Badges of Rank
The Boy Scout movement has always been strong in
Pacolet Mills. The Boy Scouts of America started in
1910 and at least by 1927 there was a troop in
Pacolet. I joined Troop 17 at Pacolet Mills in 1949
when I was 12 years old. Being in the Boy Scouts
played a big part in my life when I was growing up.
In 1949, the Scout meetings were held in the
American Legion Hut. At least that is what we called
it. It was behind Dr. Hill’s office and across the
road from where the swimming pool was to be built at
a later date. Mr. Curt Puckett was the Scoutmaster
when I joined. There were other adult leaders to
help him but I don’t remember their names.
At one time, in the 1930’s, there had been a
special Scout Hut built for Troop 17. It was behind
the Methodist Church and not far from the River and
was close to “The Island”. I don’t remember ever
seeing this hut but it is shown in some photos on
this website. Click
on this link to see photos of the old Scout Hut.
The highlight of the year in the scouts was to go
to Camp Palmetto
in the mountains just outside of Saluda, NC for a
week. During my teen years I went to camp almost
every year and had a great time - except for the
first time. My brother Dink and I went to camp in
1950 and both of us got terribly homesick. After a
day or so, that went away and we had a great time.
Most of the camp centered around the lake and
swimming. I remember that the water was ice cold and
would take your breath.
I had a disturbing experience this first summer
in camp. The rest of the troop and I were going to
the mess hall when we realized that they were
calling my name over and over on the camp PA system.
They told me to report to the swimming area at the
lake. When I got there, I found a group of upset
lifeguard and camp counselors and the reason for the
alarm. Each scout had a nametag that we had to hang
on a check-in board when we went swimming. When we
got out, we removed the tag and put it in another
place. That morning, after all of the swimmers had
gotten out, my name tag was still there and they
were afraid that I had drowned. That had led to all
of the excitement. I explained to them that I had
not even been swimming for the last couple of days
because of the cold water so I could not have left
the tag up. After awhile, everyone got convinced
that no one was really missing.
There was always lots to do at the camp. One
special thing was to get inducted into the Order of
the Arrow. This was an honorary camping society. One
or two boys from each troop was selected for the
ritual. I was selected in 1952. It was a surprise
until the night you were picked. You were taken out
to a place on the mountain, in the dark and left to
sleep there by yourself. The next morning they came
back for you but you could not say anything and you
had to do physical labor all day. Also, you were
given very little food the next day, basically,
bread and water. That night you were inducted into
the Order of the Arrow in an impressive ceremony at
a big campfire beside the lake. It sounds bad, but
actually it was lots of fun.
Sometime about 1951, Troop 317 was started from
Troop 17 and the meeting place was changed.
Montgomery Memorial Methodist Church became the
Troop sponsor and we had meetings in a special room
in the church basement. Both my brother and I joined
this Troop. Our Scoutmaster was Charles “Buddy”
Foster and the assistant scoutmasters were Jim
Kimrey and John Lovings. They all worked hard for
the troop and planned activities for us. Click on this link for a
group photo of Troop 317 about 1953.
We went on many hikes and official Camporees at
places like Kings Mountain. Also we had lots of
camping trips with just our Troop at places like on
Fairforest Creek. Click on this link
for photos of Troop 317 at Camp Palmetto.
The highlight of my Boy Scout experience was in
1953. Beverly Mottes and I were chosen to represent
Troop 317 and attend the National Boy Scout Jamboree
at Irvine Ranch in California. The entire trip took
about a month and we traveled by train. The return
trip included going into Canada. It was an amazing
trip for a 16 year old and gave me memories that
have lasted a life time.
The boys of Pacolet, including myself, were very
fortunate that men like Buddy Foster, Jim Kimrey and
John Lovings gave their time and energy to provide
us the Scouting experience.
(This article covers the Boy Scouts
in Pacolet in the early to mid 1950s. Recently,
Jimmy Hodge, a former Eagle Scout, has furnished an
update to more recent times. You can read this at More About the Boys
Scouts in Pacolet. He has also compiled a list
of Pacolet Eagle Scouts.)