Every family has stories that may or may not be true. Dad often told a story about pulling his toy wagon full of sheet music for the woman who accompanied the silent movies at the Broadway theater.
We all dismissed that as his version of walking 12 miles to school in waist-deep snow (uphill both ways.)
Eventually, Mother sent me the obit of the woman who HAD played music at the silent movies. I guess he wasn’t just funnin’ us with his tale.
Dad and the basement boat
I don’t ever recall Dad mention the boat he built in the basement at Themis Street before discovering he couldn’t get it through the door. That strikes me as a story no man would tell on himself.
I was never able to determine if the tale was true, and all the folks I could ask are no long with us.
Then, I ran across a couple of Missourian classified ads from 1944. The one at the top of the page was to sell a new, 12-foot row boat; table top model radio, $25; electric jig saw, $10; and one 4 and one 6 cylinder magneto.
Maybe he HAD gotten the boat out of the basement, and maybe that’s why he was also able to sell the jig saw.
Bicycles for sale
About the same time, he was trying to sell two pre-war bicycles, like new. (And the boat.)
Mother with bikes
Decades later, she still talked about how their legs cramped up from the 36-mile ride.
The first year I started serious biking, I did the 72-mile round trip in their memory. I had quite a bit of long-distance cycling under my saddle by then – including at least one 100-mile day, so I fared better than they did.
Another bike photo
Here’s Dad on a bike. Mother’s dad, Roy Welch, is looking through the screen door in the background.
I think that Advance ride dampened their enthusiasm for long two-wheeled expeditions.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Central High School’s Bill East, Class of 1966, died May 24, 2012, and was the subject of a moving obituary mostly written by his buddy, Terry Hopkins. It was fate that caused me to run across a 4×5 negative of Bill almost on the anniversary of his passing.
I got to looking closer at Bill’s uniform, and some things popped out. First, I think this must of been a recycled shirt, because there’s a dark circle on the pocket on the left. We’ll talk about what that might have been later.
Badge of rank
He sports a Star badge, which was the rank above Second and First Classes, and below Life and Eagle. He has two service stars above his pocket, but I couldn’t see whether he had been in for two years, or if the stars had numbers in them.
His handmade neckerchief slide says, “Preparing to Aid Camporee 1963. It was just big enough to hold a dime for a phone call and, maybe, a bandage. His neckerchief is tightly rolled; I usually wore mine bloused out and tied in a knot at the bottom like his is.
I’m not sure what the boot patch with “59” on it signified.
I have a large box of Scout uniforms, including Mother’s den mother uniform. These two were still hanging in a closet, so they were fairly presentable.
This one belonged to one of my brothers. It sports a round Camp Lewellen patch which is probably what was missing from Bill’s shirt. The wearer had been to the camp at least three years.
J.L.T. stands for Junior Leader Training, which is interesting. When Bill Hardwick, Martin Dubs and I went to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1962, we were there for J.L.I.T. (Junior Leader Instructor Training). It was explained that we were junior leaders already, but our reason for being at the ranch was to learn how to teach OTHER Scouts how to be leaders.
The colorful patch on the pocket flap indicated that the wearer was a member of Order of the Arrow Anpetu-We Lodge 100. The senior patch indicated that one of my brothers was approaching Boy Scout old fartdom.
Mark and David were members of Trinity Lutheran School’s Troop 8 in Cape Girardeau. Older boys could become instructors and Junior Assistant Scoutmasters.
Both brothers earned the Eagle rank. I only made it to Life. To become an Eagle in those days, you had to earn 21 merit badges, including some in specific categories.
I had more than enough badges, but I tended to go after ones that interested me instead of required ones. My path to Eagle status was sidetracked when I got involved with photography and girls.
Dad was an active Scouter
By the time I left Cape for Ohio, Dad was winding up his business, which gave him more time to get involved in Scouting with my brothers.
His uniform showed he was a member of the troop committee, and a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s national honor society. He, David and Mark were Vigils, “the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors. ”
Dad was awarded the Silver Beaver
Dad was awarded the Silver Beaver, which is described as “the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Upon nomination by their local Scout council and with the approval of the National Court of Honor, recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council. The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not seek it.”
He was so proud of his Vigil honor and Silver Beaver that we had it carved on his tombstone.
It was the custom to collect patches from hikes, camporees and activities that weren’t worn on the uniform. Again, I’m not sure which brother these belong to.