From the Archives, August 25, 2019

Launching the Crib, 1949

Some photos are really awesome… if you understand what is going on. If you don’t, then they are just confusing. At first glance, this is a confusing photo. A bunch of unknown men, by a body of water, moving some giant, wooden thing with barrels. Yeah, this makes sense.

This is one of the famous Rock Island cribs. We’ve discussed the cribs before, in case you’ve forgotten what they are. The barrels show us this is a floating dock and you can see the bottom of the crib right at the waistline of the man in the white shorts.

So, if this a Rock Island Crib, we know a couple of things. The body of water is the Caney Fork River, just down the river from the Rock Island itself. Also, this is most likely from 1949, the first year of the Rock Island Boxwell. “Boxwell III” had many fascinating aspects to it, but the cribs remain the most unique feature and they were not found at any other location.

Rock Island Crib

Rock Island staff launching one of the waterfront’s ‘cribs’

From the Archives, August 18, 2019

Passing the Baton

In March of 1920, the Nashville Council formed. Three months later, they hired their first Scout Executive, Vanderbilt track coach William Anderson. Anderson didn’t particularly want the job. But, after taking a Scoutmaster’s Handbook home and reading it for just one hour, he knew he had to accept the post. He stayed on for the next 27 years, overseeing Boxwell at Linton and the Narrows.

Anderson officially retired at his birthday in June 1947, but agreed to stay on for a few more months while a replacement was found. That replacement was Ward E. Akers. Akers originally hailed from Roanoke, Virginia, but he came to Tennessee through the Eastern Arkansas Area Council, where he had been an executive since 1941. Akers was an incredibly young 34 years old when he took the post on September 15, 1947. He would stay on until his forced retirement at the end of 1975, almost thirty years later.

Both track men at different points in their lives, here is Anderson “passing the baton” on September 15. The two men are front and center, Akers on the left, Anderson on the right. In the background, from left to right are treasurer E. E. Murrey, Assistant Scout Executives James Gribble and Talmadge Miller (both part of the Narrows Boxwell), and George Simpson, deputy regional executive of Region V. It is not an exaggeration to say that big changes both in the Council and at Boxwell would soon follow…

From “New Scout Executive Takes Over Duties,” Nashville Banner, September 16, 1947, pg. 8.

Akers, Anderson, Gribble, Miller, Murrey

Back Row, L to R: treasurer E. E. Murrey, Assistant Scout Executives James Gribble and Talmadge Miller, and George Simpson, deputy regional executive of Region V.
Up Front: Ward E. Akers and William J. Anderson

From the Archives, August 11, 2019

Junior Leaders at the Narrows, 1939

For a little longer than a decade, Camp Boxwell was run by an adult staff. There were a handful of paid staff–the camp director, the waterfront director, the medic, the cook–but virtually every instructor and every other “staff” member was an adult volunteer. Scoutmasters or people supportive of the program would come out to Boxwell for a week or two and teach the skills to the Scouts in camp.

All of this changed in the early 1930s. Likely tested by the end of 1931 but clearly and officially part of the Boxwell program from 1932 on, Junior Leaders became part of the camp staff. Throughout the years at the Narrows, these Junior Leaders were Eagle Scouts and usually had attended Boxwell as campers. There were never more than 8 of these Junior Leaders any summer and they did everything from digging latrines to teaching merit badges to running campfire and church services.

Seen here is one of the earliest known photos of Boxwell’s Junior Leaders. From left to right are O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam. The notes from O. E. Brandon has the photo dated as 1939 and this additional message: “Ensign Gerald Greene killed in action in WWII during Battle of South China Sea while flying a torpedo bomber. His name is listed at Punchboxwell Cemetery as “Lost at Sea.” Of course, in 1939, these five boys hamming it up for the camera during a little down time between sessions of camp could hardly know what the future would hold for them…

Junior Leaders

1939 Junior Leaders at Camp Boxwell. L-R: O. E. Brandon, George Stone, Roy Shaub, and Gerald Greene. Kneeling is Joe Gilliam.

From the Archives, August 4, 2019

The Seymore Duck shirts

Today, Boxwell t-shirts based on popular culture–The Avengers or Ghostbusters movies for example–are pretty common place. In the 1980s, they weren’t. In fact, until this point, camp t-shirts had been very “Scout-y” themes: canoes, wilderness, maps, eagles, and Native Americans. All were fairly common.

In 1986, the owner of Richards and Southern Screenprinters, Terry Calonge, had an idea. Richards and Southern Screenprinters was the company that printed Boxwell’s t-shirts at the time and Calonge suggested that in order to help Trading Post sales, a new theme that appealed to younger Scouts was needed. From here, “Seymore Duck” (as in “see more duck”) was born.

As Russ Parham, Reservation Business manager at the time, explains, “I recall Terry asking me what animal did I associate with Boxwell and I immediately thought of a duck (or rather the ever present Canadian Geese). After discussing what Scout Craft skills were most difficult to master, we decided on fire starting. Terry’s art department then took charge and developed the idea and theme.” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had just recently burst onto the scene (1984), and the “Quack Patrol” was inspired by this.

The Seymore Duck theme lasted a few summers and then faded away. The first two years were the most popular. Again, Parham explains, “Tom Willhite had a rather reserved view of ‘Seymore’ but allowed me to try out the idea. (The key was that I did not lose money on Seymore!).” From a simple concept a new trend was introduced that remains to this day.

Shown here was the first Seymore Duck design, discussed above, and sold at Boxwell Trading Posts in 1986.

Seymore Duck

The first t-shirt to feature Seymore Duck, the start of a shirt design geared toward younger Scouts