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.

 

Librarians Vogelsang and Wilkening

Cape Central High librarians Mildred Vogelsang, left, and Bonnie Wilkening work on a stack of Plato’s The Republic.

In case you’ve forgotten, The Republic is a Socratic dialogue written around 380 BC concerning the definition of justice and the order and character of the just city-state and the just man. I’d like to tell you that I knew that off the top of my head, but that’s why Al Gore invented the Internet. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Who will take the pictures?

Both women signed my 1965 Girardot yearbook. I got a “Best Wishes” from Mrs. Wilkening, but Miss Vogelsang penned, “I shall miss you, Kenny. Who will take the pictures?”

The short answer to that question was the young whippersnapper who followed me: Richard Neal, Tom Hopen, Skip Stiver and Steve Trickey, but I thank her for asking.

A Google search for information about Bonnie Wilkening came up pretty dry. There was a Missourian Sept. 29, 1999, feature, a collection of “You’re from Swampeast Missouri if…” contest entries that included a Bonnie Wilkening contribution, “You update your white styrofoam dice hanging on the rear view mirror of your car to fluorescent orange.” I don’t know if it’s the same person.

Miss Vogelsang died in 1997

The Missourian’s Oct. 31, 1997, obit reported that Mildred Wilhemina Vogelsang, 87, a former teacher, librarian and historian, died Wednesday, Oct. 29, 1997, at Cape Girardeau Residential Care Center. She was born Feb. 7, 1910, in Cape Girardeau, daughter of Henry H. and Hermena Christine Geldmacher Vogelsang.

Vogelsang [This is a departure from the obituary style we followed in my day. We would have used Miss Vogelsang.] was a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, and received a master’s degree in library science from Vanderbilt University in 1946. She was a teacher in Cape Girardeau Public Schools from 1934-43, then was librarian at Central High School until 1972.

In 1953 she served as president of School Librarians of Southeast Missouri District when it was first organized. She worked on the curriculum committee in the State Department of Education to prepare a Guide for School Libraries. She served as the president of the Missouri Library Association in 1967.  Vogelsang served three terms as trustee of Cape Girardeau Public Library, had been librarian with Historical Association of Greater Cape Girardeau, and was an historian of Old Lorimier Cemetery. She was a member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church.

Survivors include a nephew, James Vogelsang of Cape Girardeau; and a niece, Jane Schueltz of Toledo, Ohio.

Other stories about Miss Vogelsang and libraries

The photo above was taken in Central Junior High School (our old Central)