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.