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 A teacher in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.A student in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.

aCentury
ofChange
the 20th Century

African American Scout Troops
Steelton, PA

 

The following article was made possible by the Friends of Midland organization, which contributed photographs, information and primary research materials from their archives.  Originally formed to rescue and rehabilitate the historic Midland Cemetery, the Friends of Midland also have an interest in local African American history, including the Hygienic School and Steelton's African American churches, community groups, daily life and organizations.  They are very interested in hearing from former students of the Hygienic School, former residents, and anyone interested in Steelton's African American history, and can be contacted at the following address:
Friends of Midland, P. O. Box 7442, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-0442.
E-mail:  Friends of Midland  or view the Homepage

Group portrait of African American scout troop, Steelton, Pennsylvania.  Click for the entire image.

Boy Scout Troop 107, Steelton

The photograph to the left came from the collection of Mr. Moore of Steelton, Pennsylvania.  It depicts a group portrait of a boy scout troop in Steelton from several decades ago.

The photograph has been retouched to remove some tears, and the image at left is only a portion of the picture.  Click on the image for the full photograph.

Troop 107 was organized in 1941 by Mr. John E. Hughes of 406 Ridge Street.  Mr. Hughes was the scoutmaster and the troop was "sponsored by the 1st Baptist Church of Steelton, Rev. E. L. Green, pastor." (John B. Yetter, Steelton, Pennsylvania: Stop - Look - Listen, 1979, p. 135.)

Florence Rowe wrote to identify the troop as #107, and she provides the following identifications for the scouts:
"
Rear Row: Alfred Washington, Richard Garnett, Henry Robinson, Albert Branch.
"In front of Alfred Washington is Penrose Johnson, and in front of Albert Branch is Isaac Johnston."
(Email correspondence, Florence Rowe to Afrolumens Project, subject "Boy Scout and Girl Scout Photos," June 28, 2005)

Ed Dornell of State College added more identifications and some wonderful reminiscences of his time in the troop:

"From the enlarged photograph of Boy Scout Troop 107 the following are some additional names of those depicted: Top row beside Scout Master Albert Branch is John Robinson, Philip Clark, and Robert Hill. Front row beside Isaac Johnston is Ernest Johnson, Ike Hill, and Charles Lawson.

"To the best of my knowledge, John Hughes was the first scout master of troop 107. He was a very proud man with a lot of vision. During The Second World War, he directed his troop to collect scrap metal and old newspapers which were sold to purchase a truck, which allowed for even larger amounts of scrap to be collected. This material was then sold to purchase a school bus, making 107 the only scout troop in south central Pennsylvania with its own transportation. People were always wide eyed and amazed when we arrived in our big yellow bus to compete in soft ball games and other scouting activities. Troop 107 was largely responsible for clearing the property near Halifax, PA which became the YMCA's ' Camp Inglenook'. The troop spent two weeks sleeping in tents and fighting off snakes to clear the area for the construction of cabins. Mr Hughes was a tough taskmaster, he once took troop 107 on a march/hike from Steelton to Lancaster a distance of some thirty miles. Miscreants were treated to a punishment know as ' paddy-whacks', where the offender had to run through a gauntlet of troop members who used their web Boy Scout belts to inflict as many hits as possible. Mr. Hughes had been awarded the 'Silver Beaver Metal' for some scouting achievement. He proudly wore this emblem as if it was the Congressional Metal of Honor. In addition to the Boy Scout motto of 'Be Prepared' Mr. Hughes had a motto for 107, 'Second to None'!! Although I never rose to a scouting level beyond 'Tender Foot' I am still proud to have been a member of John Hughes' Troop 107."
Edwin Dornell, State College, PA

(Email correspondence, Ed Dornell to Afrolumens Project, subject "Steelton Boy Scout Troop 107," July 13, 2005)

Eugene Allen, USAF Retired, of Columbia, South Caroline, writes:

"Following are some of my recollections of Steelton Boy Scout Troop 107. It is appropriate that the first stanza of our troop song was (as I remember):

We are the boy scouts of 107,
We are the boy scouts of 107;
We are the boy scouts of 107
Service will our motto be....."
"Perhaps someone, whose memory is better than mine, can fill in the blanks. As the vault of memories is unlocked, I'm sure others will send info which will be helpful in creating a word picture of our 'yester-years.'

"As information, several of us tried to create a "geezer troop" here in South Carolina to accommodate other "hormone casualties" of scouting. The rules of Boy Scouts, unfortunately, do not provide for such a thing and our request was turned down. The guiding thought was that we would complete the merit badge requirements so that we could qualify for Eagle Scouts. By so doing, we wanted to complete something important that we had dropped out of during our formative years.

[Regarding the photograph] "I recognize Alfred Washington, Ronald McKamey's brother, as the person on the left of the top row. Some of the others look familiar but I am unable to associate a name with the face.

"Some more of my memories of troop 107 are:

  • We were a singing group. In addition to the usual scouting activities, Mr.. Hughes used to have us singing at different church functions in the area...Black and White. Having a bus made us arrive in style!!
  • Van Hawkins made Eagle Scout which was a major achievement. I got as far a Life but during that time, I discovered girls. In the battle between raging hormones and the next step in scouting, hormones won out.
  • Ronald McKamey and I were Den Chiefs over a cub pack. The Den Mother was a lady who lived in the house across the alley from the American Legion Home on Ridge Street.
  • Teet Camak was Mr. Hughes' assistant. The First Baptist Church was our sponsor.
  • In May 1946 (around Memorial Day) the Susquehanna River went on one of it's "annual" rampages. Mr.. Hughes and some of us scouts rounded up some folding army cots and set them up in the basement of the First Baptist Church on Adams Street as a make-shift shelter for people fleeing the flood from the West Side. We then used the bus to transport families either to the church or to relatives' or friends' homes on the "hill". I recall that the entire Fleming family moved into our house on Bessemer Street...all those people crammed into that tiny house sleeping in three bedrooms, an attic, a living room, on the porch, in the kitchen...anywhere you could stretch out. We survived the ordeal.
"Mr. Hughes was a man ahead of his time. If it hasn't already been done, a monument to his service to the community needs to be erected in a prominent place. He needs to be recognized for his faith in us kids and the way he nurtured us when not many others took the time to do so. He spent so much of his time, talents and treasures to insure that we "rough stones" could someday be polished into diamonds. Such a gesture would be a small way to say thanks and to let the world know that a giant of a man lived amongst us and was a role model for so many young men."

(Email correspondence, Eugene Allen to Afrolumens Project, subject "Fw: Steelton Boy Scout Troop 107," July 14, 2005)

Group portrait of African American Girl Scout troop, Steelton.  Click for the full image.Girl Scout Troop, Steelton

Like the boy scout photograph, above, the troop is not identified in this photograph.  Several of the persons on this photograph are identified, however.  The adult on the right is identified as "Mrs. Reed."  In the back row, the second child is identified as Catherine Hurst, and the fourth child is identified as Ethel Brookin.

Florence Rowe provides the following identifications:
"Second Row: Leader unknown, Betty Lou Waugh, Catherine Hurst, Patricia Johnson, next girl unknown, Audrey Frye, Mrs. Reed
First Row: Diane Frye, Etheleen Cox, ______Howard, unknown girl, Rose Ann Mont, _________Hannah.

Also from the collection of Mr. Moore, this image was scanned from a badly faded photocopy, the original photograph not being available.  It has been digitally enhanced to bring out details.

Click the image for the full picture.

Other Steelton Articles:

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This page was updated November 11, 2006.