‘It Takes a Village’ and the Boy Scouts
Dust specks flitted above the dark wood floor in the Saturday morning light streaming through the front windows of` Billy Moore Drugstore. A palpable ache twisted inside Moon searching for release as he worked behind the counter getting things ready for the day’s customers. Disoriented, his financial source of boyhood independence gone, he was forced to determine a new way to live.
Aunt Patty recalls, “Ethelyn, Jean and Bobbie were already out of the house.” Momma was always good at raising us girls, but she didn’t know quite what to do with your daddy.”
As they say, it takes a village. The good people of Ackerman became Moon’s surrogate parents. School was a necessary evil except for literature, history, geography, baseball and football. On Saturdays and every weekday after class or practice, Moon headed to his job at the drugstore.
Looking over his round spectacles from behind the counter, Billy deadpanned, “Are they teaching you anything at that school, Moon?”
“Yes sir, a little.”
After a vanilla milkshake with lots of malt and a few hours stocking, Moon helped clean and tidy things up for the next day. The newspaper and magazine rack always needed attention.
“Hey, Moon, why don’t you take those expired issues of Field and Stream home with you and anything else you want. By the way, don’t you need off early tomorrow for Boy Scouts?”
Moon read and reread every F&S article, especially the fishing articles.
“I liked them magazine articles that described where and how them writers caught them fish and what kind of lures and flies they was a usin’. I read most of ’em from cover to cover. I still have some of ’em. I also loved that Boy Scout Handbook. I read it forwards and backwards. I liked all them illustrations and lists that described what to do in any given situation or emergency.”
Moon memorized the Scout Oath with the seriousness of a catechumen. In the upper echelon of important things, the Scout law ranked just above the law of Moses.
"A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, AND those who know Moon best, would add “freaking tough!” Over the years, the various laws competed for ascendency, some doubled and tripled in importance, while others dropped off the list. Moon would become an expert in the “thrifty” category. Mack could “turn a dime”, Moon can “stretch a dime”.
Drums beat around the blazing fire as Order of the Arrow dancers hopped on one leg then the other, orange sparks whirling around their head bonnets and painted faces. Louder, faster, drums and native chants joined the smoke and rose into the night sky. Moon morphed into the embodiment of a real Choctaw warrior. Forever a student of history, he knew that a bit more than a century before on identical hallowed ground, the very same rituals had taken place.
“I won that history award almost every year in school. I’m proud to be an Eagle Scout of Troop 41, Pushmataha Council, Boy Scouts of America. I thank in some way, the Boy Scouts helped me cope with daddy’s death. Niles Bashaw was older than me and already an Eagle Scout. He was the oldest son of the local Presbyterian ‘preecher’. He kinda’ took me under his wing and taught me everythang he knew. He helped me realize I could be an Eagle Scout too. I don’t know where I would be today if not for Niles and his brother, Lewis. Their daddy got transferred somewhere down there in Florida. For years they used to stop by and visit if they happened to be passin’ through Ackerman. Lewis became some kinda’ professor and worked up there in one of them universities in New York. Niles became a scientist and is credited for lots of chemical patents. The last time Niles came by here was along about ten years ago. I haven’t heard from either of them in quite a while, I thank they both must have died.
Billy Moore sure helped me out a lot. I worked for him at his drugstore down there on Main Street. I made $12.50 a week. I saved ever penny to buy me one of them ‘glass’ rods. Them fiberglass rods didn’t come out ‘til around 1947. ‘Til then, people used them 3-foot steel rods made by Ocean City. I got my first glass rod in 1951. I’ve always regretted daddy never got to use one.”