From the Archive this week is none other that Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce. “Q-ball” is unknown to most modern staff members, unless they have seen the Q-ball plaque at the Stahlman Trading Post. Nevertheless, Q-ball is a figure that looms large in Boxwell history.
Q-ball worked at “old Boxwell”–the Rock Island Boxwell–where he became fast friends with Ward Akers, the Council Executive who led the camp from Rock Island to the extensive reservation we know as the Old Hickory location. Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce was at Old Hickory Boxwell by the mid-1960s, working as the Handicraft Director at Stahlman. He continued in this position until 1984, when he felt he was too old to return. That first year he didn’t return, 1985, he sent a tape recording to the staff, updating them on his health and how he was doing.
It is almost impossible to explain Q-ball. He was involved in the OA and an enormous believer in Scouting and its principles. Every summer he came from Clarenden, Arkansas to Boxwell. He brought not only himself, but his footlocker full of woodworking and leatherworking tools. He was both humorous and full of anecdotes, and irascible and set in his ways.
Perhaps one of the greatest stories about Q-ball comes from Web Webster. Web worked for Q-ball in the Stahlman Handicraft before becoming director in his own right. When confronted with John Norwood’s break dancing–a 1980s phenomenon–Web explains Q-ball’s response this way: “Q-ball said, and Q-ball was a man of few words and he never cursed, so when he did it was to extremely good effect… when Q-ball did choose to pepper up the dialogue it was extremely effective; it hit you. John was dancing and Q-ball was going up and Q-ball said in that way that he does and if you listen to else on the [recording] the way that his voice sounds on the [recording] is the way I remember him sounding if you can picture that. So I wont try to do an imitation of that way his voice sounded, but I will sort of do. Q-ball would sort of look back at ya and would sort of squint his eyes through these metal, metal frame glasses that he had. And he sort of shift his jaws around and recede his teeth. “Say boy, what’s that there your doing?” and John would say, “I’m dancing Q-ball. Can’t you see I’m dancing.” “Oh, you are are ya? Boy that’s not dancing, that’s dry humping.” He didn’t use the word “humping.”
The nickname “Q-ball” came from his bald head. Q-ball explains that while working at Kia Kima, he attended a campfire. He sat down on a rock seat and, lo and behold, wasps started crawling up his pants legs. He jumped up and quickly removed his pants. The Waterfront Director, for whatever reason, thought these antics were mocking him and he got mad. He began using the sobquiet “Q-ball”, after a cue ball, and the name stuck and followed Floyd all the way to Boxwell, both at Rock Island and Old Hickory.
Q-ball died in 1988. Close friends–staff members, his brother and his wife–were with right up to the end. Q-ball was unique in that he spanned generations. Not just generations at Old Hickory Boxwell, but generations of Scouting. In 1968, he was recognized for 55 years in Scouting. By 1988, when he died, he had been involved in Scouting for almost 75 years, almost from Scouting’s very start. Today, all that is left of Q-ball’s legacy is a plaque at the Stahlman Trading Post put up by “renegade” former staff members and friends.