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Why people buy me old Boy Scout stuff is beyond me. On the one hand, it's kind of cool. On the other, how much stuff is too much for an aging professional scouter?


I have three copies of the Boy Scout Field book on the desk in front of me. You're welcome to one of two of them by paying the postage (can I send stuff COD?)


I have one that was copyrighted in 1947 (authored by James E. West and Bill Hillcourt.) I want to keep that one.


I have a hardcover edition of the 1967 Fieldbook (original) and a copy of the same Fieldbook that was printed in 1981.


There was another writing of the Fieldbook that appeared in the late 80's, but I don't have one of those. Don't want one, either.



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"Why people buy me old Boy Scout stuff is beyond me"


Why do people collect anything? My wife has a humongous collection of ceramic cherubs in snowsuits. Some of these things are damned expensive. Why do some people collect 78 RPM records?


I collect old Scoutbooks for a couple reasons. They are interesting to read for a historic perspecitive on the program. Also, most of them have much more useful information than the current one (with the exception of the evil first aid information).



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  • 4 months later...

I would like to try my hand at answering the question, "Why do people collect stuff?". I grew up in a household that was fairly simple and straight forward. Everything was clean and well arranged. I don't fault my parents in the least for the environment they created because my Dad was an engineer and my Mother was a professional homemaker with only one family as a customer. My Dad built his own heating and air conditioning and plumbing company over the years and to his eventual disappointment, he hired me to crawl around in attics to install duct work and to dig ditches for sewer lines. I was a perfectly capable young man during those long hot summers in Texas but I found that I lacked the interest to sustain longevity. I worked in the evenings, summers and many weekends where I accepted the fact that the heat and the insulation in attics were sufficient reasons for my eventual career move.


I discovered many things from this early training that helped me over the years and in several other jobs, university training, and later in my present career. I want to credit my parents for those good lessons because they did the best with what they had, which was, of course, me and my brothers. My older brother still runs the family business and has been quite successful. Texas is a hot dry land and air conditioning and plumbing are required.


One day, a few years after I had left my shovel and sweat stained clothes behind, I was driving down a road where they were tearing down an old rock house. I thought I would stop and look around. I went through the house looking at the construction from the perspective of a foreigner looking back on the past. I have always been intrigued with rock houses since I first read about them in the Three Pigs story. Rock houses have since represented good craftsmanship and something that could not be blown away. I looked in one of the closets and saw the attic opening. Since I have past experience in such spaces, I decided that I would have a look.


So, up I went into the dark recesses to look at the attic structures. While I was there I stumbled on an old Boy Scout fiction book by Scoutmaster G. Harvey Ralphson, "Boy Scouts in the Philippines or The key to the Treaty Box". The house mouse had feasted on some of the cover but mostly it was intact. I was stumped by my find because I had also been a Boy Scout along with my other vocational training and had never heard of this type of book. Since the book was dated 1911, the start date of Scouting, it presented another mystery. Also, the Scout in the picture on the front cover was a Scout wearing an American First Class badge and cooking on a fire, supposedly in a foreign country and he had his dog with him. I wondered how somebody was able to enter Scouting at the inception, become a Scoutmaster, go to a foreign land, and complete a book before the end of the first year. I attributed this to the sturdy nature of people early in the 20th century and to the later invention of the TV. Knowing the nature of most Scouters, one that predisposes them to do as many jobs as possible, I knew that it was a high probability answer but I had to know more.


Since Vice president Al Gore had not invented the Internet and the only computers around were something that was difficult for someone without a technical nature, I had to look in places where there might be answers. Somebody told me about a Scout Tradeoree in Dallas, so I found out about the next date and attended. I guess I could say that the rest is history and be telling you the truth.


I completed collecting the Ralphson series several years ago. The series has wonderful pictures on the front covers that are representative of things that Scouting didn't want authors to write about. They later were able to get the publishers/authors to stop writing outlandish things, such as Boy Scouts on Motorcycles or Boy Scouts in the Verdun Attack. The founders of Scouting didn't want boys to believe that the Scout program held the kind of excitement that dangerous activities or World Wars bring to mankind. They wanted young people to learn about citizenship, character building, and physical fitness, as noted in the ideals of Scouting.


Scouting instituted a series of books that were approved for youth reading. They hired a librarian, Franklin K. Mathiews to manage the program. They had books published with the Scouting logo and with the approval of the National Headquarters. This was instituted with the kind of leadership that James E. West had for the program during his tenure.


My understanding of Scouting history has increased by continuing to collect selected series and titles both in Boy Scout fiction and non-fiction. The complete collection would take a larger house and more shelf space than I have and my interest and pocket book does have limits. My collection is now in glass covered shelving that is nice to look at and to remember what it was to find the items. I have driven many miles, met many Scouters, and have friendships with others of like mind. I have expanded my interest into the areas of program that has increased my knowledge in many areas. Scouting is large and has many questions that have lead me down many different paths.


So, that is why I collect the things that I collect. I would rather tell you that while working on the Wolf Cub badge as a youth, one of the requirements was to make a collection of rocks and put them in an egg container or that I worked on a stamp collection as a Scout and later a coin collection because my Aunt let me look through a pile of pennies. I could say that Scouting lead me into collecting patches because of the large number I earned as a Scout; my minister said I looked like a Chinese general. I had started making neckerchief slides because I was taught to whittle at Scout Camp and that turned into a collection because of Whittlin' Jim, of Boys' Life magazine. I later collected some of his slides and a notebook by him to add to the collection(s). I was interested in Pee Wee Harris as a youth and it later lead me to collect the Fitzhugh series.


Last year I attended the Dallas Tradeoree for the, number not remembered, time. It is not held in Dallas but in between Dallas and Ft. Worth near the airport for ease of access. One guy would not negotiate a deal because he could get a better price on the Internet. I was, rightly indignant because this is a people forum and not one for virtual traders. Why didn't the guy stay home on his 'puter? I had to remember that my collection has increased in volume, quality and worth because of the new communications. I should apologize for my thoughts to that guy, maybe he is reading this. I feel that I have lost friends because of the new market place but things change and probably friendships and new friendships are to be made in different ways. I will need to stay tuned.


One fellow exhibited his Order of the Arrow patch collection that he had worked on for years. He ceremoniously added the last and probably the most expensive patch to the collection. He mentioned that his was most probably the only complete collection like it in the world, which also makes it the best in the galaxy and the universe, as far as we now know. My question to myself was still, "Why does someone collect?". FB




(This message has been edited by Fuzzy Bear)

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