The House in a Hole Is History

Back in 2014, Niece Laurie asked if I knew the story behind the “house in a hole” on Campster Drive just north of the Drury Inn. I had always wondered about it, too. so  went to my best source, Mother.

She knew the woman who lived there, Mrs. Earl Siemers, from church, but she didn’t think she’d talk with me.

I gave it a shot, but Mother was right, as I should have known. Mrs. Siemers would talk with me only if I promised it would be off the record. In the real world, I’d have honored the request, but then I would have done an end-run to find a source who WOULD tell me the whole story. You folks don’t pay me enough to go to all that trouble, so I left things vague.

I posted a photo of the house and an aerial map, and, true to form, my readers told me “the rest of the story.”

Click on the photos to make them larger, then use your back-arrow to go back to the story.

Laurie the Stalker

House in a Hole 11-18-20

Niece Laurie must be some kind of House in the Hole stalker because she tipped me in November that it looked like the house was going to be demolished.

It was almost sundown when I got around to checking it out, so the light wasn’t great. It did look like the white siding had been stripped off the building, so I figured its days were numbered.

What’s funny is that the photos I liked best were not of the house. I loved the trees, outbuilding and leaves in the late, Golden Hour light.

Dandelion and leaves

House in a Hole 11-18-20

I was impressed with the last dandelion of the season struggling to peek out from beneath the leaves.

The Things Left Behind

House in a Hole 11-18-20

I’ve always been a sucker for the things that are left behind when homes are abandoned. I raised the question, “What would you take?” to go with a blog post about an abandoned house in St. Mary.

I wondered how many flies that swatter had dispatched in its life.

Here was the naked house

House in a Hole 11-18-20

I didn’t spend much time shooting the house because the light was lousy, and the building wasn’t all that interesting in its naked state. (I bet that’s the first time I’ve written that.)

Soon nothing will be left but memories

House in a Hole demolition 12-22-2020

When I was running errands on Tuesday, I happened to look over the hill and saw that the yellow Cat had ripped out the trees I liked so much, knocked down the outbuilding, and crunched the house down to the basement.

If a few days, all that will be left will be memories, and those will fade, too.

Merit Badge Counselors

Merit Badge books c 1960sYesterday I ran a list of Boy Scout merit badges available in 1965, along with a gallery of merit badge books my brothers and I collected over the years. Today’s post will have a list of every counselor registered with the Shawnee district in 1971, and a little about the counselor’s role.

It’s interesting to read through the list of counselors. The men who volunteered for the job included some of the top in their field: names like Hal Lehman (Architecture), Jake Wells (Art), Weldon Hager (Athletics), Lawrence Bahn (Atomic Energy), John Seesing (Aviation), Bill Ewing (Music and Bugling), Fred Wilferth (Citizenship in the Nation and Scholarship), Ed Blummenberg (farming badges), Earl Siemers (Dairying), Dr. L.W. Hathaway (Dog Care and Pets), Tom Holshouser (Drafting), Milton Ueleke (Electricity and Electronics), Sheriff Ivan McClain (Fingerprinting),  Henry Ochs (Fruit and Nut Growing and Gardening), John Blue (Journalism), Dr. W.O. Seabaugh (Horsemanship), Claude Foeste (Landscape Architecture), Richard Flentge (Swimming and Lifesaving), Harry Siemer (Personal Finances), Dr. J.A. Kinder (Personal Fitness, Wildlife Management and Public Health), B.W. Birk (Plumbing), Bill Nowell (Photography), Clarence Suedekum (Salesmanship), James L. Garner (Sculpture), Larry Grisvard (Theater), and Calvin Brennan (Wood Carving).

What was a merit badge counselor?

1971 Merit badge counselors 01The counselor was an adult who had a specialized field of knowledge who could determine if a Scout had met all the requirements for a particular badge. The official rules make it clear.

You are expected to meet the requirements as they are stated—no more and no less. You must do exactly what is stated in the requirements. If it says “show or demonstrate,” that is what you must do. Just telling about it isn’t enough. The same thing holds true for such words as “make,” “list,” “in the field,” and “collect,” “identify,” and “label.”

Contacting a counselor could be scary

1971 Merit badge counselors 02The scariest – and, to me, most valuable part of the process – was when you had to screw up your courage to set up an appointment with someone who might be a prominent citizen in the community. When you got there, you were generally pleasantly surprised to meet someone who had a real interest in the topic you had picked, and was more than willing to share that knowledge.

That’s not to say that some counselors weren’t tougher than others. Dad wasn’t afraid to tell a boy that he needed to schedule another appointment because he didn’t meet the requirements. That, too, was an important lesson.

Mass production Eagles

1971 Merit badge counselors 03Troop 8, sponsored by the Trinity Lutheran Men’s Club, didn’t have many Eagle Scouts when I was in it. We looked up at those who had attained the rank with awe. Part of that was that we felt that it was a rank that was best achieved by an individual who was motivated to make those “scary” calls on his own.

There were some troops in the area that we perceived to be “mass-production Eagle factories” that brought in counselors and ran boys through the merit badge process in groups. Even as young boys, we could see the difference. Our perception might have been wrong, but our Eagles were numbered in the ones, and other troops had them by the tens.

Obligatory confession since a Scout Is Trustworthy: I never felt I deserved my Horsemanship merit badge that I earned at Camp Lewallen. I think everybody who signed up for the course and paid for the riding time passed it. I was about as good at riding a horse as I was at dancing. I read everything in the Horsemanship merit badge book, but the horse and I were never on the same page at the same time.

Times have changed

1971 Merit badge counselors 04I met with all my counselors on my own. Generally, my folks would drop me off, and I’d call them for a pickup when we were done. That’s not how it’s done today. The official policy:

You must have another person with you at each meeting with the merit badge counselor. This person can be another Scout, your parents or guardian, a brother or sister, a relative, or a friend.

The list of counselors

Here’s the rest of the list. Finding a counselor for Citizenship topics, Cooking, Electricity or Photography was pretty easy. I don’t know what you’d do if you wanted to earn Textiles, Skiing, Small Boat Sailing or Pottery. Click on any photo to make it big enough to read, then use your arrow keys to move around.