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

From the Archives, June 23, 2019

Beds in a tent

It is well-established by now that Camp Murrey–today CubWorld–was the family camp. This meant families of Scoutmasters had a place to stay during the summer. It also meant that the spouses and families of staff members had a place to stay. This week, a quick story from 1972 by Ski Dock Staff member John Cyril Stewart

“When my fiance and I were discussing how to set up our home I had been .
sleeping diagonally on a small antique double bed. I asked her if she
wanted to sleep in the upper or lower corner of the bed after we were
married. We (read she) decided that our first purchase would be a king
size bed. The wedding day came and the honeymoon in Atlanta. Then we
returned and arrived at Boxwell where we would spend the first three
months of our married life. At that time, 1972, Camp Murray (now
Cubworld) was a family camp where wives and children of staff lived for
the summer. Wives and children of adult scouters camped for a week or two
at a time while their husbands/fathers stayed with scouts at Parnell or
Stahlman.

“I’ll never forget the look on the face of the delivery truck driver for
Payne’s Furniture. He asked, “Where do you want this king sized bed
delivered?” I replied, ” In that tent”!
Beds in a tent
Collection of John Stewart
E-mail sent Monday, October 2, 2000

Interview Transcription Project: Thank You

The campaign has achieved its goal! You made it happen!
 
To all of you who contributed to my GoFundMe Campaign, thank you. To those who have supported VirtualBoxwell over the last (almost) two decades, thank you. To those who continue to put up with my mild obsession with Boxwell, thank you.
 
As I prepare to move into the formal writing stage of the history of Boxwell, I want to pause for just a moment. Over the course of working on this Boxwell project, I have met and conversed with the most incredible people. Some were camp legends, some were personal legends. All were legendary.
 
I’ve heard the most fantastic stories. Stories that have made me laugh; stories that have made me think. I’ve heard stories that have made me sad and stories that have made me cringe. Every conversation was unique and amazing in its own way. Oral histories are people’s lives and I’m thrilled to have captured so many.
 
Through doing this research, I walked into the lives of people I wouldn’t have met for any other reason, but I would now call you friends. I’ve been surprised and proud to earn the support of individuals who are part of social circles I would never have dreamed of being connected to in any way. And of course I deeply appreciate those friends who have come forward to assist, some camp related from youth, and others from adulthood who have never even set foot on Boxwell soil.
 
If you can excuse the expression, it has been one hell of a ride so far, and I have loved it.
 
It has been such an indescrible joy to be part of this story throughout my own life. To know that people are counting on me to write this communal story–a story that has never been told–is mind-boggling and humbling. I am overwhelmed in the best way possible.
 
So, to everyone who has been a part of this in any way, thank you for making this happen. It has been an incredible journey so far. There are still quite a few miles to go, but I have renewed confidence I can complete the journey in time for the Centennial in 2021!
 
Grady Eades

Eades, 1994

This is me, Grady Eades, as Activity Yard Director in 1994. Tom Willhite was still Reservation Director and he referred to the Activity Yard as the “AY Yard,” something we all laughed about!

Interview Transcription Project: Russ Parham

**My campaign ends today and every little bit helps. This is it: the FINAL Post!**

This incredible individual is Russ Parham. Russ joined the Boxwell staff in 1970 as a Stahlman kitchen staff, became the youngest program director ever with the Great Staff Walk Out in 1976, was on Program Director during the “Staff Switch” in 1979/1980, and was involved in every detail of camp planning in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s in his role as Business manager. To say that Russ was important to Boxwell is like saying grass is green. It is so obvious as to make definition seem silly.

Russ came to my home for our interview on July 29, 2017. We spoke for over four hours. This interview needs to be transcribed.

Russ’s time cannot be easily summarized. Even the four hour interview fails to do justice to the story of a man so intricately involved in the history of Boxwell. No other single individual has been so helpful to this project or understands Boxwell’s history so well. My only regret with interviewing Russ is that we couldn’t set up a series of smaller, topic-specific interviews. We could talk for days and still not capture all of Russ’s experience.

Please, help me reach my goal. Contribute to the Boxwell Interview Transcription Project: https://www.gofundme.com/boxwell-history-transcription-project to get this interview transcribed so I can produce a history of Camp Boxwell for its centennial in 2021.

Parham

Russ Parham at a campout with friends, 2007