— In the early 1950s, boys in Enid had a limited number of opportunities for activities. One program that grabbed the attention of me and my friends was that of the Boy Scouts: Camping trips! Sum-mer Camps! Swimming! Canoeing!
First Presbyterian Church had a good Scout Troop, under the direction of several of our fathers. My dad, Lee Cromwell, was Scout Master part of the time, and he loved to organize camping trips, float trips and merit badge courses. At times we had as many as 40 boys active in the troop.
I have great memories of camping trips to the Illinois River in eastern Oklahoma for canoeing and camping. We really enjoyed the Illinois because it had lots of water compared to the Salt Fork River. The Salt Fork meant dragging the canoes behind us as we walked in an inch or two of water. But the Illinois had enough water to float and even some rapids to run.
But Scouting was more than camps and trips. We worked on first aid, outdoor skills and merit badges. I remember my Civics Merit Badge teacher, Mr. John Dykes, who ran a sporting goods store in Enid. He loved the U.S. Constitution. Course requirements included local, state and federal governmental structure and how they worked. Mr. Dykes had us come to his home every Sunday afternoon for two hours and he would lecture us on government. Every one of us who took his course passed the final test and earned the badge. I learned enough that I hardly cracked a book in Government 1 at the University of Oklahoma and earned a good grade in the course. Thanks to John Dykes!
A number of us in Troop Six earned our Eagles. I don’t remember it as being hard, but it did take a lot of work. We worked on Scout stuff all the time, but we were all doing it together and it was a lot of fun. Dick Autry, George Beggs, Dan Edwards, Mike Webber, Don Conner, Row-land Carter, Tim Crowley, Milt Garber, Steve Thurman, Bruce Snethen, Gene Owens, Jim Evans and myself were all Eagle Scouts from Troop Six.
Scouting was great preparation; we learned self-reliance and good planning; and we learned how to cope when things went wrong. I treasure the experience!