When Oliver Jensen joined the Boy Scouts (February/March 1985), the organization was already about sixteen years old, and early growing pains had ceased. I was a Scout in the very first year, before Mr. Jensen was born.
Shortly after the incorporation of the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910, Asa E. Lewis, principal of schools in Dallas, Pennsylvania, wrote to the National Headquarters in New York requesting that a troop he was organizing be registered, and that he be appointed Scoutmaster. National Headquarters, starting with nothing but a little information from the year-old Boy Scouts in England, was proceeding by trial and error. It eventually complied with Lewis’s request, designating the new troop Dallas, Pa., Troop No. 1.
We received the first edition of Handbook for Boys . No official equipment had been authorized at that time. The first item I recall was the pocketknife. It was recommended that tinned-steel canteens, pint cups, mess kits, and cutlery —Army surplus from the Spanish-American War—be purchased locally.
I enclose a picture of the first issue of uniforms. The narrow, light-colored strips at the shoulders supported a small haversack, which proved useless, being too small and painful to carry, and was soon changed. Leggings were of heavy canvas with metal stays, such as the ones women then wore in corsets. Belts were of heavy leather, with rings inserted at the side, and the buckle was a round metal insignia thrust through a slot.
No organization acted as sponsor for our troop. Some local businessmen subscribed funds to buy three twelve-by-fourteen-foot wall tents, but these were too heavy to carry and unsuitable for Scouting. Later, we got some Army surplus pup tents, made in two halves that buttoned together by flaps at the top, which were designed to be carried by two soldiers. We also got Army surplus blankets, which the boys bought individually.
Of all, my most enjoyable Scouting experience was camping during World War II with my two sons, a week at a time, over three successive years on North Mountain in the corner of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The oldest son became an Eagle Scout in Troop 281 in 1944. His two sons became Eagle Scouts in Troop 81 while living in Waterloo, New York.