Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Boy Scout

In 1950, my father travelled by train to Valley Forge, PA to attend the 2nd National Boy Scout Jamboree. He started up in the Adirondack Park, in his tiny hometown, and travelled through NYC and on to PA. He remembers unloading everything from the train and starting the walk to the campground - when they got there there were more boys than he could have imagined in one place. He and his friends stayed the entire Jamboree - the food was great, he heard President Truman and General Eisenhower speak, and - most special of all - there was a tent with a tiny television, the first TV my father had ever seen.

To him, PA was far away from home, and although he was 12 years old, he was a little homesick. He was glad to get home again, although he claims his mother was a little disappointed he'd found his way back. ;) He didn't know at the time that this was an historic event, one that would turn into a nationwide tradition running over 50 years. For him it was an intensly personal event, a time when a not-so-big boy stepped out on his own and did something he never thought he could do. It was this trip that started him down the road to a much bigger one - to the Air Force and Korea, Japan, and all over the US.

When I talked to my dad about this Jamboree, his voice was full of wonder; the trip was very clear in his mind, and I could hear his enjoyment of it as he spoke. He hadn't thought about it in years, but as we talked I could see him in the dusty tent, staring in amazement at TV, and under the stars at his campsite, talking with friends into the night. I love those pictures he shared with me; now they are mine as well as his.

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