Photographs by Dan Bryant
Remember these? A whimsical look back at some treasures from the past.
Getting from Point A to Point B was easy, even before GPS devices, with your trusty BSA compass—especially the one from today with the mirror that you look into to read the needle while keeping an eye on the trail. But the red-framed, mid-20th century version worked just fine, too.
IT CAME FROM THE ATTIC
Scouting got its own action figures in 1974, when Kenner introduced Steve Scout (climbing) and his friend Bob Scout. They offered boys great fun scaling their High Adventure Scout Base: “a watchtower for danger.”
GONE WITH THE WAND
They supplied the top hat, magic wand, and cape, but Cub Scouts, Den Mothers, and Cubmasters could learn to perform sleight-of-hand from author Francis J. Rigney’s Cub Scout Magic book, which was first published in 1960.
Drop a coin, see a Scout wave his flag on this cast-iron bank from the ’20s. Also a thing of the past: From 1936 to 1976, the BSA recognized Den Mothers with their own patch, this one of mid-’50s vintage.
Cub Scout caps are built to last. This design, in use from 1930 to 1940, features lettering that reads “Cubs BSA.” From 1940 to 1970, the words had changed to “Cub Scouts BSA,” and from 1970 on, the boys have been wearing the familiar baseball-style caps.
BOUND AND GAGS
“The Express,” Syracuse’s All-American running back Ernie Davis, posed for a popular cover story in the October 1960 Boys’ Life. But we bet most boys flipped first to the back page for the jokes in “Think and Grin” or the long-running comic strips such as “Scouts in Action” and “Pee Wee Harris.”
BON APPÉTIT, FROM SANTA
“A real gift inspiration!” read the ad copy in a 1950 Supply Group holiday catalog for this Official Chow Kit. ”Here’s your own personal cutlery outfit in a compact leather case that fits on your belt.” Only $2, so “You and your family will never forget the joys of a Scouting Christmas!”
THEY RACE AMONG US
Wooden race cars rule! And they have since May 15, 1953, when the late Don Murphy founded the pinewood derby in Manhattan Beach, Calif., because his son was too young to participate in the Soap Box Derby.
Heavy, soldier-style Scout jacket, made by Sigmund Eisner from 1910-1932 and by Sweet-Orr from 1932-1941, featured merit badges sewn onto the sleeve from 1911-1927.
NOT FADE AWAY?
Look closely. See if you can make out the drawing (by Gordon Grant) of a Scout waving his campaign hat on this cover of a first edition of The Official Handbook for Boys. No? Well, remember, the book was published in 1911.
If you strapped on this official BSA haversack ca. 1941, you’d notice the “heavy duck of sufficient weight to turn water, … ring attachments on the side for lashing blankets in the ‘horse collar style,’ … and [e]xtra large bellows pocket.” Dimensions: 17 inches high, 13 inches wide, and 4½ inches thick. It weighed 1½ pounds and cost just $2.25.
SEW LONG AGO
It wasn’t called the “khaki pack” (at least, we don’t think it was), but it could have been. A sewing kit from the 1940s contained the usual assortment of safety pins, needles, thread, and buttons, to give any Scout or Scouter a fix for an untimely rip.
SIP SLIDING AWAY
Who would have thought that taking a drink of water could go high-tech? But from the Army-style canteens of the ’30s, to the stremlined version of the ’70s, to the break-resistant and BPA-free Nalgene bottles of today, you can see that your outdoor experience has come a long way
In 1927, Boy Scouts could clip their official flashlight to their belt (far right). By the 1950s, Cub Scouts could slip their flashlight into their shirt pocket. The former was cool because its switch permitted signaling. The latter was cool because it looked like a PEZ dispenser.
International Scouts offer a smiling salute in Norman Rockwell’s painting titled “An Army of Friendship” (1933). From 1925 to 1976, Rockwell painted 50 images for the Brown & Bigelow calendars.