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.



Camp Lewallen Swim Tag

Ken Steinhoff BSA swim tag c 1963I was rummaging around in the attic this afternoon looking for something and ran across a box that hadn’t been opened in years. Some of the findings will show up later, but we’ll start with this object.

Anybody who went to Boy Scout Camp Lewallen will recognize it as the tag you were assigned after you had taken a swim check to determine your ability. Before you could get into the water, you had to pair up with a buddy and move your tags from one side of the “buddy board” to the other. In addition, you had to stay within an arms-length of each other at all times. If the lifeguards blew their whistles for a “buddy check” you had to grab hands and hold them in the air so they could see if anyone was missing.

If I remember correctly, non-swimmers got tags that were plain, like this one; beginners had the top half filled in with red, and swimmers had red at the top and blue at the bottom.

Here’s a good piece on Boy Scout swim tests and how traumatic they were if they weren’t handled properly.

I wasn’t big on swimming

BSA 1963 Camp LewellenI clearly remember taking swimming lessons at the Capaha Pool when I was about 10. I knew from the moment that my skin touched that early June pool water that this boy was not cut out for any sport that requires you to crack the ice before you can participate in it. When I jumped into the pool, I ran across the surface of the water as long as I could, but eventually the laws of physics won. Shrinkages happened that I’m not sure have been reversed to this day.

Before the pool was built at Camp Lewallen, we swam in the St. Francis River. Surprisingly enough, maybe because the water was warm by mid-summer, I learned to swim there fairly quickly. A couple of summers later, I earned the Canoeing merit badge there. I was old enough that the counselors would let us check out the canoes to go fishing or exploring up and down the river. That was one of my favorite summers.

After the pool was built, I set as my summer goal winning my Mile Swim patch. When I got home from camp, Dad was a little perturbed that I hadn’t earned any merit badges. I told him that the Mile Swim meant more to me than any merit badge. It represented an achievement that not everybody could reach. It was sort of like the first time I rode a Century (100 miles in one day) on my bike. I wasn’t fast, but I finished.

I don’t know who the counselor is on the left, but the boy in the back on the right is Tom Mueller. The other boy might be Mike Fiehler.

I regret to inform you

Matt Lila Adam Steinhoff 08-01-2010_7241Wife Lila and Sons Matt and Adam participated in a family triathlon in 2010. When I wrote a post about it, I recounted the tale of her shepherding a bunch of Boy Scouts qualifying for their Mile Swim badge.

She was in the water with the Scouts at the Sebastian Inlet down here in Florida when all of a sudden, this huge, dark object rolled over right in their path. She said could just see herself writing a packet of “I regret to inform you that your son was eaten by an alligator while in my charge” letters.

Fortunately, the large object turned out to be a harmless manatee, and all the boys completed their mile.


Throne of Contemplation

Outhouse near Racine OH 08-31-2014I really pulled over to shoot a picture of an old schoolhouse outside Racine, Ohio, but I couldn’t stop myself from taking a couple frames of an old outhouse. I guess the chair is where you could wait until the current occupant of the reading library is finished. (Click on it to make it larger.)

The occupant of the waiting room chair would have an excellent view of the Ohio River and the Racine Locks and Dam.

Cherry bombs and outhouses don’t mix

I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed using the outdoor facilities, but I got where the latrines at Camp Lewallen didn’t bother me. They had a certain “earthy” aroma that wasn’t really offensive if you acquired the right attitude.

I DO remember when an unnamed member of Troop 8 thought it would be fun to throw a contraband cherry bomb firecracker down the chute before one of his fellow Scouts sat down. There was no explosion, so the miscreant waited until his target left, then he lifted the seat to see what happened. Evidently, the cherry bomb had a slow fuse. It went off with an impressive noise and coated the prankster with the aforementioned “earthy” aroma and more.

The red-roofed school

School - Racine OH 08-31-2014_7679Looks like the old school has long ceased being used, but there’s no trouble spotting it from a distance.