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REMEMBER WHEN: 100+ years of Andalusia Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is the largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States with 2.3 million youth members and approximately 889,000 adult volunteers (Wikipedia). It was inspired by and modeled on the Boy Scouts Association established in Great Britain in 1908. BSA was founded in America in 1910.

     Gail Wise Savage has announced to her friends and locals that the Mark Saxon Wise Scout Hut on East Three Notch Street built and dedicated in August 1984 is no longer in use. Sister of the late Eagle Scout Mark Saxon Wise who the building was named for, Savage has been notified that the scout hut building is no longer in use so the electricity has been turned off. This is heart-breaking news to her, her family, and so many families of former scouts in Andalusia and beyond who were part of the local scouting program over a period of many years. Funds for the scout hut were donated by Mr. and  Mrs. Saxon Wise in 1981 shortly after their son’s untimely death from cancer in 1980. Wise was a senior at Auburn University only a few months away from being graduated. 

     I received a phone call from Gail Savage, my former AHS school classmate, who asked me to research the history of the Boy Scouts in Andalusia.  Let me share some of what I discovered in the old newspapers.

     The Andalusia Star – November 6, 1914 – “Boy Scouts have organized at Andalusia with a membership of fourteen.”

     February 2, 1915 – “The Andalusia troop of Boy Scouts has been organized only a short time. We have twenty fine boys enrolled in the Tenderfoot examination.  Some five or six have passed the second class examination. Two hikes (a day each) into the woods have been made. The boys are encouraged to govern themselves with merely the oversight of the scout master. Good has already come from the troop’s organization,  and we trust for more. C. N. Wharton, Scout Master.”

     The Boy Scouts started making news in 1914. Lots of activities were reported over the next few years such as camping expeditions, hikes, ballgames with the Opp scouts, and camp-outs at Clear Pond.

     An April 1921 article reads, “Andalusia citizens have seen more strenuous clean-up work done this week than ever before in the same length of time. Vacant lots that were eye-sores have been made to present a nice appearance. Church lots, alleys, and the space back of stores and business houses have been cleaned up by the battles waged against filth by the Boy Scout patrol and the Camp Fire Girls. Wagon-load after wagon-load of trash – we have never seen anything like it. Everyone is determined to help Andalusia win the prize of the cleanest city. Remember that cleanliness is next to godliness so help clean up your premises.”

     In May 1921, the newspaper reads, “The Camp Fire Girls with Mrs. T. E. Henderson and the Boy Scouts assisted by their leaders Professor L. E. Brown, Mr. Lucene Pendrey, Mr. Sidney Waits, Dr. R. I. Kearley, and Mr. J. G. Scherf left their businesses and worked with the scouts every day. Our court square and paved streets are now clean. Thanks are now extended to all of these for the hard work done and the spirit shown in making Andalusia a cleaner city. The Eagle Patrol won first prize.”

     September 1921 – “The Andalusia Boy Scout Troop under the leadership of Scout Master Lucene (“Luke”) Pendrey left this afternoon for an outing of several days at Open Pond.”

     Numerous articles begin appearing in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1921, 1922, and 1923 of the active Boys Scouts troop that appeared to be sponsored by the Kiwanis Club. In December 1921, the news reads, “ANDALUSIA KIWANIS CLUB WILL ARRANGE SCOUT DAY PROGRAMThirty Boy Scouts of Andalusia will be guests of Kiwanians for ‘Scout Day’ when the club will have as its guests the scouts. Kiwanian Rev. Robert Woodson who is a scout master, is chairman of the program.”

     February 1922“BOY SCOUTS TO HAVE ESSAY CONTEST ON ‘WHY I AM A SCOUT’ – Winning essay to be printed in The Star and useful prize also to be given”

     April 1922“ALL ANDALUSIA IS OBSERVING PROGRAM OF CLEAN-UP WEEK – CAMP FIRE GIRLS AND BOY SCOUTS HELPING Monday is house cleaning day. Tuesday is designated as the day for cleaning back yards, lanes, and lots. Wednesday is front yard and sidewalk day. Lawns are to be mowed and chickens, cows, pigs, and animals running out are to be fenced and penned in. Flowers are urged to be planted on borders and beds and vines on ugly places. Waste trash in street is to be gathered up. Thursday is stores, restaurants, markets, offices, buildings, barber shops, courthouse, jail, and other city buildings day. Friday has been set aside as the day for cleaning up the public square, depots, and grounds in rear of store buildings. Saturday is cemetery day. All citizens have been urged to assist in the work here. Trash wagons are on duty each day cleaning the streets and hauling away trash. On Sunday Andalusians are asked to go to church, make special prayers, and give thanks for cleaner homes and a cleaner city.”

     Excerpts in April 1922 from one of the Boy Scout essays“WHY I AM A SCOUTI feel it is a duty to God and my country to prepare myself for the citizen of tomorrow. Scouting teaches – To develop a strong and healthy body in order to be ready to meet friend or foe; To learn more about the surroundings of life; To learn to be useful in accidents; To learn to know and love my country; To learn to be obedient to whom obedience is due; To learn to be loyal to all whom I have obligations; To learn to be courteous; To have a polite language and to be polite to women, children, old people, and the weak; To learn to have respect for myself and others; To learn to be faithful to my God and my country; To learn to be cheerful for it is the Scout’s duty to be sunshine makers of the world; To learn to be kind to animals. I am a Scout because a Scout stands up for the cleanest, the best, and the right, and because I want to ‘Be Prepared’ for all times.”  Joe Norris

     August 1922 – “Open Pond is much astir this week for some twenty or more of Andalusia Boy Scouts constituting Troop No. 1 with four patrols are there, and from all reports, they’re having a ripping good time. They also plan to visit Blue Pond not a great distance from camp. In the course of the outing, these husky lads will stage swimming and diving contests. In addition, each of them will be given first-hand experience and tips on real out-of-door and camp life.”

     February 1923 – “The local Scout troop has been one of the most active and efficient in the state, and announcements will be made from time to time as to their plans and activities in the future. At their regular meeting last Friday night which was the farewell meeting with their retiring Scout Master Robert S. Woodson, the local troop selected R. B. Sims, Educational Director of the Baptist Church as their new leader and Dr. E. L. Gatlin and Oscar Duggar, Jr., as assistant Scout Masters.”

     April 17, 1923 – “With their usual energy and under the leadership of Mrs. Mamie Elizabeth (Bellingrath) Burnett, the ladies of the Civics Club began Monday morning to make Clean-Up Week in Andalusia better than it had ever been before. By Saturday night, everyone was almost exhausted but happy with the satisfaction of work well done. Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls aided in the clean-up in the center of town. The general improvement was marvelous.” 

     “The town authorities lent all the resources at their command for the whole week. Householders crowded the wagons with rubbish and trash; leaves were burned; fences fixed; everything was made spic and span. The old trash dump within the town limits was abandoned as being an unsatisfactory place, and a new place arranged in a deep gully below the Everage Store on River Falls Road. The parade of the younger children with their slogan, ‘Clean Up – Keep It Up’ was very effective.”

     “With a few notable exceptions, everyone entered into the spirit of work and did their part to make the work effective. Public Spirit is a rare and precious quality which must ‘be born’ within a man like an old time conversation, as in all revivals, some few are too stubborn to yield, and always there are a few ‘back-sliders.’ Andalusia on Saturday night was the prettiest and cleanest town in Alabama. Let us keep it such all summer and win the coveted prize.” 

     April 1923“MATERIAL AND SITE FOR SCOUT SHACK DONATEDThe Horse Shoe Lumber Company will donate the lumber, dressed and cut, to order for the erection of the Boy Scout shack estimated to total 12,000 board feet according to the statement of Kiwanians. Col. C. A. O’Neal is a joint owner with Col. E. L. More of the River Falls lumber company and members of the Kiwanis Club committee to select and procure the site for the Scout shack and arrange for the material looking to its erection.” 

     “This report also included the reading of the lease of approximately six acres of land in which grantors are O. L. Benson and H. Stanley of River Falls. Every privilege necessary for the erection of buildings, playgrounds, and other facilities for amusement and recreation of the boys along with right of way are granted for so long as the organization cares to use this property for this purpose.”    

     “The (Kiwanis) Athletic Committee was instructed to consider the matter of recommending a benefit baseball game between the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs in the near future.”

     June 22, 1923 – “A large part of the lumber and supplies have been hauled and carpenters are already at work on the one-story shack that is being erected on the property of the Andalusia Brick Company, a deed to which plat has been given the Boy Scouts of Andalusia. With the service of Roy May, progressive farmer residing near the site, and member of the Kiwanis Club which organization is sponsoring the shack movement, this building will be completed. The clean-up and beautifying campaign will be put on by the Boy Scouts, and a formal dedication will be given at which time a special program will be presented.”

     July 13, 1923“IMPRESSIVE OCCASION AT CAMP KIWANEE WHEN BOY SCOUT TROOP RECEIVES HANDSOMELY APPOINTED SHACK: CAMP FIRE GIRLS AND KIWANIANS AND FRIENDS ENJOY PICNIC AND PROGRAM – Enjoyable to the fullest extent, eventful because of its future significance and impressive because of a dream of long duration was realized.”

     “Such an occasion was indulged on Thursday at twilight down at ‘Camp Kiwanee’ where the Andalusia Kiwanis Club, Troop No. 1 of the Boy Scouts, and their two score and more of guests including the Camp Fire Girls withdrew for the dedication of the handsome and delightfully appointed Boy Scout Shack. A fish fry was prepared and enjoyed by the scouts under the direction of Scout Master R. B. Sims. Everyone arrived at the camp site three and one-half miles from Andalusia on the Andalusia Brick Company tract after 5 p.m.”

     “Strains of ‘America’ filled the air after which Rev. H. C. Threadgill gave the invocation. President T. Baron Gibson of the Kiwanis Club was happy in his words of welcome to all present as he referred to the occasion at hand as the happiest in the history of the club inasmuch as it commemorated the realization of their greatest dream as a club since inception. Kiwanian Bob Reid was then heard in his appreciation to Messrs. O. L. Benson and Hal Stanley who deeded the site for a  minimum cost of $1.00 to the Boy Scouts of Andalusia; to the Horse Shoe Lumber Co. for their generosity of the lumber; to the Kiwanis committee composed of C. A. O’Neal, T. G. Conner, and J. T. Brown for their untiring efforts toward the assembling of all the materials after selection and procuring the site.”

     “The advice given to the happy youth there assembled to receive the handsome gift by Past President A. L. Rankin was, ‘Avoid bad company and strive to make your associations and friendships uplifting, and so seek to become useful citizens.’ Patrol leader William Albritton accepted the shack for the troop of Boy Scouts. In his address, it was promised that the boys will so use the shack as to better enable them to fill the after role of citizenship.”

     “Scout Master R. B. Sims compared the significance of the Kiwanis motto ‘We Build’ and the Scout motto ‘Be Prepared’ and gave added emphasis for the gracious gift just presented and dedicated to them. The inspiring meeting closed with everyone standing while the scouts repeated their oath.”

          “There is a history in all men’s lives,” Shakespeare penned. There is a history in the Boy Scouts of Andalusia, and this is the brief story of the organization’s beginnings as well as can be determined from old local newspaper accounts. The story continued for many more years. Untold number of Andalusia boys went on to great successes in their lives due in part to the influence of the Boy Scouts program led by capable volunteers and with their family’s support. There are bound to be Boy Scouts still living who know much more about those continuing activities of the troops in later years. I would not be surprised at all if these “scout alums” should want to plan a “century plus” commemorative celebration event soon so they can all Remember When and share their memories, experiences, and adventures that added the ‘Be Prepared’ spirit to their lives. What a difference those boys and their leaders made to our community!  A display of Boy Scout artifacts and memorabilia at the Three Notch Museum would be appropriate to preserve that part of Andalusia history

     Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, seamstress of grandsons’ Boy Scout patches, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.