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Help solve mystery of old Maine scouts photo

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A 55yr old photo showing Boy Scouts and former heavyweight boxing champs "Jersey" Joe Wolcott and James Braddock was found in a bag of recyclable bottles at Clynk's South Portland, Maine facility last month. The reverse bears the name "Clayton Duplissee." Need help finding owner and names. If you know anything about this photo, email Troy R. Bennett at tbennett@bangordailynews.com



The yellowed, wood-framed 5×7-inch photograph shows six or seven scouts lined up in a pine grove. The top of a tent pokes into the background. A couple of adult men, possibly scout leaders, can also be seen. Two scouts are in wheelchairs. Behind each seated scout is a retired, former world heavyweight boxing champ in a suit and tie.

On the left is James Braddock. The son of Irish immigrants, he won the title in 1934 in a unanimous decision over Max Baer. In 2005, Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger and Paul Giamatti starred in an Oscar-nominated film about Braddock’s life, called “Cinderella Man.”

On the right is “Jersey” Joe Wolcott, who held the heavyweight title from 1951 to 1952. At the time, he was the oldest man ever to win the title, at age 37. Wolcott also refereed the famous, fast and controversial fight between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali in Lewiston in May 1965. Ali knocked Liston out in the first round via a “phantom punch” still talked about today.

According to a 2015 New York Times article, Braddock came to Lewiston to see the match, as well. Cursive writing, in blue, ballpoint pen, on the back of the framed photo reads: “Cerebral palsy Boy Scout camporee, 1965.” It would seem the boxers made a side trip to the campout while they were in Maine for the fight.

Also written on the back is the misspelled name of long-time southern Maine Boy Scout leader Clayton Duplisea.

“Clayton was a scout leader in Portland for a long time,” said Frank Maguire, who knew Duplisea. “I’ve got a picture of Clayton that dates all the way back to 1945. He was old when I was young and he was the scout executive for Portland in the 1920s.”

Maguire, 86, of South Portland, has been involved with the Boy Scouts in Maine since joining as a kid in 1943. He currently serves as a commissioner for the Pine Tree Council.

Maguire said Duplisea, who died in 1993, is the man standing at the far left in the picture.

“He led that cerebral palsy troop in Portland,” Maguire said.

Maguire remembers Duplisea as a fierce advocate for equal access and experience for his troop, all of whom had cerebral palsy.

“Clayton did what he could to help those kids have a [proper Boy Scout] program,” Maguire said. “He was adamant and saw to it that those kids got some attention.”

That included camping, swimming, singing — as well as meeting famous heavyweight champions.

It’s worth noting that the photo was taken 25 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, barring discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. It also was a time when boxing was a much bigger deal than it is today.

Even with Duplisea, Wolcott and Braddock identified in the photo, questions remain: Where has it been hanging all these years, who are the scouts and how did it end up among the returnables at Clynk?

If the picture’s owner can’t be found, Maguire would like to see the photo end up in the historic collection of Maine Boy Scout memorabilia currently warehoused at Camp Hinds in Raymond. He hopes they’ll have a museum for the collection some day.

“We hate to lose stuff like this,” Maguire said. “So often, people just toss stuff out because they don’t know what to do with it.”

If you know anything about this photo, email Troy R. Bennett at tbennett@bangordailynews.com

Edited by RememberSchiff
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