On this day–Thursday, October 9, 1975–the Executive Board accepted the resignation of Ward Akers, effectively ending the executive’s 28 year run with the Middle Tennessee Council. The Board met at Stahlman Dining Hall and the meeting was chaired by Council President C. A. “Neil” Craig, II (son of Edwin W. Craig, of Camp Craig fame).
There was some debate at the meeting as loyalty to Akers was strong. Some members felt Akers would be retiring “in disgrace.” Others felt the motion to accept the resignation be deferred to a later meeting when there had been more time to review the “Blue Ribbon Committee” reports that had arrived earlier in the week. One member said flatly, “I’ve read this report from cover to cover two times and I could not find enough wrong in that report to condemn anyone.”
Nevertheless, the wheels were already in motion. Several private conversations had already been had with Akers, who did not attend the meeting. Akers believed that retiring was for the good of the Scouting program and allow the Council to get back to the business of helping the boys. It was this argument that won the day. The vote to accept Akers’ resignation passed, effective upon the hiring of a new Executive, at which time Akers would become “executive emeritus.”
On this day–Friday, October 4, 1975–the Council released the findings of the “Blue Ribbon Committee” into accusations against Ward Akers. The “Blue Ribbon Committee” was actually several committees, including committees reviewing Council Administrative practices, Accounting, Budget, Ethics, Program, and Salary and Personnel. The Ad Hoc Committees were a direct result of accusation made against Council Executive Ward Akers by Nashville Banner reporter Larry Brinton reporter in July.
The committees ultimately exonerated Akers. Nevertheless, at the same time that the Committee reports were released, Akers announced his retirement, effective as soon as a successor could be found. Akers had retired for the good of the program. As he wrote in his resignation, “I will personally accept the blames of all problem areas that could have been corrected with more time given to the desk and dedication to paper work.” An Executive Board meeting at Stahlman dining hall later in the month accepted this resignation. In the meantime, the newspapers in Nashville–the Nashville Banner and the Tennessean–published highlights of the Committee reports as well as Akers’ resignation letter.
We are pleased to premiere our final installment of the History of Boxwell video. This month we conclude our look at Boxwell Reservation at Old Hickory Lake with out third. The first part covered the Akers years, 1960-1975. The second part covered the Willhite era, 1976-1996.
This particular video utilizes pieces of multiple videos over the last twenty five years. Some of these videos were actual promotional videos, whereas others were part of the Leaders’s Guides, which became increasingly electronic and digital. Additionally, it pulls music from The Tennessee Boys (made of mostly Stahlman staff from the late 1990s and early 2000s) as well as a little snippet from the Bloodworth Brothers (made of Craig staff in the 2000s). And, of course, you’ll see photos here we’ve never put out to the public before. It also includes narration by staff members from the period. We hope you enjoy it.
And that’s it. That concludes our video History of Boxwell. We hope you enjoyed them all. More historical material coming next month.
The Pump House has been undergoing a transformation in recent months. On Friday night it emerged from its renovations at the Centennial Scout Museum. As the Pump House begins its new life, we thought it might be nice to take a moment to explore its original creation. The Pump House was donated to the Council as part of the 1959 Capital Development Campaign by the Clover Bottom Development Center. It operated from 1959, pumping water from the lake, purifying that water, and then pumping the clean water up to the Water tower by the Crab. The Pump House was finally closed in 1976 when repairs were deemed too costly. The Reservation tied into Laguardo Water District.
At one point though, the pump house was quite an operation. If you’ve ever wondered how the Pump House actually operated, Kerry Parker operated the facility for a period around 1968-1969. IN an interview in 2001, he explained how the building operated. There’s more to this story, which we’ll tell another time, but this gives a basic operation of the water plant at Boxwell…
The Horseshoe down there is an old quarry of some kind. That’s why the walls are like they are… And they’ve got that metal deck, if it’s still down there, with the two pumps on it that stand out over the water. And those are the intake pumps from the lake. Those pumps pumped [water] up through a long trough that had weirs in it, things that make the water go up and down, and you’d add alum at the beginning of that trough and it mixes it up, going up and down in operation, under the weir and over the weir and under the weir and over the weir. And that thing was probably about ten feet deep and about three feet wide.
Then [the water] would come out of the wears into a tank that used to be on the dining hall side of the pump house. [T]hat was a settling tank. Now, in the settling tank, the water slows down. And since it’s been mixing with the alum, and the alum makes the dirt in the water coagulate into kind of a clear coagulation, and it’s heavy. And it will settle to the bottom.
Off the top of the settling tank, going into the plant, into the inside of the Pump house on the second floor, it goes into a sand filter. It goes in and washes over the sides and falls onto a sand filter. Goes down through a sand filter and then goes down into a big tank. That’s still there the last time I was out there, below the plant into what’s called a spring tank. Now that’s water that’s ready to drink, is a spring tank. And on top of the spring tank there’s two more pumps and those pumps pump the water up the line to the tank at the top of the hill. And there’s a set of sensors in those tanks that when the pressure gets a certain point, when the [water tower] tank gets full at the top of the hill, it’ll shut those pumps down.
On this day–Saturday, September 24, 1960–Leslie G. Boxwell passed away. Boxwell had been suffering from an undisclosed illness for 10 years by this point. His wife, Jeanette Stacey, had passed away in May 1947, so Boxwell had been a widower for some time by this point. They had been married since 1911. L. G. “Box” Boxwell left quite a legacy. A native of Clearcreek, Ohio, he moved to Nashville in 1906 and quickly became associated with several automobile and road interests. He eventually became the General Manager of the Tennessee Metal Culvert Company and established another similar company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was a road building activist in early 20th century Tennessee as a member of the Tennessee Good Roads Association. He was very active in a variety of other associations in the mid-state as well, including the Rotary Club. Through his work with the Rotary, Boxwell helped form the Nashville Council in 1920 and he agreed to served as the Camping Committee chair after William Anderson was named Council Executive. It was through his work with the Camping Committee, he established the first summer camp at Linton in 1921. The Council named the location “Camp L. G. Boxwell” in recognition of his work. He often visited the camp with his wife and was instrumental in providing transportation for Scouts out to camp all summer. Upon the sudden death of Edgar Foster in 1925, he became the Council President. He served in this position until 1947. In those years, he continued his work with Camp Boxwell, helping to secure the Narrows of the Harpeth location in 1930. He took out a personal loan to keep the camp afloat in the darkest days of the Depression, but was able to bounce back with contracts from the TVA when the New Deal kicked in. By all evidence, Boxwell and Anderson were good friends and when Boxwell retired at the start of 1947 (after the death of his wife the year before), Anderson followed not long after. Boxwell remained somewhat active with the Council, helping to secure Ward Akers as Executive as well as (by some accounts) secure the Rock Island property for the third Boxwell. It is believed that his last Scouting public appearance was the kick-off meeting for the 1959 Capital Campaign that built Old Hickory Boxwell. He did not attend the dedications for this fourth camp in July 1960.
Services were held for Leslie G. Boxwell on Tuesday, September 27 at Martin’s 209 Louise Ave. He was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Honorary Pallbearers included Ward Akers, William J. Anderson, Ennis E. Murrey and James G. Stahlman. He was 79 years old.