From the Archives, November 3, 2019


The last few weeks we have focused on serious matters in Council history. We felt like it was time to go in a completely different direction this week. Thus, we bring you… fartsacks.

A fart sacks was not quite what it sounded like. It was neither an insult (though I suppose it could be) nor was it an actual sack used to capture farts. No, it was a mattress cover. Fart Sacks existed in a world that still used cotton mattresses and was interested in keeping those mattresses in the best condition possible. By the mid to late 1970s, the covers were retired.

In the early years of Old Hickory Boxwell though, mattress covers were part of camp set up and take down. When cots and mattressed went out to the sites, each cotton mattress was stuffed inside a Fart Sack. One person picked up the mattress, another slide the cover on. And then out the mattress went: on a truck, out to a campsite. And thus “fart sacks”–the covers protected the mattresses from Scouts… and their farts.

The covers also served a secondary purpose. As they became worn and completed their lives as mattress covers, they were often used as burnable material. Torches and the first Burning Eagles were made of this material. Neat side note: mattress covers burned faster than canvas.

Not surprisingly, no one took a direct photo of a mattress cover. Instead, we give you this photo of Skip Marlin at the compound in 1970. Behind Joe is a stack of mattresses. To his right (our left), near the top of the stack you will see a mattress that look just a little bit whiter than the others. That’s because this mattress is still in a cover. And that’s the best we can do…

Skip Marlin, Compound

Pictured here is Skip Marlin of the “Ski Dock” staff, returning boats to the compound at the end of the summer. What matters for our story though are the huge stack of mattresses in the background!

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