Naming the Unknowns, September 30, 2015

This week’s unknowns come from the Collection of Roman Reese.  We have several unknowns here, so this is just the latest!  Unfortunately, while we have completed the Staff Hat Project, these staff members aren’t wearing staff hats!  And, we don’t recognize the shirts.

All this to say, our best guess is that this photo is from 2000.  It is also Stahlman staff.  Beyond that, we don’t have too much else to give you.  As always, insight is appreciated!

Unknowns, Stahlman 2000

Two unknown Stahlman Staff members, ca. 2000. Collection of Roman Reese.

From the Archives, September 27, 2015

Boxwell Greats: Jerry Barnett

One of the great towering legends of Old Hickory Boxwell is Jerry Barnett. For several generations of Parnell-Craig staff, Barnett WAS Boxwell. Along with Tom Willhite and Ernie Ragsdale, Barnett was a driving force in the “Silver Age” of Boxwell, better known as the 1980s and early 1990s.

Barnett began his run on Boxwell staff at Stahlman in 1964 in the Activity Yard as a Program Aide, the 1960s equivalent of the modern CIT (counselor in Training). About halfway through his second year in 1965, he became the Kitchen Director at Stahlman, a position to which he returned to in 1966. Barnett then left Boxwell for a few years to serve in the US incursions in Vietnam. After completing his tours in Vietnam, Barnett returned to Stahlman in 1970, again serving as Kitchen Director under the Schleichers. This run continued until 1971 when Barnett became part of the short-lived Commissioner System. Barnett left Boxwell for several years, serving on the Tennessee Highway Patrol, but returned in 1980 as Activity Yard Director at Parnell under Perry Bruce as Program Director.

It was in 1981 though that the Barnett legend was born. From 1981 to 1992, Barnett began a long, stable run as Program Director at Parnell-Craig. He took a year off in 1986 for alcohol rehab, but overall had a long sustained run at Boxwell as Program Director.

Barnett’s years were ones of stable, quality program. He emphasized uniform, appearance, and the good of the group. His primary focus was always program. Indeed, he often spoke of “what was good for the program,” convincing young staff members to do work they never would have considered, but were guilted into for the good of the group. In later years, he would say he had a socialist-like “Five Year Plan” for each of his two five year runs as Program Director. But at the end of the day, Barnett always saw himself as a teacher. He wanted to impart knowledge, skills, or experience to whomever would listen.

Stories about Barnett are legion and legendary. Barnett could be erratic, often exploding into a rage. His staff called these “Barnett Panics,” or BP’s. But at the same time, he could be a father figure. Parnell-Craig staff often referred to themselves as “Jerry’s Kids,” a reference to Jerry Lewis’s Muscular Dystrophy telethon, but also a more personal reference to the influence of Barnett on their lives. Talk to a staff member who worked for Barnett in the 1980s and he will likely tell you Barnett was either the father they never had or was like a second father to them. He cared for his staff and they cared for him.

Indeed, perhaps one of his most powerful and memorable legacies came at the end of camp. Every year, Barnett gave a speech to his staff. He told them the “circle was broken. This staff, this group, will never be together again.” In short, Barnett instilled a feeling a family amongst those who worked for him.

Barnett left Boxwell Camp Staff after the summer of 1992. His departure was abrupt and unexpected and for many years, those who had worked for him wondered what happened. Barnett is alive and well and occasionally comes back to Boxwell, bending the ear of any of who will listen of years gone by and still trying to teach a new generation.

Jerry Barnett

In typical Barnett fashion, here Jerry Barnett lectures to a group of Scouts at the Parnell Dining Hall.

Naming the Unknowns, September 22, 2015

How about a little levity this week?

This week’s unknown comes from the collection of “Big John” Kasper. This is pool photo from 2006. We know that is Anna Hartzhiem on the left and most likely Meagan Kasper in the background. Who’s the guy? Equally important, why is he having a swim top painted on him while he holds a kabob?

Unknown pool

An amusing painted man at the Boxwell Pool, 2006.

From the Archives, September 20, 2015

Critter Crawl, ca. 1970

The photo this week shows the first stage of a now long dead tradition at Boxwell: the Critter Crawl. Defunct since the mid-1990s, the Critter Crawl was a staple of life at Boxwell. Naturally, young boys capture insects and animals through their week at camp. Sometimes grasshoppers or crickets; sometimes snakes, turtles, or frogs.

Enter the Critter Crawl. Scouts would bring their captured “critters” to a large white ring painted on the pavement at their respective camps. The critters were placed in the middle of the circle and at the appropriate moment, they were released. Whichever “critter” was the first to pass the edge of the ring was the winner.

Of course, there were issues. Sometimes a critter just wouldn’t participate. Sometimes the critter just flew away. Other times one critter was eaten by another critter. This was all part of the joy of the Crawl–you just never knew what was going to happen.

We believe the staff member crouching over the box in the center is Bill Baber, making this Crawl one at Parnell, likely around 1970. If 1970, chances are good the photo was originally taken by Chris “Kit” Eckert, the Reservation photographer. We don’t know for sure, but these are our best guesses for this classic Critter Crawl photo.

Critter Crawl

A Critter Crawl at Boxwell, likely Camp Parnell, 1970.

Naming the Unknowns, September 15, 2015

This week’s Naming the Unknowns is a nice combination of the familiar and the unfamiliar.  The photo is from Parnell and judging by the staff hats, 1972, though it was originally labeled 1976.  In the center are Eddie Stephens and, wearing sunglasses no less, is Steve Eubank, Parnell’s Program Director.

Who are the other two people?  Who took the photo?

Parnell, 1972

Though mislabeled in our archive, this photo from 1972 has four Parnell Staff members. The middle two are Eddie Stephens and Steve Eubank.