BSA Wallet Contains Surprises

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

When I was a kid, my grandmother gave me a small cedar chest to hold my “special” things. Nothing in it had much value – it had lots of Boy Scout detritus, including my Boy Scout wallet, some Scout rings and bracelets, a carved Order of the Arrow, and lots of certificates for awards. 

Is that green sticking out?

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

I thought I had hit paydirt when I opened the wallet and saw a green bill sticking up. Note my address: Kingsway Dr. Rt. 2. Our mailing address for years was just Route 2 because we were outside the Cape city limits.

Looks like a folded five-dollar bill

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

Yep, sure is. I don’t recall having many of those at that age.

All that is green is not money

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

When I unfolded it, it was only half as wide as a regular bill, and this was on the backside.

Note that the address was Highway 61, not Kingshighway, and the Area Code was still 314.

Esicar’s alas, went on the auction block in 2011, briefly became The Butcher Block, and is now empty.

My Totin’ Chip

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

Barely visible through the glassine sleeve is my Totin’ Chip, which attested that I had read Chapter 15 in the Handbook for Boys, and that I knew that ownership of the woodsman’s tools means responsibility and that I accepted it.

“In consideration of the above, ” he is hereby granted “Totin’ Rights.”

To this day, I remember how to hand someone an axe, and to say “Thank You” to signify that I am accepting a cutting tool from someone.

The ink has pretty much faded, but I think Scoutmaster Ralph Fuhrmann signed the card.

A Western Union Telegram

Ken Steinhoff Boy Scout wallet 11-30-2021

Also folded up was a bit of yellow paper that turned out to be a Western Union telegram from my grandmother, Elsie Welch, who must have been visiting Miami.

It was dated the day before my birthday in 1950. I don’t recognize the handwriting, so it may have been an actual telegram received in Advance, Mo.

As years went by, hand delivery was phased out, and Western Union would simply call the recipient for permission just to read the message over the phone.

In the kinder, gentler years between wars, when the arrival of a telegram was unlikely to start out, “The War Department regrets….” I was known to send girls “thinking of you” telegrams to be delivered in school when I was out of town on debate trips, and the like.

I don’t remember sending Wife Lila a telegram, but I DID send her flowers when she was at a weeklong water safety camp in Eldon, Mo. It caused quite a stir when the flowers arrived, and I assume I earned serious Brownie points.

My namesake uncle was killed in Eldon

Eldon, ironically, was where my namesake uncle, Kenneth Welch was killed in a car vs. train crash in 1935.

The hospital where he was taken sent a $5 bill (that was paid in full).

 

 

 

Letters from Mother to Dad

I ran across some snippets of letter between Dad and Mother mixed in with business correspondence. 

My parents weren’t particularly demonstrative (maybe that’s where I got it), but they conveyed their closeness in shared moments and glances.

This series was part of a photo book I put together documenting Christmas 1969.

A letter from Mother

Based on the fact that it’s on Markham and Brown stationary, this must have been written shortly after they were married. I’m not sure if she sent it to Dad or to her parents.

“I wish everyone could be as happy as I am all my life. I had most everything I wanted and now I still have what I want. I don’t see how it can last forever. I am twice as happy as I ever expected…”

Mother buries the lead

Newspaper writers constructed their scribblings in what was called the “inverted pyramid” style, meaning that the most import elements were at the top, making it easy for an editor to trim from the bottom if space was tight.

If you put the important thing at the bottom, it was caused “burying the lead (spelled lede in journalistic jargon). Friend Jan says I’m bad about doing that.

Anyway, in this undated letter to Dad, Mother lists all kinds of mundane things she had taken care of, then, in her buried lede, she says, “Thank you for a nice day. So glad you made me a mother. Love MLS.”

Making memories

In 2012, I discovered this frame.

I wrote, “I don’t remember taking it, probably because the moment didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I often say that some days you make pictures; other days you make memories. This was one of those cases when I’m glad I made a photograph that lets me fill in a memory that I DIDN’T make at the time.”

That’s one of the shared moments I mentioned in the lede.

 

 

1963 BSA Wish List

The Boy Scout Catalogue of Official Uniforms and Equipment was probably the second-most thumbed-through “wish book” that arrived in the mail. The Sears catalog (I prefer that spelling) was in first place, if only because of the lingerie ads.

This 1963 spring and summer version had items that you could buy in Cape, Hayti, Sikeston, Poplar Bluff, Perryville, Dexter and Kennett.

I’m going through boxes of Scout material to get ready for a Scout Month exhibit at the Cape Girardeau County History Center in Jackson in February. If I donate all the stuff I have, there will be a lot more room in the house.

Official Scout paraphernalia

Thumb through this gallery of goodies. Click on any image to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

To be honest, a lot of these items were poorly-made junk that didn’t hold up, or that performed poorly. That didn’t keep us from buying them, though.

Shameless plug

Since we’re getting into the gift-giving seasons, you might consider a copy of my Smelterville:  A Community of Love book. I just received another 50 copies from the printer. You could also consider photos I turned into regional postcards.

Follow this link to find out where you can get your copies. They make a fine gift for folks who grew up in Cape before floods in 1973 and 1993 washed away the community. (PS. Ignore the mention of an edition. I stopped updating the number over the years. The ones in the link are the latest.)

Medical Records for Camp Lewallen

It was serendipitous that I ran across my old Boy Scout Medical records in the same week I got my Moderna booster shot. We had to have a physical exam before we could attend Boy Scout Camp Lewallen.

My 1963 exam, when I was 16, noted that all my immunizations were up to date, including a polio booster 6/11/63. It showed that I had measles and chicken pox in 1953. 

I was amused to see that I was trying to imitate Dad’s beautiful signature’s long crossed “T,” but was falling way short. I learned to curse cursive.

1963 Side Two

The back side of the form checked off all my shots, said my vision was OK with glasses, and made no restrictions on physical activity.

The doctor at camp said to check for athlete’s foot daily. I don’t recall it ever being done. Maybe there had been an outbreak that year.

1959 Exam

Dad loved green. His typewriter ribbon was green, and he was prone to use green fountain pen ink, like here on my 1959 form.

Curious Page 2 entries

You have to understand that my pediatrician was the scary Dr. Charles T. Herbert. He was, as I pointed out in an earlier post, the reason I can’t eat popsicles to this day.

When he said there was “no abnormality of the genitalia,” he must have learned that just walking into that white tiny office across from St. Francis Hospital would produce normal shrinkage akin to jumping into the Capaha Park pool on a cloudy, windy May morning.

A note to the camp examining physician said that the boys should be stripped, and throat, skin and genitalia should be inspected.

I was prepared to say that I didn’t recall that happening, but then it dawned on me that we would hump our gear up the steep lanes to our campsites, pick a tent, then dress in our swimming trunks to trek down to get the camp physical.

I’m pretty sure it just consisted of taking an inventory of all our appendages, eyes, ears and nose, so that number could be compared with a similar inventory at the end of the week. If the numbers matched, all was well.

Actually, when I went back to look at a post I did about Troop 14 checking into camp, the physical was more intensive than I had remembered.

On to the swim test 

After the cursory physical exam, we’d be herded to the swimming pool (or river in the early days) to buddy up for our swim test.

It’s amazing what you can find in random boxes and envelopes.

 

 

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