So, y’all must be wonderin’ why I turned into one a dem God-damn, hippy-freak, tree-huggers. Well ha-yell, if ya don’t know why, jes maybe dats why you’re readin’ dis here blog. So I’ll tell ya. Jes kick back, put shor shoes up, and let’s toast to the Boy Scouts of America wit sompin cold. Cauz it probly’ all started way back when. (‘Huzzahh!’ murmered the WordPress computer. ‘Thanks for flying with . . . ‘ Ahhh, shuddup!
Larry and Gary Grant’s dad, our scout master, hefted my aluminum Sears and Roebuck backpack frame supporting a rather bloated pack and muttered, “Damn, Kip. What do you have in there, bar bells?”
Which was kind of funny, I guess, because I was just a skinny 14-year-old with little or no experience with bar bells. But thanks to our scout master and all the other parents who donated their time and energy to support Troop 465 (including my dad– thanks dad), we young men had gone on numerous trips into the wilds above Los Angeles and were just itching to ‘strut our stuff’ and show off all our skills at this Boy Scout Jamboree of 1963.
“No sir, Mr. Grant. Just some food,” I replied, as sweat rolled down my freckled face. (We naturally included a ‘sir’ or ‘ma-am’ with people we respected back then.)
“Well, you must be pretty hungry, Kip.” He smiled.
“It’s not just for me, Mr. Grant. It’s for them too,” I said, pointing over my shoulder to the four other scouts standing in line behind me.
“Well, why are you carrying all their food?” he whispered, looking around, nervously.
“Uhmm, some of them got here a little late and we didn’t have time to divvy up,” I replied, wiping sweat from my face.
Mr. Grant gave the other members of my scout pack a stern glare, then looked around to see if any other authority figures had observed our exchange. Lifting my pack again, he whispered, “Well, gee whiz, Kip. Just try to stay on your feet during the parade, OK?”
“Yes, sir,” I dutifully replied.
“And try to look like you’re having fun.”
Glancing around at the dozens of other scout troops in uniform wearing backpacks, some quite large, others rather skimpy, I grinned and said, “Oh, I am having fun. This is really cool.”
He smiled, patted me on the head, squashing down my scout hat I had arranged just so, and sauntered over to inspect his other scouts.
Troop 465 did pretty well during that Scout Jamboree, earning all kinds of awards. But I think this public display of scouting skills merely served to hammer home the laws we youngsters had been taught:
— Obey the Boy Scout Code
–Pack it in-pack it out
–Leave camp cleaner that you find it
–Lights out at 10:00 pm (this one needed a little work)
–Trees are living creatures and deserve our respect
At this point in my life 50 years later, I have a little trouble remembering the Boy Scout Code (I should probably Google it), but I developed a life-long respect for trees, thanks to my scouting experiences.
And that, my friends, is why I turned into one a’ dem Goddamn, muther-fuckin tree huggers. (Sorry for the language, Mr. Grant.)