From the Archives, December 8, 2019

Getting Hired, 1965

Camp Staff interviews were held this weekend at Boxwell Reservation, specifically at the John Parish High Adventure Center. In honor of this event, we thought we’d share a story about getting WAY back in the day to show how the process has changed. This following is from a recording Kerry Parker made in November 1998 about getting hired in 1965. Kerry was 18 years old.

I went down and the Scout Office at that time was at 207 24th avenue north. That out off West End there and, right before you get to Centennial Park. It was in a two story brick house. And, it was about, well the first house on the street there. There was a filling station there next to it. And, this parking lot, it’d been made in the back. You walked in the front door and when you walked in, you walked into the Scout Shop basically, which was a little foyer about 8×12 or 10×12 or something like that… But anyway, on past that was a set of steps that went up to the left and I went up, they directed me up those steps and I went up. And they told Mr. Johnson I was there.

When you got up to the top of the stairs there you entered into a room. And to the best of my memory, there was a desk to the right and a desk to the left and on straight forward was Mr. Akers’ office. Way back in the back to the left at the top of the stairs, two or three desks back, kinda on a porch that had been built on to the house was this desk where Mr. Johnson was [the Reservation Director].

Well, somebody directed me back there and set me down in a little chair beside the desk and Mr. Johnson came back. He started talking to me. And he asked me how old I was. I told him. What rank I was. I told him. Talked to him and talked to him. But didn’t talk to me very long. Matter of fact, it was a fairly short interview. And, he said, “Well, can you swim?” And I said, “Yes, I can.” And told him what all merit badges I had and everything like that. And he says, “Well, yeah, we can use you this summer. We can probably use you on the Waterfront this summer. If you are on the Waterfront, you’ll have to go to National Camp School.” Because at that time, everybody that worked on the waterfront went to National Camp School. But also National Camp School was at Boxwell – years and years it was at Boxwell.

So, I [said] yes, I’d like to do it. And he said, basically, well, you’re hired. We’ll let ya know. So, I left. You know, felt real good. He didn’t make a lot out of it, just said you’re hired, you know, we’ll let you know.

So, I left, went home, told mom, dad. “Yeah, I am going to work out there.” I gotta make arrangements with [my boss in town] to take off another week to go to this camp school. So, I went and talked to him and he said, “Yes, you can do that Kerry. That’s not a problem.” So, there I was.

I waited about a month and no word. Got out about two weeks, about a month from camp. Maybe three weeks from camp, hadn’t heard a word. And so, we was sittin’ at the kitchen table one night and I told ‘em “Well, I hadn’t heard anything. Its right here time for camp to start. “ I says, “I guess, maybe, maybe I didn’t make the grade on that.” My dad says, “Well… they’ve changed some changes down there. I’m gonna be down at a meeting at” and he was involved in Scouts at that time, says “I’ll ask ‘em, you know, if you’re still supposed to come to camp, or something, but that you haven’t received anything.”

So, he went to the meeting. I guess it was a district meeting or something. He came back that night and it seems that Mr. Johnson had left and Bruce Atkins, who came to be a real mentor of mine… had taken over. He told my dad, he says, “Yes! You have him come out there on a certain date.” So, dad came home and told me about it and I was excited about it, you know.

Sure enough, a day or two a letter wrote that I needed to report there and I needed to have this gear and that gear and I’d be there for camp school, for so many weeks, and so forth and so on. I also at the first meeting, they had told me, I think they had told me I’d be making $25 at the first meeting, at the interview meeting… which was unheard of this time. It used to be, you’d start the first year, ‘course most people were younger, you didn’t get anything. But to start on the waterfront, to start at $25 a week would be like starting for $100 a week now.
“Getting Hired” by Kerry Parker
Recorded self-interview, November 5, 1998

From the Archives, September 28, 2019

The Death of E. B. Stahlman
 
This week we take a look at a short, but somber moment. E. B. Stahlman was not only the Vice-President and co-publisher of the _Nashville Banner_, but he had been absolutely critical to securing the land and leading the capital development campaign for the Old Hickory Boxwell. As a result of his work, Camp Stahlman was named for him. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1968 and passed away at home on Wednesday, June 12, 1974.
 
Pearl Schleicher, the camp cook from 1962 through 1994, remembered the moment when the news reached camp. In this week’s anecdote, Schleicher relates the story to Kerry Parker and Russ Parham in an audio interview on July 17, 2001. Schleicher was approximately 92 years old at the time. She passed away in 2004.
 
Pearl Schleicher: [Ward Akers] came in the kitchen over there one morning, right at breakfast time, went directly into the store [room] and Ed [Human, Reservation Director] went in there with him. And he stayed and stayed and stayed. Finally, Ed come out and when he did, I went in. I said, “Mr. Akers, come and eat some breakfast.” And the tears were dropping off on the floor. He had lost his best friend. And I said something about Mr. Evans. His name Evans?
 
Kerry Parker: No, Stahlman. E. B. Stahlman.
 
Pearl: Stahlman! I said, “just come on out here and eat.” And them tears were really dropping. I couldn’t imagine what was making him cry so. And then when he said, “Well doll, I’ve lost the best friend I’ve ever had. The best friend I’ve ever had.” He repeated it! And I said, “Well come on and eat something, you’ll feel better.” “Doll, I don’t want anything. I’m full.” He meant he was full of grief, I reckon is what he meant.
 
Kerry: Now, this was at breakfast time that he came in? And E. B. Stahlman is the man that was instrumental in Camp Stahlman, the camp where you were working at the kitchen, right? And him and Akers were…
 
Pearl: I just forgot his name.
 
Kerry: E. B. Stahlman, yeah. Well, that’s interesting. Did you ever see Mr. Akers cry before?
 
Pearl: No, he was always so jolly.
 
Kerry: Yeah. I never did either, so I thought that was a very interesting story to see the human side of Mr. Akers.
 
Pearl: Well he had it. He had that human side.
 
The Death of E. B. Stahlman
Interview with Pearl Schleicher, February 17, 2001

From the Archives, September 1, 2019

“Gentlemen, there are ladies present…”
 
**This week’s anecdote is from a collection of stories and memories that Steve Eubank recorded for us back in 2001. This was back before Steve had begun his second tenure on Boxwell staff.**
 
In 1973, I brought someone to camp – my wife. We had just gotten married. Judi had never spent any time in a tent. We lived in the Hole down in Camp Murrey where married Staff lived.
 
One of the most interesting characters that I referred to earlier was Mr. Luke Gaffin. When I arrived at Boxwell in 1970, Mr. Gaffin was the Director of the Con-Yard at Parnell. Mr. Gaffin would sit in on our staff meetings, and I’m sure, being the wise person he was, our staff meetings were somewhat comical and hilarious to him because he was an individual who had been on the staff for many, many, many years, probably more years than some of the younger staff put together. But he was an individual that would sit underneath the cedar tree, and smoke his pipe. He had a parrot, I can’t remember the name of the pet parrot. He would sit and smoke his pipe, and that old parrot would sit on his shoulder. Of course on Sundays, he would drive the Little John for us, delivering gear to the camp sites.
 
I think one of the most interesting tales about Mr. Luke involved having ladies present in the dining hall. Judi, my wife, was dining hall director. And as usual, we had the boys lined up on each side of the dining hall ready to come in. Mr. Luke, along with some other of the main staff, was in the dining hall as usual, drinking coffee. I had noticed when I entered the dining hall that there were footprints on the tables. About that time, Mr. Luke looked up, and said, “Gentlemen, there are ladies present.” Well, I knew Judi was in there. But when we looked up to the very center top of the rafters of the dining hall, we saw that someone had stacked the tables during the night and had pinned a Playboy pin up at the top of the ceiling of the dining hall. Well, by that time, we had the monitors in there, and we thought kind of quick action was to go and have Flag Raising. Well, we’d already put the flag up, but at the same time, I told ‘em we’d have a little opportunity to learn how to take the flag down and put it up again. So, I got all the monitors out. We had some fishing poles that were left over from the Tennessee Preparatory School troops who had come up to camp, and we finally got the Playboy picture down. It was very funny, but at the same time, it was something that I remember Mr. Luke saying, “Gentlemen, there are ladies present.”
 
“Gentlemen, there are ladies present…”
Collection of Steve Eubank
Personal recordings, 2001

From the Archives, June 30, 2019

The Beaver Story, 1987

If you’ve been to camp in say–oh, I don’t know–the last thirty years, you’ve probably heard “The Beaver Song.” But have you heard “The Beaver Story”? Probably not. And, we happen to know a few 1990s Parnell/Craig Staff members who might find this story particularly interesting.

From the desk of Ted Rodgers, February 7, 2002:
The disappearing beaver (as I don’t remember this one being told before)

The year: 1987(?)

The place: Stahlman Dining Hall

The actors: Stahlman camp staff, Parnell/Craig camp staff, a stuffed beaver

The set up: High above the mantle, a good 10 to 15 feet in the air, and to the left of the fireplace was one of the most memorable Woodbadge flags ever; as much as I wish I could remember who penned that beautiful flag, the detail escapes me… Anyways…. Although I’m not sure this is STILL the case, the dining hall at Stahlman in the eighties was decorated with past Woodbadge leader training patrol flags. A very nice touch, as they were often very artistic and added to the overall ‘rustic-ness’ of camp life.

Now, this particular Woodbadge flag was from the Beaver patrol, and it was topped off with a 2-to-3 foot tall beaver, keeping guard over the kids at Stahlman. Whenever we would dare to creep up the rocks that made up the dining hall chimney to get a closer look, he was quite dusty, one eye seemed to be popping out, and he had generally seen better days (not to mention that he had that pleasant mixture of mildew and chicken dumplin’ fragrance)… Often times, Ernie Ragsdale would award a kiss for the beaver as a gizmo prize (or was it a disciplinary measure? either way, it was a lot of fun) to a lucky camper or slightly unruly staff member. It should be disclosed that I was never sent up the wall to kiss the beaver. So, as a full dining hall would award the prize/punishment of true love’s kiss, we would all chant lowly and rhythmically, “beaver…. beaver…. beaver…. beaver….” All in all, great fun.

Enter Parnell/Craig staff (can’t remember which one was open that year)… I’m not sure if it was a fellow named Brown or Estes, but it was ALLEGED that one of the two had cooked up a scheme to steal the beaver in the middle of the night. I remember it was bolted into a concrete/mortar wall with what must have been a very large, very deep bolt. I’ll let you be the judge of who may have actually taken it, as it’s not known for sure, but that’s how legend holds it….

A mad hunt ensued for the return of the beaver, but it was always fruitless. Everyone seemed to have an alibi, and no one was caught furry-handed at any point. One day during lunch, one of the two doors aside the fireplace along the long side swung open just enough for SOMEONE to ram the beaver through the door. This occurred days after he was taken, but a mad chase ensued. As mysteriously as he had re-appeared, the culprit got away without being seen (Ernie slowed us down with a stalled ‘Monitors Stand by’)

For the rest of the summer, whenever Ernie awarded the gizmo prize of true love’s first kiss, the chant would start back from the staff tables and spread across the dining hall, lowly and rhythmically….. “Wall….. wall…… wall…… wall…..” Naturally, since that was the only thing left after the great beaver heist. Kids must have been very confused, at least the ones who hadn’t been to camp before…

When I trekked from Arizona to the Staff reunion a few years ago, I looked up at the wall, empty, and still became a bit misty and nostalgic. Last anyone had heard of the beaver, he had made it to a fraternity house somewhere in the state of Alabama…. Lucky guy…..

The Disappearing Beaver
Collection of Ted Rodgers
E-mail sent Monday, February 7, 2002