From the Archives, February 28, 2018

Camp Anedotes: The Spam Run
By Eric Cole

[This story is edited from a 1998 recording.]

Either the first or second week, staff night out [1989]. Now, you know, I started late at camp, so that first year, I was 17, so that was the only year that I just went out on Tuesday nights or couldn’t drive myself. And so, it was the first time I’d ever gone out. Well, we did a Spam hunt.

Now, I don’t think another one’s ever been since then. At least, not that I’ve known about. I guess you know how it goes, but in case you don’t, I’ll tell you.

Of course, I’m from Gallatin, which is right across the river, so I was pretty much in my home town, you know, at camp. Well, we’d gone into Gallatin on our way to Rivergate. Now, this was before the by-pass was built, of course, so you had to go down, and cut through and kind of come out on the main road there. You went down pass the Wal-Mart and the Rivergate and that stuff. Well, not the Rivergate, but Kroger and all that stuff.

Well, we did a Spam hunt in Kroger. Now what we did was, we’re all, you know, this big pile of people, we’re all come in. Of course, people notice a bunch of teenage guys comin’ in, first off. And, so we start, far right side of the store. And we just walkin’ through. Kind of like creepin’ through the store. And we’re going “Spam, spam, spam.” And we just walk like that, just walk like that, all through the store, up and down each aisle. And the more we walked, the louder we get. You know, “spam. Spam. SPAM. SPAM.” You know, we’d just keep going, keep going, until we finally find the Spam. Then, we find the Spam, it was like “Yeah, we found the Spam. Spam, yeah! Spam! SPAM! SPAM! SPAM!” Okay? So, big great thing.

‘Course by this time, you know, by the time we’d got to the Spam, there’s people all over the store going “What the heck? What is going on?” You know, some people laughed, some people kind of scared. You know, maybe we were a gang or something.

So, we get the Spam and we all go rushing up to the cash register, you know. Just a can of spam. So, you get there, you’re finally in line. And they ring it up. Now, you know, I don’t talk this way or whatever, but I’ll use the words that were used, but I didn’t say it. But, they get to the cash register and they ring it up and they tell ’em how much it is. And then all, everybody looks at each other like “Too Damn Much! Too Damn Much!” And then they go runnin’ out of the, just leave the Spam can there, and go runnin’ out, take off.

So, anyway, it was really funny. But, you know, halfway through the chanting of “Spam” I was like “I can’t do this with these guys. I said I’m going go see somebody I know in here.” You know, “Just in case we get in trouble, I don’t want to get in trouble with them, you know.” Cause it’s my home town. SO, I had liked pulled off the side and actually seen somebody I knew. And, so the whole time after the found the Spam and went to the cash register, I wasn’t with them. SO, I kind of, like, met them outside. That was really funny. Funny thing to do.

From the Archives, February 27, 2018

by Russell Parham

In 1971, I started my second year on the camp staff, assigned to Camp Murrey. After spending my first year washing pots and pans under the ‘guidance’ of Jerry Barnett who was the Stahlman kitchen director in 1970, I felt I deserved a break. I will wait for another opportunity to provide an expose on Mr. Charles Jerry Barnett.

In many ways, being assigned to Murrey was Club Med. Back then there were four staff members assigned to clean the kitchen plus a few other odd jobs. Camp Murrey was for the exclusive use of the families of the Scoutmasters who were with their troops in Stahlman or Parnell. In 1971 Johnny Smith, Greg Hughes, John Butler and myself set up our two 4 man tent staff site on the west side of the dining hall, out of sight of most of the other adults who resided in ‘the hole’. Johnny’s dad was an electrician so we had an ample supply of electrical outlets, plus lights and fans to plug into these outlets. And camp was good.

As with most groups, after awhile we started to grate on each other’s nerves. In addition to our 4 man tents, we each acquired one of the red metal chest-of-drawers that I am sure were screened from Fort Campbell. One week I noticed a rather strong odor in the drawer with my socks and underwear. After several days, the odor was so strong I decided to investigate the source. I eventually picked up a pair of socks and found a dead mouse stuffed inside. I immediately knew that the culprit was Greg Hughes, so after flipping his bed out the tent, with him in it of course, I proceeded to take a pad lock and affix it to his closed glasses. I did not think much more about this until several days later when I decided to call home. Well, I sure was glad I happened to call home instead of waiting till the weekend to talk to my parents. My mom let me know in no uncertain terms that I was to proceed immediately and remove the pad lock. (It seems that Greg just started wearing contact lens and should have worn his glasses at night – how was I suppose to know that!).

That was not my only adventure with Greg. On one fine afternoon, he was taking a much undeserved siesta. The fire extinguisher of choice in those days was the large tank of carbon dioxide. I proceeded to ‘borrow’ this fire extinguisher and inserted the funnel between the flaps of the tent near Greg’s bed. Since I could not see Greg, I pushed the funnel in to where I thought would be about a foot from his head. When I pressed the handle, all I heard was a loud scream and a big thump. My cohort in crime, Johnny Smith, later told me that I actually had the funnel directly beside Greg’s head. After Greg ‘returned to earth’ from his launch, I am sure he chased me around camp and most assuredly flipped my bed. I also learned that it pays to be on good terms with the ranger, since I believe that Bobby Smith fixed our ‘leaking’ fire extinguisher.

Since one of our tasks was to provide activities for the visiting families, the staff at Murrey believed that we deserved the use of a canoe. I never could understand why Richard Cannon, the Stahlman Waterfront Director, got so irritated when we would ‘borrow’ one his canoes late at night. Gosh, no one was using it and we were going to return it at the end of camp! For a while, it became a big challenge for us to ‘acquire’ a canoe, hide it so the Stahlman Waterfront could not find it and still use it during the day. Of course, it did not take long before the word came down from Mr. Ed Human, the Reservation Director, that Camp Murrey did not need a canoe.

There have always been big fish stories at camp, but I don’t recall any that top this one. One weekend, Johnny Smith and myself decided to stay at camp. During Saturday afternoon we were swimming in the Murrey waterfront area when one of the local boys drove by in his raft affixed with an outboard motor. After disturbing our peace and quiet by throwing wakes our way, he drove off. Shortly he returned and asked us if we wanted a fish. Not knowing any better we said yes, and he proceeded to throw out a 32 pound spoonbill catfish, which he had run over with his propeller. Well, we saw an opportunity and told the story that we had caught this fish using a trout line. I remember that John Butler even had his picture taken in the Dining Hall with this fish as his prize catch. We were the talk of camp. In fact, I distinctly recall one Sunday afternoon during troop check-in that a Scoutmaster asked how the fishing was. Mr. Ed Human happened to be there and proceeded to tell him that the fishing was great and that some staff caught a 32 pound spoonbill. It was all I could do to keep from bursting out laughing!

Camp Murrey can do strange things to a young staffer. Especially when there are several attractive females in camp. John Butler was always one rock short of a full load and I recall one time he fell for this one girl who spurned him. For some reason that night, after she dumped him, we ended up at the Murrey waterfront and I got into the ‘borrowed’ canoe. John insisted that I return to shore and let him in, but I refused. He then proceeded to undress and attempted to swim out and catch me. I was always able to stay slightly ahead of him, but then he decided to find out how deep the water was in Spencer Creek as I canoed towards the Easter Seal Yes, in the middle of the night John Butler decides to dive to the bottom. Looking back on this, it was quite unnerving that he took 5 or 6 dives just to find the bottom. He eventually tired and of course we thought we saw a Coast Guard boat and headed back to shore. To John, this was just something to do.

From the Archives, February 26, 2018

by Terry Rodgers

I think it was my first year at Stahlman (1963). In those days the staff stayed in a row of four man tents that ran along the hillside below the parking lot just North of the dining hall. There were probably eight to ten tents along this row that most of the “junior” staff resided in. The older staff members usually lived in separate quarters. The waterfront staff always had their envious digs down by the waterfront. The craft tent people along with the commissary folks stayed in their place of business to make sure all was safe and sound.

In those days M-80’s and cherry bombs were a lot more accessible than they are today. I’m sure now they would be considered a class of explosive. Well, one night back in that summer of “63, you’ve got to remember now that was some 38 years ago for me, there was myself, Paul Lynes and Mike Pfister (who lasted about a year on the staff, we all made fun of his last name with the silent “P”) with some idle time. Not a good thing for young teen agers.

We decided that it might be fun to blow up some of the old #10 cans we used for water buckets. There was a road that ran in front of the tents that was used for access by tractor and we were on that road with the fireworks and cans. We had just lit one and proceeded to turn and run when we ran smack into old Chester Lefevre. He had us all collered pretty good and we were not real certain of our continued future with the BSA. About that time the cherry bomb went off and scared the bejeebies out of Chester. We got away with a lecture and a stern warning if it ever happened again.

From the Archives, February 25, 2018

“The Bread Cure” by Mike Brown

I believe this took place in 1985 at Camp Parnell. Sean C. Gallager was the victim of a joke he kept making worse and worse. Sean C. worked in the commissary/kitchen off and on that summer, was a world champion Ping-Pong player, played a mean French horn(the trombone/French horn duet with Rob Prytula at Camp Craig is remembered lovingly by male deer all over the reservation) , and he spoke with a lisp.

At one time he was walking through the activity yard during the poisonous plants demonstration by the instructor. Poison ivy was the subject, and the counselor had an example for showing his group. Sean C. spied the sample and insisted that this was not poison ivy, but a simple creeping ivy. When the counselor disagreed Sean C. took the sample and rubbed it on his arms, showed his arms to the group, said “SEE!!”, and walked off to be caught by Jerry Barnett for mulch duty.

The day must have been hot and he must have used his arms on his face and brow to remove sweat a few times during his labors. When the red itchy patches began to appear he made the trek up the hill toward the health lodge. The con yard site was on the way and Matthew “Peanut” Bailey was the director at the time. He was seen by Sean C. and asked what the red itchy skin was. Peanut answered immediately that it was syphilis, and the at Sean C. had best get some bread on it to draw out the poison. Sean C., being no dummy, still headed up to the health lodge to get expert medical attention from the Ft Campbell medic Steve.

Steve took a look at the situation and immediately pronounced the verdict for the medical situation- An acute case of Poison Ivy.

Sean C. immediately informed Steve that he was wrong because he had been seen by the Great and Mystical Matthew Bailey, who had declared the rash to be none other that poison syphilis. Steve, aware that there could very well be other explanations, carefully asked whether Matthew had recommended a cure. Upon hearing it he agreed that white bread was probably the best way to draw the poison out and ease the itching flesh. He also recommended changing the bread every half-hour.

Sean C. dutifully went to the kitchen and withdrew his prescription of two loaves of Bunny Bread. He sat on the back steps of the loading dock and placed slices along his arms and then held two pieces in place on his face. He explained to all scouts and scoutmasters that he had a bad case of syphilis and was taking the bread cure for relief. After four loaves, I believe that Jerry Barnett finally ordered him to the health lodge for his calamine lotion.

Jerry later asked Peanut why he had told Sean C. it was poison syphilis. The answer that still reverberates in the annals of Craig/Parnell history was: “It seemed like the thing to say.”

From the Archives, February 24, 2018

Camp Anecdotes: The Unsanitary Cat Project
as told by Pearl Schleicher

[This story is actually edited down from a taped conversation with Mrs. Schleicher from April 21, 1996. She was 87 at the time of the interview.]

Phil, Phil Roe, he was over at Stahlman [Kitchen Director ’65-’68] at that time. And I didn’t like a lot of things that Phil done. Number one was playing around with those boys and then he couldn’t boss ’em. They wouldn’t listen to him. Well, he had an old…I think that was a rabbit wasn’t it? He had this old thing he was doing studies on. And he took it in the Men’s room, you know where the men’s room is in the kitchen, and you know how that thing done. And he laid it in the floor, so the komode ran over, and I got the break…, it was breakfast meal was what it was. And he set up a table out there for the staff. And he put that old cat on the grey, I had a grey big platter there, he put that cat on that platter and set that on the staff table. And boy when I found out about it. Whew. But, Phil thought he was having himself a time and he was. He didn’t know it. And there those people, there was Tom Parker [Stahlman ConYard Director, ’60-’68], well the whole staff, come in there and set down and there was that blamed old cat that had been in that water out of the komode. Up there on that table. Boy I was fuming.

Well, can’t even think of the name. Bruce [Atkins, Reservation Director, ’66-’69]. Bruce come in there, walked up to me and said, honey, what’s the matter with you? He knew I was boiling. I said I’m going home. That;s whats the matter. And I was just about ready to fight. He said what in the world has happened and I told him. And he went over to Phil and said, Phil, I think you better get that off of there, she is really ready. But Russell, I had to fight for it. That was unsanitary. Plus it didn’t look right.

I can see the old cat now.