From the Archives, January 31, 2021

The Parnell Commissary Shack, 1972

Most people are familiar with the fact that the current buildings that house the Trading Posts were built as part of the 1972 Capital Campaign and originally used service windows. But what about before that? Both Parnell and Stahlman originally started out with large surplus Army tents, usually GP Mediums or Squad Tents. Over time these transformed. In the case of Parnell, the tent was completely replaced.

Seen here is the Parnell Trading Post in April 1972. The Shack would be torn down in the not-too-distant future, so this was one of the last photos of the building. It sat essentially where the current building sits with the power pole on the left of the frame serving as the marker. You can see a picnic table out front and a row of electrical outlets running along a log beam. Vending machines, mostly the soft drink machines with the vertical door and at least candy machine, lined this space.

Craig Camp Director Perry Bruce worked in this Commissary when he was a youth. He explained that a door folded out of the building for serving, but not much stock was kept there, though there were a fair amount of colas in the back so the machines could be stocked every evening. The entire staff was two people and maybe a director (Bruce wasn’t sure!). Because there were vending machines, they kept slightly shorter hours: 8:30-11am and 2-5pm and some evenings. After campfire they might get a little help from other staff.

Bruce did recall two amusing stories about his time with the Parnell Commissary building. First was an anti-climatic story. ” Occasionally, they had somebody tamper with the machine in the middle of the night or something like that, but there was a big flood light on the apex of the roof of the commissary that looked down on those machines. It was easy to get on the roof of that building at the back end. You could sit up there behind that floodlight and they’d never see you.” Bruce sat on the roof. Never caught anyone.

The other story was a little better… “There was a couple of picnic tables sitting there. One day there was a street light there on a pole, right there at the– about where the front corner of the Trading Post would be now. I think that pole was still there for a while, but it would have been broke off at the top. I was there when it got broke off. It had a 7 Up or Pepsi man or something. That pole had a guide wire and he backed up to pull out and hit the guide wire and snapped the top of the pole off. That pole went swinging across one of them picnic tables. There weren’t any kids sitting there then.”

The Parnell Commissary Shack ladies and gentlemen…

Parnell Trading Post, April 1972
The Parnell Commissary in April 1972.

On This Day, January 28

On this day, January 28, 1949, the Nashville Council was officially reorganized into the Middle Tennessee Council. This reorganization was the culmination of a number of changes instituted by Ward Akers since joining the Council in September 1947, including new districts and new district executives. The Council now served thirty-five counties through twelve districts. This reorganization will also led to a new Boxwell later that year.

Ward Akers
A photo of Council Executive Ward Akers and his dogs circa 1973. Akers served as Council Executive from 1947 to 1975.

On This Day, January 25

On this day–Sunday, January 25, 1959—the Capital Campaign for the Old Hickory Lake Boxwell kicked off. The kick-off was a potluck dinner at the Tennessee Air National Guard hangar at Berry Field. The goal of the campaign was $891,000 to build a new multi-camp site on Old Hickory lake. E. B. Stahlman, Jr. chaired the campaign.

E. B. Stahlman
Council President Portrait

From the Archives, January 25, 2021

Floating Platforms, 2010

In May 2010, the mid-state was hit with what was called a 500-year flood, some even called it a thousand year flood. Regardless, it was a lot of rain.

Steve Belew was head ranger at the time. He described the 2010 flood this way: “The [Corps of Engineers] signs marked the top of Old Hickory Dam and once it breached the top, the waters leveled off. We lost the only road into Boxwell on the first morning and had to evacuate an NYLT group out of property through high water before having to shut it down because the waters were too swift. I had a PFD on and a lot of rope and was tying platforms and picnic table to trees during the flood to keep them from floating away. It worked out but probably not the smartest thing I’ve ever done. After the waters receded people came out and wanted to know why we had platforms and picnic tables hanging from tree tops, one of those things you just had to be there! It broke the docks free from their moorings and after the river slowed down I had the help of TWRA to locate them and drag them back up river.”

Given the situation, it makes sense they couldn’t catch all the platforms in time. This one made a break for it.

Floating Platforms
A tent platform floating in the lake, May 2010

On This Day, January 21

On this day–Saturday, January 21, 1984–Boys Will Be Men: Middle Tennessee Scouting Since 1910 by Wilbur F. Creighton, Jr. and Leland Johnson was reviewed after being published at the end of 1983. Johnson was a professor at Vanderbilt. Creighton was not only the president of Creighton Foster Construction, but the son of Council President Wilbur F. Creighton, Sr. and an attendee of the Linton Boxwell. Boys Will Be Men is as much memoir as it is history.

Boys Will be Men
A review of Creighton and Johnson’s history of Middle Tennessee Council