By Richard Mabey Jr.
One of my dearest memories of my dad’s role as a Scoutmaster, was when he presented a scout with the Tenderfoot Scout Badge. Dad only presented scouts with two awards, Tenderfoot Scout and Eagle Scout. One particular Court of Honor, when scouts were presented their new ranks, merit badges and special awards, was in October of 1971. I remember this Court of Honor, so very well.
I had just turned 18, in September of 1971. I had just begun my freshman year of college. At the time, there were not a lot of scout leaders in Boy Scout Troop 170 and my dad asked me if I would help him run the troop. So, in September of 1971, I became an Assistant Scoutmaster.
This was a very special Court of Honor, I was scheduled to present a scout with the Second Class Scout Badge. I was to follow my dad, who presented the Tenderfoot Scout Badge to two scouts. It really was quite a moment in time. The parents of the scout would come forward with their son, to the front of Thorpe Hall, when their son received his new rank. There was something very solemn about it all.
Dad was a very handsome, charismatic man. He had a certain charm about him, weaved with a texture of true humility. He saw his role of Scoutmaster as his humble service to God. He truly did. He deeply believed that, with great conviction, that he was fulfilling his destiny on this earth in his selfless service as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170.
Whenever Dad would present a scout with his Tenderfoot Scout Badge, he did not joke around, he didn’t kid with the scout, he was very solemn. There was almost an air of reverence in his presentation style. There was no doubt that Dad made the new Tenderfoot Scout feel like he was about to become a Five Star General. He would tell the new Tenderfoot that he was receiving an important award, that the scout was about to embark on the scouting trail to Eagle Scout.
I remember this like it was yesterday. As Dad would hand a boy his new Tenderfoot Badge, Dad would say, “I hope to be pinning the Eagle Scout Medal on your uniform, some day.” And, Dad really and truly meant every word of that statement.
Dad was a tough act to follow. Most of the time, I presented scouts with the Second Class Award, which is the next rank up from Tenderfoot. Dad had incredible timing in his speech pattern. He knew the power of the one second dramatic pause. Dad spoke in a certain calm, serene, soothing voice tone. There was such a ring of sincerity in his voice, when he spoke before an audience. He maintained a spirit of dignity, while presenting a scout with the Tenderfoot Badge.
In 1971, most people did not have video cameras. Eight-millimeter movie cameras were still the trend back then. The movie film was costly and so was the developing. There was no way to record the sound to go with the film. And, a roll of eight-millimeter film only lasted about five minutes or so. So, there are no video films of the Troop 170 Court of Honors of the early 1970’s. Something that sadden me.
In memory, I can still hear my beloved father say these words to the new Tenderfoot Scout of Troop 170, “I hope to some day, pin the Eagle Scout Medal on your scout uniform.” I took it all for granted, all those years ago. Now at 66, I’d give an eyetooth to hear my Dad say those words, just one more time. Just one more time.
If your dad is still on this side of Heaven’s Gate, please do seriously consider giving him a call tonight. Not tomorrow, not next week, not when you get around to it. But tonight. Because none of us, have a guarantee that we’ll be up and about, tomorrow morning. Please do call your dad, I wish I could mine.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.