From the Archives, February 10, 2019

Narrows of the Harpeth “Emergency”

As promised back in January, our New Years’ Resolution at VirtualBoxwell.org was to post more anecdotes this year. As with all New Years’ Resolutions, we may soon abandon this plan; interaction with story posts tend to be much lower than posts with photos. Still, we see value in these… at least for the time being.

This week’s story is true rarity as it comes from the Narrows of the Harpeth Boxwell. O. E. Brandon was a staff member in the late 1930s, working in what would today be considered the Activity Yard, though there was no such thing then. The paragraph below comes from Brandon’s unpublished memoirs, titled “Recollections.” He covers not only Boxwell, but his time in Scouting. For our purposes this paragraph gives us an interesting snap shot of summer camp life a long time ago.

From O. E. Brandon’s “Recollections,” pgs. 19 and 20. Dates are unknown. Brandon was a staff member in 1938 and 1939.

“Time spent at Camp Boxwell was fun and a lot of scouting tall tales and fond memories run rampant in my thoughts. There are too many to cover, but a few stand out. The scout camp was scheduled for an inspection by representatives of the national council on a Monday following one of cleanup weekends. We Jr. Leaders were told very emphatically that we must do a good job with cleanup and the digging and properly preparing a new pit latrine. Just before James Gribble, the Camp Director, left camp we discovered that there was not enough lime to spread over the new latrine. Lime is a white caustic powder that helped keep down bacteria and odor in an open pit latrine and was a must for good sanitation. Gribble assured us that he would be back Sunday afternoon with the lime so that it could be put out for the Monday morning national council inspection. We dug the new latrine and went about the other cleanup and restocking chores. Groceries, ice, and other needed supplies were delivered and stored on Saturday as scheduled. Sunday night was approaching and no James Gribble with the lime. We had no way of knowing that his old car had broken down, and there were no telephones within miles for him to call us. All we knew that there had to be lime on the latrines for Monday morning. What we did have was plenty of baking flour that looked just like lime. We rationalized that this was an emergency and that we would not be violating the first Scout Law, “A Scout is Trustworthy” if we spread lime over the flour when we got some, so we spread a generous coating of baking flour over the latrine Sunday night. The National Council inspectors were complimentary over the good sanitary appearance of the latrine.”

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