Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

Boy Scouts

Larry and David in Boy Scout uniformsLarry and David in Boy Scout Uniforms
(English Ford in the background)

In January David and joined Boy Scouts, Troup 376 which met at the church behind Littlewood school.  Mr. Tyree was the Scoutmaster who son was one older scouts in the troupe well on his way to making Eagle Scout.  Mom took usBoy Scout Handbook downtown to Woolworths department store which had a small section for Boy Scout clothes and equipment and outfitted with complete uniforms.  Shirt, shorts, belt, hat, knee high socks, weird elastic garter things with clips to hold up the socks, neckerchief, official Boy Scout neckerchief slide, everything except underwear which I don’t think they had.  There were a few other things, a Boy Scout Handbook for each of us, individual red numbers 3, 7, and 5 which Mom had to sew on the left sleeves of our shirts Be Preparedfor our troop number, Scout Moto pin “Be Prepared” worn on over the shirt pocket, Scout Badge pin, we were decked out, I don’t think I ever had a set of all new clothes before.  

Scouts met one evening each week during the school year.  Mom or Dad would drop David and I off at the church and then pick up afterwards as it would be too dark to walk home. It was a pretty good size troupe with twenty or so boys, many who I knew from the neighborhood or from school.  The meetings were mostly run by the senior scouts with help from the Scout Master and a couple of other men who were assistant scoutmasters.  There would be some general discussion about troop  events or upcoming camping trips, how to pack a backpack and so forth then we would break into patrols

Raven PatchMy Raven Patch

Each patrol had five or six boys around the same age and rank and ours was comprised of me, my brother and three other boys.  The first order of business of a new patrol was to decide on name and elect a patrol leader. We decided on “Raven” as our patrol name and I was elected as patrol leader.  The patrol name “Raven” was on the approved list of names that had patches and wasn’t [patch photo] being used by another patrol in the troop and required another trip to Woolworths to get Raven patches which Mom had to sew on the right sleeve of our shirts.  Meetings consisted of studying or practicing some subject to help advance in rank.  There are four ranks in Boy Scouts, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class and then Eagle Scout which few scouts made. Each rank required more advanced work and studies.  We had to learn the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout Motto, Scout Slogan.  Ok, Scout Oath, not so hard to learn a few sentences, although I wasn’t sure what “morally straight” meant.

Scout Oath

Scout Law was a bit harder for me, a list of words and what they meant to scouting.  It helped that at the start of each meeting we would repeat the scout oath and the scout law and after a few meetings I could recite the scout law with the words rolling off my tongue:

A scout is
And Reverent

Oh, wait, I forgot thrifty, and I would start again. We had to repeat the list to the Scout Master or one of the Assistant Scout Masters and they would initial it on the list in our book. [photo].  The Scout Moto, “Be Prepared” was easy and has served me my whole life.  The Scout Slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily” with the example of helping an old lady across the street a classic example.  The Scout Sign, Salute and Handclasp, no problem.

Tenderfoot requirementsThe hardest of all the tasks was learning knots. I’m not sure what knots had to do with life, but it was important to the Boy Scouts.  We had to learn the right knot to use for the right job. There was the Sheet Bend, Clove Hitch, Two Half Hitches, Square Knot, Taught-Line and the knot of all knots, the Bowline which I always had trouble with until a more senior scout taught Bowline Knotme the rabbit method, you make a hole with one rope making a small loop, then taking the end of the other rope, the rabbit, sticks its head up out of the hole, runs around the back of the tree, and then back down through the hole again.  By the end of the scout season, I had completed all the requirements and made Tenderfoot and had a meeting with Mr. Tyree, the Scout Master.  I was nervous, would I remember everything?  He asked me about the Scout Oath and what it meant, he asked me what good turns I had done recently to help others, my answers seem to satisfy him, and he signed off. I officially became a Tenderfoot Scout.

Larry and David at Boy Scout CampLarry and David still in uniform after arriving at Camp Echockotee

The last week of June David and I went to Boy Scout camp for the first time. Mom and Dad drove us to  Camp Echockotee which is about an hour and half drive from our house.  Upon arriving Mom and Dad checked us in and we were giving a map of the camp with our camping area marked on it and told our scout master would meet us there.  David and I headed out, down the marked path lugging our suitcases and after a short distance arrived at our troop site.  There were a half dozen troops at the camp that week scattered around in the woods of Camp Echockotee such that you couldn’t see other sites.  David and I enter our troop area find a bunch of tents arranged in a half circle.  Mr. Tyree, our scout master saw us, called us over and assigned us a tent.  The tents looked like the ones I had seen in movies about the civil war, made of canvas with a wooden floor and two cots.  A little rough but we didn’t mind.  David and I settled in, changing out of our clean scout uniforms into shorts and T-shirts to keep our uniforms clean for more formal events scheduled later in the week.  Camp Echockotte 1965 patchMr. Tyree had given us overview and a printed schedule of each day, Tentstarting with breakfast, morning activity, lunch, afternoon activity, dinner, and, on some days campfire gatherings in the evening.  Some activities were required like taking the swimming test the next morning which was important if you wanted to do use the pool or do water activities at the lake.  There was a long list of activities to choose from but with over a hundred boys there, you had to sign up ahead of time for them.  Others, like open pool time you could just show up at. 

There was a list of activities to choose from, most were designed to meet advancement or merit badge requirements.  There was woodworking, archery, canoeing, rope making, basketry, leather working, hiking, riflery for the older boys, and many more.  Since I had just became a Tenderfoot, my main focus was on the Second Class requirements so did activities such as map & compass and first aid completing a number of them that week.  David and I showed up at our assigned time the next day to take the swimming test and we both passed, all those hours in the pool at Grandpa Junior’s paid off. The meals were served in a big mess hall with each troop having an assigned time for meals.  Breakfast was usually cereal or oatmeal, lunch was sandwiches and a pretty good dinner, but we were always hungry from all the activities of the day.  On the table every at meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, was a big can of army surplus peanut butter which we could eat as much as we liked but after a couple of days soon got tired of it. After each meal two boys were assigned on a rotating basis for cleanup of the table.  The only exception to the meal routine was that one night during the week was cook at camp night.  A group of boys were sent to the kitchen in the late afternoon bringing back hamburgers and hotdogs along with all the fixings to cook at camp.  A couple of the boys made a fire and others did the grilling, both requirements for advancement.

One activity I enjoyed was the woodworking shop which for 50 cents you could make a wooden bowl on the lathe.  I watched several bowls made by other boys and thought it was really cool how you could take a square piece of wood, put it on the spinning lathe and using a chisel, turn it into a round bowl. Having brought a few dollars with me since it was on the list of things to bring, I paid the 50 cents and made a small bowl. 

Midweek Mr. Tyree said all the boys should write letters to someone at home.  I wrote two letters, one to Mom and Dad another to Brenda, Beth, and Grandma Mixson.

Larry's Letter

Larry's Letter to Brenda, Beth and Grandma

One of the most memorable events was the Critter Crawl which was announced to be held later in the week.  Boys would have a few days to find some critter which would then be put into a circle drawn on the ground and the first critter out of the circle winning.  A couple of days before the event David spotted in a red throated skink in the wood pile next to the woodworking shop. Skinks are very fast critters perfect for the race, Red throated skinkbut also making them hard to catch.  David was patient, having no place to keep it, he waited to an hour before the race to go to the woodpile and caught the skink, it was a monster at almost eight inches long.  The time of the race came and there were several entries, a box turtle, several frogs and toads, even a spider, then David brought out his prize, the skink. Everyone wooed and wowed, then it was time for the race.  The circle was about ten feet in diameter with a smaller two foot circle in the center.  Each boy with a critter stepped into the circle and on the count, dropped their critter into the center circle and stepped away. At first all the critters just sat there, the box turtle all closed up, the frogs and toads just sitting there along with David’s skink. The boys yelled.  Then we started to see some action, a toad took a hop, then another, a frog took a leap, the box turtle, well it was still boxed up, then David’s skink raised its head, looked around and in two seconds flat ran out of the circle, leaving the other critters in the dust, winning the event.  It was one for the history books of critter crawls.  .  So what happened to the skink?  When it ran to the edge of the circle it ran directly to David who caught it and after the event, he returned it to the woodpile where he originally caught it.

Updated: 05-29-2023

Boy's Life