The Unexpected Benefits of being a Boy Scout
Around the late forties, the American Legion Post 308 used to meet every other Monday at 7:00 P.M. in a building on Cove Road (nee Bakeshop Road) in Orleans. Because the Boy Scouts, under the guidance of Alaric Coffin (Ollie’s father), used to meet at the same time in a building right next door, just to the right of what is the Left Bank Gallery (formerly L.R.ElIis’s or T.A. Smith’s grocery store), I would ride with my Father, and we would go to our respective meetings.
After the Boy Scout meeting, I would walk next door, enter the back of the Legion Hall and, as strongly suggested by my father, keep my mouth shut and quietly take a seat while their meeting progressed.
On one occasion, the formal part of the Legion meeting had ended early. It seems that a rather progressive member, a guy that I recall as “Kid” Baker (“Kid” because he had done some amateur boxing), had recently made a trip to New York City and had gotten hold of some “artistic” film that contained footage of some rather attractive nude women posing, for “artistic” purposes only. He had brought the film to the meeting, knowing that many of the Legionnaires were interested in art and culture.
When I quietly entered the back of the hall, the lights were out, and the film was running. No one knew that a twelve-year-old and interested party was sitting in the back of the room. The Legionnaires were enjoying the film, making “artistic” and “critical” remarks along the way. The film ended, the lights went on, everyone got up, turned toward going out the back door, and then saw me. Never in history was there a faster change of attitude.
Most, if not all, of the prominent men in town were Legionnaires, and they were all there. There were some prize expressions on their faces. Confusion reigned as varied thoughts ran through their minds. How would the principal of the high school explain his attendance? How would the chief of police defend himself before the selectmen, who were there also? What would one of my teachers have to say to me tomorrow in school?
My father gathered me up and we got in the car. On the way home he explained with his usual Cape Cod brevity,”You don’t have to tell everything you know, especially to your Mother.”
Boy, that was a great Boy Scout meeting!