabbath School class of boys was probably as important as the formal material he gave US.