Halloween: A time to cherish memories of those who went before
by Rebecca Johnston
October 27, 2013 12:00 AM | 2084 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Halloween my father would have been 96 years old. While he died almost 25 years ago, occasionally I will come across something from the past about him that seems a little like seeing a ghost.

Since he had the dubious honor of being born on the day we dedicate to the spooky and scary, my grandmother always said the goblins brought him. He was the third and last of her children, 13 years younger than his older brother, and perhaps a surprise to his parents, though I will never know that for sure.

What I do know is that he became my grandmother’s darling, that he was always a fun and loving person and the best father anyone could have had.

Last week, I found his name unexpectedly on a document about the founding of a Boy Scout troop in Canton that is celebrating its 60th anniversary this week.

He was one of the men who signed the request to start the new troop. That didn’t surprise me, although that was before I was born and my dad had any children of his own.

But he would have been supportive of the Boy Scouts, because he was always community minded and because he had been a Scout himself.

The request was also sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Canton where Daddy was always a faithful congregant.

My dad was a Boy Scout in 1932 in Canton. He would have been about 15 years old. He kept a diary that year, the Boy Scout Diary for All Boys.

After meeting with Dan Owen this week and hearing about the search he is making to put together a timeline for the Boy Scouts, I went and dug out the old diary.

It always fascinates me to see the old pencil scribbles and know that my father wrote them so long ago, but his life was pretty simple, if that little book is any real tale.

Most days he just wrote ‘Got up, went to school and delivered newspapers.” He would write the amount he got for his paper route, sometimes a nickel, sometimes 10 cents or even up to 30 cents on the days he did his collections.

Other days he played football or basketball, rowed down the Etowah in a canoe, went somewhere called the Buzzard’s Nest or out to Pettit’s Lake with friends.

But every Saturday evening he went to his Boy Scout meeting. And every Sunday he went to church.

Those were the simple footsteps of routine in a small town for many in those Depression years. Work, church, school, home.

In the front of the diary he lists his Scoutmaster as R.B. Sims and says he was a member of Scout Troop 1.

The phone number for my father’s family was 126 and he lists his father as the person who should be called in case of an accident.

In only three years his father would die young, leaving my dad as the man of the house for the rest of his life, with really no one to depend on but himself.

Perhaps Boy Scouts helped prepare him for that role, those early responsibilities. Perhaps what he learned from that organization about leadership and caring for others made him the man he became. Because he always cared for his family and others in the community.

Maybe what he learned as a Scout helped him negotiate the dark days of tough economic times and having to go to work right out of high school out of necessity.

Scouting skills he learned might have helped him survive the years of World War II when he served in France and Germany in the Army.

I know for sure that my dad always loved the outdoors and he would often organize hikes for my friends and me on Saturday afternoons out the old dirt road across from my house.

He would muster us together and set out on the trails, telling us about the flora and fauna we saw on our journey. He was always patient, too, never seeming to mind if we slowed down or asked too many questions.

When I think about the thousands upon thousands of boys, my own husband among them, who have learned basic skills for life from their experience with Boy Scouts, and the parents who have dedicated themselves to being Scout leaders, I am appreciative.

Yes, I was a Girl Scout, and my dad helped with that, too.

He tried to get me to enjoy camping, but I was a little too prissy for that.

But no matter whether I did well or struggled, he loved me unconditionally. That was just the kind of person he was.

Halloween has many great memories for me, but the most precious thing for me is that it was the day my dad was born.

Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
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