A lot had changed by 1982. Hershel Tolbert was now Council Executive. In fact, Ward Akers had died in 1981. Tom Willhite was now Reservation Director. Ernie Ragsdale was Program Director at Stahlman, though we are ashamed to admit we don’t know who either his Camp Director or Commissioner was that summer. Parnell was closed in 1982, so at Camp Craig, Jerry Barnett was Program Director and Larry Green was Camp Director. Gladys Roberts completed a decade long run at Murrey in 1982. The Ski Dock was closed and would be for another 10 years. Willie Claude was Head Ranger. Both photos here taken by Business Manager Russ Parham.
Part of what makes Boxwell so great are those moments that capture the simple innocence and fun of youth. In that spirit, we keep it really simple this week.
Here is Amy Russell, daughter of Stahlman Program Director Garland Russell, at Camp Murrey in 1973. Young Ms. Russell located below the dining hall and showerhouse. In the modern day, she is near to the two larger cabins. At the time, she was on the road to the “Horseshoe” or “the Hole” where the adult staff and families stayed.
Big smile on her face, Ms. Russell is proudly showcasing a snake she caught while at Camp Murrey that summer.
We continue to look at Boxwell Reservation staff this week, particularly 1972. 50 years ago Ward Akers was still the Council Executive and Ed Human was Reservation Director. Ittabeena was built for Akers, while Human’s family stayed at Murrey. We aren’t sure who ran Murrey in 1972, but everyone agrees the Kathy Howard ran the waterfront there. Garland Russell was in his second year as Program Director at Stahlman with Andy Russell as his Camp Director (again, a professional Scouter). At Parnell, David Farrar was Program Director and Vester Parsley, Jr. his Camp Director. Both camps were working through their second year under the “Commissioner System,” which essentially broke the Activity Yard into 4 smaller AYs and tied them to a different campsites. No one liked it. Bobby Smith was the Ranger and John Stewart ran the Ski Dock. The 1972 Capital Development Campaign was underway.
We have absolutely no staff photos from 1972. However, as an interesting side note, 1972 was the year VERY FIRST staff hat was used. And so, we present you with the first staff hat from the collection of John Stewart and a closer look at the patch from the personal patch collection of Q-ball Pearce.
Camp Cooks have a long history of importance at Boxwell. From 1921 to 1949, Walter Whittaker was the cook at Linton, the Narrows, and the first year at Rock Island. Pearl Schleicher was camp cook at Old Hickory from 1962 to 1994. Ike Davis was another great Boxwell cook.
Davis began working at Boxwell with the Rock Island Boxwell. His first summer with the camp was Whittaker’s last. And like Whittaker, Davis had a long history as a cook for Scout camps. In fact, as The Nashville Tennessean explained, Davis was on his 35th year as a “faithful colored” cook at a Boy Scout camp. The previous experience, as best we can gather, was in Davis’ home of Wheeling, West Virginia.
And this is where the mystery begins. We know very little about Davis. He came from West Virginia. Maybe. He may have come from Arkansas with Akers. He had a brother, Lovey. Maybe. He may not have had a brother, but just a good friend named Lovey. We don’t know when he was born or when he died. And honestly, we aren’t even certain how many years he was at the Rock Island Boxwell!
We do know that he had quite an impact while he was there. He cooked all the meals himself; there was no cook staff beyond Davis (potentially Lovey). This meant he was preparing about 600 meals a day. He made great pancakes and he stayed in a tent by himself near the dining hall tents (across the road from the modern all-season showerhouse).
Perhaps the best description of Davis came from one of Ward Akers’ sons, James. As the “boss’ kid,” many steered clear of James, but not Davis, who Akers described as “like a grandpa.” Davis “was a hoot” and taught Akers how to hambone, a skill he continue to entertain with for decades into the future. Davis told funny stories and “made camp really fun for me,” Akers recalled. Even this isn’t much, but it shows how much one person can make a difference.
The photos this week is of Ike Davis, peeling potatoes at the old Fielding Yost Lodge. The building is gone now, but if you’ve seen the buttercups in the spring, you know the spot.
After looking at the previous Boxwells last week, this week we turn our attention to the Boxwell Reservations staffs of 1962. Ward Akers was Council Executive and James “Foxy” Johnson was Reservation Director. Chester LaFever was Program Director at Stahlman and the Camp Director (a District Executive then) was Charlie Biderman. Camp Parnell was led by Program Director Harold Hitt and Camp Director Ralph Manus. The Ski Dock was run by G. E. McCormack and Camp Murrey by Joan Hitt, Harold’s wife. Coleman Wright was the Ranger.
We only have a staff photo from Camp Parnell, but we present a second photo as well. We don’t know who all the people here are, but the man in the back left is James Johnson and the man center is Ward Akers. It’s a good shot of both men. If you know the other individuals, tell us!