Posts Tagged ‘books’


Boy Scout NovelsSaturday, May 3rd, was free comic book day so I went to St. Cloud to pick up a few at Granite City Comics. I arrived downtown early to get a good parking spot so I decided to walk around to get some exercise and to see what kind of stores were in downtown St. Cloud these days. After all, I had not been shopping downtown for years. There has been no need for me to go downtown since this was on the east side of town and most of the big stores and shopping malls were on the west side of town, closer to where I live.

While I was walking the streets I noticed that there was a used bookstore a block away from the comic book store. I did not realize there was such a store in the downtown area so I decided I needed to check this place out when I was done at Granite City Comics. And I did.

There were two main types of books I looked for once I arrived at the used book store, science fiction and old Scouting books. I was lucky enough to find two old Boy Scout themed novels written in the early 1900′s. Both were in pretty good shape considering that they were over 100 years old. One was The Boy Scouts Of The Eagle Patrol written by Howard Payson, published in 1911. The other was Boy Scouts In An Airship by G. Harvey Ralphson, published in 1912. I was able to pick up the two of them for under twenty dollars.

As I laid them on the counter I thought to myself, I hope I do not already have these books. I could not remember if they were already part of my collection or not. Oh well, if they were I would now have two of them. I could always use one as a prize at a Scout Roundtable or something. I was happy to discover when I arrived at home that I did not own either one yet. I also discovered that I have the ebook version of The Boy Scouts Of The Eagle Patrol on my computer.

Do you collect old Boy Scout novels? How many do you have? Where do you find them?

I know there have been quite a few books written about that magical place we Scouters know as Philmont Scout Ranch. I own a few of them. Four to be precise. Here is a quick description of each of them.

Return To The Summit Of Scouting is “A Scouter’s midlife journey back to Philmont” written by William F Cass. It follows Mr. Cass’ return to Philmont as an advisor and father after having left the ranch as a summer staffer over two decades earlier. Not only does the book follow the expedition of him and his son, but it also gives great nice in-depth outlook from the staff and rangers point of view. This book was first printed in April, 1993.

Head For The High Country was written by David L. Caffey and published in 1973. Mr. Caffey was a member of the Philmont Scout Ranch staff for several seasons. He is also an Eagle Scout and has received the Vigil Honor in the Order of the Arrow. The book covers the five years he spent working on the staff in various camps around the ranch.

The oldest Philmont-themed book in the collection is The Tooth Of Time, A Philmont Adventure, written by the radio scoutmaster the 1940′s, Gray Sterling. This book was published in 1955. I picked up my copy at a used book store which must have received it from a library because it still has the sign out card on the back cover. I have not read it yet but when I skimmed it for this article I noticed it may be a fictional account of a Scout crew’s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. I also noticed one more thing today. The book appears to have the author’s signature on the first page of the book, under his picture. Cool.

Beyond The Hills, The Journey of Waite Phillips, written by Michael Wallis, is really not about Philmont Scout Ranch. It is about the life of Waite Phillips, the man who donated to land to the Boy Scouts of America. It is a fascinating book that belongs in any collection of Philmont-themed books. This book does contain a lot of photos.

The final two books, The Scoutmaster and The Scoutmaster II, are not actually books about Philmont. They are written by scoutmaster Jim Boeger who was one of two excellent instructors for Scoutmaster’s Fundamentals, a course I took at the Philmont Training Center in 1984. The books are about Mr. Boeger’s experiences as a scoutmaster. (By the way, he is 6′-9″ tall, which brings some unique experiences to the Scouting table.) The first chapter about his first experience going on a camping trip with a troop of Boy Scouts had me laughing out loud. Mr. Boeger did sign my copy of The Scoutmaster before I left Philmont.

What Philmont-themed books do have own? Do you have any suggestions for us. or a special book perhaps? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

100 Days of Scouting: Day 84.

Pee-Wee Harris BooksThe Reading Merit Badge was introduced to the Boy Scouts of America advancement program in 1925. Boys already had plenty of reading material at that time, including books about fictional Boy Scouts named Tom Slade, Roy Bakely, and Pee-Wee Harris.

I own five of the original Pee-Wee Harris novels, and they are the feature of this week’s Memorabilia Monday. A few were found in used book stores. The rest were picked up through online sites like eBay.

I am happy to be able to include these books as part of my Scouting memorabilia collection. Even though they are books about fictional characters, they give us a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1900′s, nearly one hundred years ago. It was a world without video games, cell phones, the internet, and television. Boys made their own adventures instead of buying a pre-made one in a store.

The Pee-Wee Harris books are now in the public domain. Many of them are available as free electronic versions through sites like Amazon, Google Books, and Project Gutenburg. Download them for your iPad, Kindle, or Nook. I have already downloaded them even though I still need a device on which to read them. Until then, I will read them the “old school” way, through the printed hardback versions.

100 Days of Scouting: Day 42.