Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hugh N. Collins, Troop 1 Scout (1947-1951)

A box of Scout memorabilia donated to our Troop 1 BSA Unadilla Boy Scout Museum recently at first glance didn’t hold much of interest. The short inventory included two Cub Scout membership cards (1947-1949), a stamped metal Cub Scout neckerchief slide and another leather neckerchief slide embossed B.S.A. CRUMHORN MOUNTAIN 1950. Three Boy Scout membership cards (1949-1951), a Handbook for Boys (fifth edition-June 1948)—all spoke of the typical stuff of a young boy’s hike along the Trail of Scouting in the late 1940s and 1950s. Two boys’ novels, The Banner Scouts On A Tour by “Professor” George Warren and The Boy Scouts in Camp by George Dunston, silently spoke of his reading interests. A 1950s-style aluminum cook kit, a knife-fork-spoon set stamped “stainless steel Japan” and a little aluminum B.S.A. Bantam Lite mini-flashlight were all indicative of his personal camping gear of the time.

We were somewhat puzzled by a painted tuna-fish can and wood handle “liberty torch” until we remembered the National BSA theme in 1950 was "Strengthen The Arm of Liberty” This item might have been a handmade prop for a den skit at a pack meeting.

The box also contained Hugh’s 1948 Certificate of Completion in the Unadilla 4H Rotary Poultry Club for raising poultry, a pair of tickets for the 1950 New Mexico vs. Army game at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and two little carved wooden plaques—one of a duck and the other of what might be a cowboy hat. The rank and membership cards, the handbook, and many of the other items are marked “Hugh N. Collins, 34 Fellows Street, Unadilla, NY, Troop #1." A check of the Troop 1 Book of Names shows Hugh first joined the troop in 1949 (after two years as a Cub Scout in Pack 1) when his father Ernest M. Collins became the Scoutmaster (and explains why a small folder with a card detailing “The Scoutmaster’s Job” was also found in the box.) Hugh continued with the troop through 1951 when he reached 2nd class. But his father was replaced as Scoutmaster that year by Arthur Sommers, who was Assistant Scoutmaster the previous year. Hugh and his father do not appear in Troop 1 records after 1951.

The vast bulk of Scouting items, like most of Hugh’s items, exist to recognize a Scout for his accomplishments in Scoutcraft, to engender feelings of kinship with other Scouts similarly outfitted, and to assist in the practice of his or her Scouting. Everything pertaining to Scouting can be collected—cloth and metal insignia, uniforms and awards, and extends to handbooks and advancement pamphlets, postage stamps, magazines, camping equipment issued by a national Scout organization, photographs, coffee mugs, and other items—but we think the items that tell a story are the most interesting.

Our museum houses and displays Scouting items that chronicle the hundred year story of Scouting in Unadilla to the members of our troop and preserve our legacy for museum visitors in the future. None of Hugh’s items are especially valuable as collectibles, but in the story they tell of one young Unadilla Scout’s experience in “
America’s Centennial Boy Scout Troop,” they are priceless.

Our thanks go to Carl Staff and his wife for donating Hugh Collins’ Scout items to the Unadilla Troop 1 Museum. Donald Tuttle, Troop 1 Historian. 04.02.10

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