From the Archives, March 29, 2020

Elizabeth Jackson

Two nights ago, we reported on the passing of Elizabeth Jackson. Thus, we thought this might be a good time to give a little information on here. In a period when “feminism” was either unheard of or a bit of dirty word in Scouting circles, Jackson was a program director at Boxwell.

Kathy Howard, the Murrey waterfront director, described Jackson a short and stocky, very physically fit, with short blonde hair. Well into her 30s and early 40s at the tiem, she was still a swimmer too. Vivian Connelly recalled getting to know Elizabeth well the summer she stayed at Murrey when her husband Ken was camp director at Parnell. According to Connelly, Jackson was liked by everyone, was very outgoing and very fair. She was the type of manager who ran things so smoothly, no one even realized anyone was in charge. Things just got taken care of. Jackson made it happen.

As for Elizabeth herself, we caught a bit of her on tape when interviewing Jimmy Joe Jackson in 2002. “I remember lots of things about Boy Scout camp,” she recalled. “I loved Boy Scout camp. I loved Boy Scout camp because there were not telephones down on Murrey side. There were no telephones. We had campfires at night time down there, out in the middle and all of us would come down out of tents, our four man tents and the two man tents on the side of them and talk. And we’d talk and we’d have more fun down there.”

In terms of photos, we only have one contemporary image of Jackson from her last summer at Boxwell, 1970. We posted the story three years ago. Here is the link, but the photo is reported here. Elizabeth was the blonde woman in the passenger seat.

Humans, Jeep, 1970

The Human Sisters in the Boxwell Jeep with Audry Manis and Elizabeth Jackson outside the Cripple Crab, summer 1970

From the Archives, March 22, 2020

Parnell Lunchtime, 1985

Two incredibly mundane photos this week, except they aren’t! Today, Parnell dining hall has been transformed into the Reservation’s STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Center. This means the floor space is partitioned into large cubicles, or teaching areas, for Robotics and Electricity and the like. It’s impressive, but it is a wild re-engineering of the space.

Originally, Parnell Dining Hall was… well, a dining hall. It was a wide open space and people ate meals there. And people ate meals there from 1960 until 1998, when Parnell closed. In the off season, the dining hall was used as a storage facility, mostly for cots and mattresses.

Shown here is the Parnell Dining Hall in 1985. The building is still is good shape and still being used for its intended function. Still, it is in a bit of a hybrid state. By 1985, the entire reservation has moved to cafeteria style feeding (trays), but the square tables are relics of the monitor-host (family style) system. Still, as long as the pitcher for bug juice was filled and the program was entertaining, it is doubtful most Scouts–or even staff–were aware of or even cared about the changes.

Parnell lunch

Parnell Dining hall at lunch time, 1985

Parnell 1985

Parnell Dining Hall at lunch time, 1985

From the Archives, March 15, 2020

Parham and Schleichers

There is often no explaining why it is people took photos of the things they took photos of! What may have made perfect sense at the time become head scratchers twenty or thirty years down the road. And that’s the case here.

This week’s photo is photo of Russ Parham, Reservation Business Manager, center, speaking with Pearl Schleicher, the head cook, and her husband John. What the topic of conversation was is lost to history. Other photos in this group put the year about 1990.

Of course, what does make the photo interesting are the personal stories and how camp life evolves. Parham had started in the kitchen working for Schleicher in 1970 at 15 years old. By 1976, he had been Kitchen Director, a Commissioner (under the Commissioner system), and then Program Director. Within another five, he was Business Manager and having conversations like this regularly with Schleicher.

Schleicher came on in 1962 and stayed until 1994. To say she had a deeply personal connection to Boxwell would be an understatement. But that bond that Schleicher and Parham formed is just one of the many personal stories that made camp life so important to so many…

Parham and Schleicher

From left to right: Pearl Schleicher, Russ Parham, and John Schleicher, Stahlman kitchen, ca. 1990

From the Archive, March 8, 2020

Crippled Crab Fun Facts

We thought we’d keep it simple this week with a couple of Crippled Crab fun facts. Amaze your friends with what you’re learning!

1) The Crab was built primarily with funds raised by the Nashville Kiwanis Club.

2) The Crab did not exist the Reservation’s first summer. The building was constructed in 1961 and dedicated Friday, July 28, 1961.

3) Originally, it was just referred to as the camp’s Administrative Building. “Crippled Crab” was the nickname that stuck because of the design. When E. B. Stahlman saw the model for the building, he said it looked like a Crippled Crab. Hence the name.

4) The design was by Faulkner Hickerson, Scoutmaster of Troop 99 and architect. The building was built by Foster-Creighton Company. Yes, that Creighton.

5) The concrete pad at the Crab did not arrive until the Willhite years, in the late 70s or early 80s. Before then, the area was graveled and the Crab Boys had to rake the gravel in the morning to make sure it looked good.

And the thing you’ve never heard before…
6) The Crab was designed to be drive-through. If you’ve ever wondered why that one window is so much lower than the others, it is because that was the registration window. Cars were supposed to pull up under the roof, up to that window, and the Crab would check-in the driver, who would then pull forward and go on into camp. Apparently, no one moved the road to make this plan actually work…


The Crippled Crab in the early 1970s

From the Archives, March 1, 2020

The Big Four (Revised)

Every now and then, we here at VirtualBoxwell make mistakes. The joy of research is realizing that what you THOUGHT was correct at one point, turns out to be incorrect with a bit more digging. Fortunately, new discoveries help change the existing story and allow us to write new narratives.

That’s the case this week. Back in April of 2018, we posted the below color photograph of “the Big Four.” After some recent research in the Nashville Banner, it turns out that half of these individuals were incorrecty identified. From left to right are F. Murrey Acker, E. B. Stahlman, Ward Akers, and Representative J. Carlton Loser. The Scouts folding the flag in the background are Melton Abernathy, Thomas Smith, and James Seay.

The line up makes sense, once put in context. These four men were posing outside Stahlman dining hall on the day of the Reservation’s dedication ceremonies, July 9, 1960. F. Murrey Acker was president of the council and gave the primary dedication address. Stahlman, whose brother James was the event’s master of ceremonies, read letters, telegrams, and messages from dignitaries who would not be present, such as Governor Buford Ellington and Senator Al Gore, Sr. Ward Akers himself was absent from the program that day, allowing the volunteers to run the show.

J. Carlton Loser was the Tennessee’s representative from Nashville to the U.S. Congress. He had been instrumental in passage of the special act of Congress that allowed the Council to purchase the core Boxwell property from the Corps of Engineers, securing the title for construction. While the specifics of what he said do not appear to have not survived, the papers did note that when Loser rose to speak, he was greeted with a standing ovation. His work was known and appreciated.

Later that month, Loser came back to Boxwell and toured the whole property with Akers, Ackers, E. B. Stahlman, James “Foxy” Johnson, and Scout leader Paul Huff. He had a hot dog with Scouts at Parnell, visited the Ski Dock (Boat Harbor), and attended flag lowering at Stahlman. Of the Scouting project, Loser remarked, “I’m glad to have had a part in this great project. The greatest contribution to our nation is made through the training of young people engaged in such activities as Scouting.”

Big Four

Dedication, July 9, 1960. F. Murrey Acker, E. B. Stahlman, Ward E. Akers, and Rep. Carlton Loser [updated March 2020]