Monday, May 18, 2009

Delano: Boy Scout Memories

The post below is a repeat. I first published it in my blog in April 2007. Delano was one of the characters I got to know working for the Boy Scouts. He was the scoutmaster of the Mormon Troop in Tabor City, but lived in Pireway, down near the Waccamaw River. This weekend, his second cousin found my first post via google and noted that he'd like to see the photos I had of Delano. I couldn't find the photo I'd shot of him chopping wood. I know it appeared in the Whiteville NC newspaper, probably in 1982 or 83. Here are two pictures of Delano that was not in the original post. In the second shot, he's with his son. The man on the left is Harold, the scoutmaster for the other troop in Tabor City. It was at an Eagle Court of Honor. I think those two boys were the first Tabor City scouts in 20 years to receive their Eagle. One day, I'll write memories of Harold, as he was another good friend of an age gone by. The last photo is of me (pardon the quality of the photos).

According to his cousin who wanted to see the photos, Delano died in 2004. "He was one of the most happy and full of life people I ever knew," he wrote. Click here to see the original post.


What are those government fools thinking, offering classes to teach us how to make alcohol? There ain’t a farmer in these parts that haven’t made liquor at one time or another,” Delano fumed.It was in the early 80s and after years of prosecuting farmers for turning corn into liquids, a lively discussion was being held with how to do this legally, for internal combustion as opposed to internal consumption. If the farmers made their own, they could reduce their dependence on gasoline and diesel fuel. The local community college offered a course on alternative fuels, but Delano didn’t think much of the idea. The government was meddling where it shouldn’t be meddling. His views weren’t a surprise; everyone in Columbus County complained about the government meddling, except of course when they were first at the hog trough. However, his admission on the moonshining activities of area farmers surprised me. Did he include himself in the bunch? After all, he was a Mormon and the scoutmaster for a small Mormon troop in southern part of the county. Mormons weren’t supposed to be drinking. But then, neither were Baptist and those in that area who weren’t Mormon were members of one the several off-brand Baptist Churches. A part of me always wanted to know what went on in the “Primitive, Fire-baptized, Fundamentalist Baptist Church,” but I never got up the nerve to find out.
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Even though he marched to his own drum, I loved Delano. There was never a dull moment when he was around. He was always smiling and joking. Living out on the edge of the Green Swamp, down near the Waccamaw River, Delano could be counted on to tell a story that included hunting and fishing how-to tips. Like his neighbors, Delano supplemented his livelihood from the bounty of the earth and would entertain us telling about the tricks of his neighbor. He never indicted himself, but one had to wonder. One favorite was dialing for fish (using an old crack phone to create an electrical charge that races through the water and stuns the fish so that when they come to the surface you can net ‘em). To hear him tell the story, nobody in his neighborhood purchased canned dog food to feed to canines. Dogs got scraps from the table. Canned dog food was used to chum the waters for fish. Holes were punched in a can that was tossed into the water at a spot where you wanted to fish in a day or two. The dog food attracted fish so that when you came back for business, you didn’t have to spend much time finding the fish. You just had to hope the fish, fat on dog food, were ready to bite into a juicy worm.I met Delano at a chicken bog for scout leaders held in Fair Bluff. Having been told he was a Mormon, I made sure we had alternatives to the coffee and tea that everyone else would be drinking. I’d gotten a couple bottles of apple juice and offered him one. He refused and poured himself a cup of coffee. At this same event, I was troubled when I learned that a chicken bog contained not only fowl, but also sausage. Realizing that we had several Jewish leaders, I apologized. What little training I’d had from the scouts by this point had stressed sensitive to such issues. But sausage wasn’t a problem, these guys assured me, as long as their wives weren’t around. I’m sure the same applied to Delano’s coffee and soft drinks and most other leaders who indulged in one thing or another.
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Delano was a disabled veteran of the Korean War. He once told me about his experiences there. I don’t recall much of what he said, but there was a story about a small group of them lost behind enemy lines and struggling to make it back to safety, surviving minefields, frostbite and starvation. Although he could walk and get around, he wasn’t particularly fast and was limited in the amount of work that he could do (although I do remember him splitting wood with a maul one Saturday when several troops got together to take firewood to people in need). We got along well; both of us believed that when camping, an afternoon nap was a necessity. He had a small but devoted group of scouts who looked up to him and knew that he looked out for their best interest. At camporees, where all the troops in the county gathered, Delano made a point to invite me to eat Saturday dinner with his boys. Sometimes the fare would be normal, venison or fried fish. Other times the menu was down right exotic. In the three years I worked that district, I was served bear, squirrel, turtle, raccoon, and even a greasy opossum.




I came across many characters during my three years working for the Scouts in Eastern North Carolina. I cherish these memories. It’s hard to accept the fact that the boys who were in scouts at the time are now in their 30s. “Oh my,” as they say down there, “how time flies.”

15 comments:

  1. It's a great thing when we remember the people who have crossed our journey. Them that I have always considered to be odd or off the mainstream are them that have had the greatest impact.

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  2. Without people like Delano, life is far less interesting. I'm so glad you had someone so special in your life. The kind that add their own unique facet to the prism.

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  3. It's a special feeling to have someone special in ones life.
    Nice write.
    Thank you for your warm visit. I am glad that you liked the colours. Yes, I did.:)

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  4. Kenju, couldn't you have said, "you were such a handsome young man?" LOL

    Walking guy, There are a lot of good people I've ran across... That photo reminds me of my need to write a piece about Harold

    Stephanie, I like the idea of folks like Delano adding their "unique facet to the prism."

    Venus, You are a talented artist, beautiful paintings to go with your poems.

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  5. Sage: I remember this special post! Thank you for republishing it!

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  6. Delano sounded like quite a character. It makes you wonder why he took such a stand for making your own liquor (being a Mormon and all), but then he did turn down your apple juice for coffee, didn't he? :)

    Btw, I can't believe you ate greasy opposum. Even in fricassée, I couldn't do it!

    PS - Nice photos!!

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  7. What a neat story, and memories of a fascinating man. I'm always amazed how people like that stand out from so many others. Scouting is great... our son is half way through cub scouts right now and seems to really enjoy it.

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  8. Sounds like a great guy. Although I'm opposed to people becoming less dependent on diesel.

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  9. Wow, we had nothing like that in brownies!

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  10. You were so adorable :) Delano sounds memorable. Times flies way too fast

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  11. Drat! Kenju stole my comment.

    Everytime you do this, I always think I should re-post some of my older posts, but then I never do. Maybe this time I will, especially as I seem to be having a hard time posting anything new more than once a week.

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  12. Very Cute!!! Yes time flies way too quickly. And I cannot believe how far behind I have gotten here. Again, where does the time go?

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