At a weekly meeting of my Boy Scout troop, the scoutmaster called for volunteers to undertake a father-and-son project to improve the scout hut. It was going to be a challenge for me because my dad and I had had very little interaction while I was growing up. He and my mother were separated more than they were together. When he was at home, they argued a lot. Most of the time, he just wasn’t home.
The church gave the scout troop a small building on church property for the exclusive use of the scouts, provided they maintained it and kept it presentable.
Among the projects the scoutmaster had in mind were these:
- Painting the interior of the building
- Painting the exterior of the building
- Building benches for seating
- Building a storage unit for camping supplies
- Making a sign for the front of the hut
My family had recently moved to the area (in an attempt to save the marriage) and I was new to the troop. I wanted to make a good impression, so I volunteered. When I got home and told my parents that my dad and I had to make a sign, they were incensed. Not only was my dad not around much, he wasn’t very handy with tools. I think he owned a hammer.
Over the course of the week, up until the night of the next troop meeting, most of the discussion revolved around how I had to get us out of the project. At the last minute, my mother made a suggestion. She would design a sign, something simple enough that my dad and I could do, and we would make it.
She sketched a board with the ends cut to appear jagged and penciled in the words:
“Boy Scout Troop 18”
“Ridglea Methodist Church”
We could use stained redwood, and tack a length of rope in cursive to form the letters.
I took the sketch to the next scout meeting, it was approved, and the challenge was on. For the next several weeks, we worked on the sign. The cutting and the staining went pretty well; tacking the rope to form the letters was so difficult it almost torpedoed the project. But, with my mother’s help holding rope in place while my dad and I tacked with his hammer, we got it done. The sign was a big hit with the troop, and we proudly nailed it over the front door of the hut.
Time passed, my parents divorced, I married, and my wife and I moved away. After traipsing around the state and half-way around the country, we finally returned to the area. The picture above is the picture I took upon finding the sign still in place after almost 60 years.