Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Old Scouts Never Die, They Just Lose Their Comic Books

This is another photo that needs its own blog post. I wrote last night to my tent buddy from my first Philmont Trek in 1971. We were pen pals for a while in the 70's but we lost contact as adulthood came and other interests took us. My friend stayed true to his gift becoming a writer and publisher of underground comix! I'm still searching for my gift. But my life is good and I love my family.
My friend third from right, back row. And me - kid on the back far right.

My Dad set me up on this first trek. We had been to the Philmont Training Center as a family in 1966. He had his inter-Council contacts and got me in with a group leaving from the Tacoma Council. I didn't know anybody but it was great adventure: San Francisco (where we only lost one Scout), Disneyland (where we got Mickey to break character because we were in our uniforms and the guy had to tell us he had been a Scout - almost Eagle but couldn't pass lifesaving merit badge - that was the killer in those days). Oh, but I got lost in Disneyland. We also saw the Grand Canyon and followed around a group of Girl Scouts. We stayed on a lot of hard gym floors at military bases including Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque where little did I know, my future father-in-law was working next door at Sandia Labs. On the way back we visited the Air Force Academy and Temple Square in SLC. The Oregon State Police stopped our bus in the Gorge as one kid had his Wyoming fireworks displayed in the window. OSP let us go when our leaders explained we were going on to Washington.

Partnering up with my tent buddy solidified our friendship. It was rough for me just turning fourteen right there the first night out at Lovers' Leap Camp. We were sea-level boys and the high desert into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was hot and hard on us. But we made the trek. I've been back into the Philmont high country a few times since and I always love going to those places I went that first time at some considerable effort - Beaubien, Cimarroncito, Fish Camp (wait! I've never been back to Fish Camp!)

My friend and I kept up a correspondence through high school. He was my inspiration for rebellion as I briefly adopted his straight-leg-jeans-white-shirt dress code. As I've explained elsewhere, it was sort of a geeky anti-hippie rebellion. But he was a genuine liberal guy. It was probably his influence that started me on that slippery-slope to reject conservatism in all its republican (and worse) forms.

He's not on Facebook. And I've tried to track him down before through one of his comix websites. His comix are everywhere on the interwebs and yet he remains somewhat a recluse, as I think he was as a teen. I mean he took the heretical view to promote DC Comics over Marvel. But then it was that brief time that Jack Kirby was over at DC. That was the Golden Age of relevant hipness in mainstream comics.

This time I thought I had him at an e-mail address where he appeared to be a Washington State Librarian (the State, not the Ag. College in Pullman). That would fit. But that e-mail was sent back as a failed delivery. I did find a PO Box that seems to be current at his old home town. And I did find him on a YouTube video. I hope he doesn't mind if I share it here. Yeah. I hope he writes back again! He's still a cool guy as of 2012 teaching kids how to make their own comics.


  1. What a trip to see that old photo. Joe Hubbard is the guy on the far right front row. The boy who was 4th from right top row was named Steve Sanchez, I believe.

    I recall the bus broke down in Blythe, California for a couple hours where the temp was 119 degrees. That was fun. Somewhere in Arizona the police pulled the bus over and searched for a fugitive from justice. I still have some mica I picked up on our hike.

    Such beautiful country down there in New Mexico. It was a great adventure. As you know, up here in rural western Washington State we live in a big shag rug, surrounded by an evergreen jungle and covered with constant rain and overcast. But down in The Land of Enchantment the sky was huge and the air was thin. Seems to me I even had a nosebleed at one point. I think the alien landscape really had a profound impact on both of us at that time. I left the Scouts right after that trip but for reasons that had nothing to do with Philmont.

    The thing about Scouts I always enjoyed was the hiking and camping in the Olympic Mountains. But my troop had an influx of Army and Air Force dads and their idea of an outing was to bus us out to Fort Lewis or McChord Air Force Base where we watched mock battles, and sat in tanks or the cockpits of jets. "That uniform you are wearing now is OK, son," the military guys told us, "but soon you'll wearing the real thing." So I split.

    Little did I know the future impact of our political discussions as we tried to define ourselves at that awkward age! In 1970s-1980s I was very active as a Democrat but as time went on I stepped back from party politics and declared myself an independent. In the late 1980s-1990s I was very involved with municipal politics here in our little town, which came to a head when I ran a cartoon character, Morty the Dog, for Mayor in 1999 as a write-in candidate in order to campaign in favor of an environmentalist zoning issue also up before the voters. Morty only got about 5% of the vote (so I'm told), but the zoning issue passed so I was happy. Since then I have backed away from political activity, well, almost.

    As Fate would have it, the last dozen years of my career were spent in a library that was under the control of elected officials-- both Republicans! It was very illuminating to hear the modern Republican side of various issues, but I was not converted. My Dad was a Republican, but he was a Goldwater libertarian type. Nixon and Reagan drove him away, between their criminal acts and the evangelical backing. Dad loved Ross Perot in the 1990s and never returned to the Republican Party.

    Yes, I am pretty much more of a hermit than ever these days. I belong to no social media groups, as you have ascertained. Now retired from public service for over a year and quite happy. I'll send you a more detailed email.

    1. Great to hear from you, Steve! Don't be a Hermit! (Well, it's OK, really)


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