|Explorer Scout Mark Gresham with the flag for Troop 23 of Apra Heights, Guam, at the Explorer Air Encampment at Tachikawa Air Base near Tokyo, Japan, sometime in the mid- to late 1950s.|
Last weekend the university where I am employed hosted its 25th annual Boy Scout Merit Badge Seminar weekend, and another librarian and I conducted a class for the Reading Merit Badge. That had me digging out some of my husband's Boy Scout memorabilia (thankfully, his mom didn't throw away much). As today is the Boy Scouts' Founders' Day (and World Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts, of which I was a member for over 10 years as a girl and as a leader), it seemed to be a good day to share them.
Mark was in the Boy Scouts and Explorers during much of the time his family lived on Guam. He attained First Class Scout status on April 18, 1955, when he was in the eighth grade. He remembers participating, as an Explorer, at an encampment at Tachikawa Air Base near Tokyo, Japan, pictured above, with the patch from that event pictured below.
|Special event patch for the Explorer Air Encampment at Tachikawa Air Base near Tokyo, Japan|
|Two Boy Scout shoulder insignia for Mark's troop on Guam, the Naval Forces Guam Military Base Strip, and the Apra Heights Community Strip for his Explorers summer uniform, and the "Explorers B.S.A." strip worn above his right pocket.|
Mark also remembers hiking up some mountains in Guam one weekend (about three miles) to a waterfall with a great swimming hole, and camping there overnight. He says his mother, Jewel Moore Gresham (1914-1994), took a frozen steak, wrapped it in waxed paper and then aluminum foil, and gave it to him to put in his backpack. When he got to the campsite, he found some wild onions which he added to the steak, and wrapped them up tight in the foil and cooked them in the coals of the campfire. Everybody else ate sandwiches!
|Mark was the Secretary for his Explorer Post on Guam and wore the insignia pictured above.|
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mark earned the Reading Merit Badge in April 1956. The look of the badge (pictured above) has not changed much since it was created in 1929, although the requirements have evolved to include Internet searches and searching online library catalogs today.
The Swimming Merit Badge dates back to 1911, one of 57 available then. Mark earned this one in March 1956. It's changed quite a bit in design since the one he earned, pictured above. Oddly enough, through 1958 (according to Fred Duersch Jr.'s Green Khaki Crimped-Edge Merit Badges, the badge pictured a female swimmer (as shown here) with white skin and a black suit. Then it changed to a male with pink skin wearing a blue suit, but he's still swimming through air. To earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout, a boy must earn either the Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling merit badge, and since 1970, the badge (with a male swimmer's upper torso, and waves on blue water) has a silver (rather than green) border. According to Duersch, for this badge, "the requirements included demonstrated proficiency in swimming skills such as water safety, entering the water, treading water, and swimming on the surface and underwater correctly using common swimming strokes."
Mark was also in the Boy Scouts when his family lived in Myrtle Grove (January to November 1949) and Pensacola (November 1949 to July 1954) in Florida, while his dad was the supervisor of lithographic printing at the U.S. Naval Air Station Consolidated Printing Plant in Pensacola. He went to the Gulf Coast Council's Camp Big Heart one summer, and was in the Moose Patrol in his troop (and also served as patrol leader).
|Moose Patrol patch - Mark remembers this being his patrol in his troop in Florida and wearing this on his uniform.|
I wish I still had some of my badges, but as the oldest of five children, they were thrown out long ago. All I have are a number of photos, including a couple pictures of me in my Girl Scout uniforms.
© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.