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Scouting memories abound for 100 years
Scouting memories abound for 100 years
By JOAN DEMIRJIAN
Scouting in Chagrin Falls not only introduced resident Ray Henderson to new experiences and friends, but to many aspects of his hometown.
"My father died when I was 14 years old," Mr. Henderson said. "We were living on Cottage Street. My brothers, Eldon and Herb, had gone to the service."
As it turned out, Scouting was a big help, he said, as the organization celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He joined Troop 182, sponsored by the Chagrin Kiwanis Club, while in the sixth grade, and his adult Scoutmasters would help fill the void in his life, he said.
He went to his first meeting with John "Barkey" Rodgers, now Dr. John Rodgers, and it was the start of many great adventures while a Scout, Mr. Henderson said.
"Our Scoutmaster organized a trip to Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Washington, D.C., and to the Blue Ridge Mountains," Mr. Henderson said. "In Washington, we had dinner with Cong. George Bender in the Capitol building, and met at his office, he said.
"He was from Chagrin Falls and lived behind Whitesburg Pond," Mr. Henderson said. "One summer we camped there, and we were using the Chagrin Rec Center swimming pool. He offered his pool for all our camp outings."
To go to Scout camps, which his mother could not afford in the 1940s, he worked at a variety of jobs, including picking potatoes for a farm market on North Main Street.
Even before Scouting, he worked at places in the village. "I was in the fifth grade when I worked at the Falls Theater," Mr. Henderson said. "I stopped there after school, and in the darkness, I'd reach into an electrical panel to turn on the lights.
"It was strange to be there when it was so quiet," Mr. Henderson said. "Solethers owned it then, and if you played on the football team, you were allowed in once a week for a movie."
He would pick up all the seats, sweep the isles, vacuum the floor, clean two bathrooms and fill the candy machine. He was paid 25 cents a day and could go to one movie a week.
He also had a job delivering telegrams for Bright's Drug Store, which was located near where the former Dink's restaurant was on Main Street. "All the telegrams came in from the war," he said. He earned 10 cents per telegram.
"On a good week, I might make 50 cents a day. A couple times I got a 25-cent tip," Mr. Henderson said.
"My dad worked at the Chase Bag paper mill as watchman on Sundays," he said. "I was 10 and when my Dad would get sick, I would take his rounds. That was in 1943.
"He had to go to every station to punch in," Mr. Henderson said. "He would look for fires or anything that might be wrong. You had to punch approximately 25 clocks, and there were three buildings.
"I knew every inch of the paper mill as I walked through the dark buildings several times and punched the time clocks," he said.
Another summer, he worked at Peters Bakery in town, cleaning pots and pans and taking home day-old doughnuts and bread.
He also worked at the Chagrin Water Department, located where the police department is now, testing and repairing water meters. "For several days, Norm Fry and I would locate and document every water box in every tree lawn in Chagrin," he said.
He recalled how he has kept a secret until now how every Wednesday a group of businessmen would close the water department doors and have a poker game.
In the early 1940s, he would work in a booth at Blossom Time and that job helped him earn money for his first summer camp at Chagrin Scout Camp on Cannon Road in Bentleyville.
"I grew up with (actor and former Chagrin Falls resident) Tim Conway, and we played on the basketball team together," he said. "Our biggest worry in those days was if we were going to find enough worms to go fishing at the paper mill pond.
"We would hike all over the river, at Whitesburg, and parents didn't worry as long as we got home before dark. The falls area was one of our fishing holes," Mr. Henderson said.
"We never rolled pumpkins down Grove Hill, but I do have pictures of sledding in 1950 when all of Chagrin Falls was shut down," Mr. Henderson said.
In Scouting, he said dedicated volunteers helped make things possible, including Stuart Dye, Dick Halaltic, Squeaky Ramsey, Ray Giliam, Mayor Harry Bullock, Farwell White, Jerry Welsh and Lt. Col. Robert T. Boetcker.
"Col. Boetcker convinced me to go on, and I earned 21 merit Scout badges and attained Eagle rank in 1950, when I was a senior," Mr. Henderson said.
He became a Scout leader when he was 18 on a Scout trip to New Mexico, he said, and went on to travel all over the United States as a leader.
He gives credit to the many volunteers who helped him as Scoutmaster of Troop 182. Most have died, but Scouter Art Kravcek "is still going strong as a Silver Beaver holder and member of the Greater Cleveland Council Scout Museum. When I became Scoutmaster, I enjoyed the help of Kemper Dobbins, Mayor Fred Lauderer, Jerry McCormick, Art Kutant, Bob Young, Lewis Snow, Joe Cornelius and Bob Shier."
For the last seven years, he has been active in the Scout museum in Cleveland as assistant curator.
Looking back, he said, "I did a lot of traveling and made a lot of friends. I still meet with friends I made on those Scout trips."
Mr. Henderson and his wife, Julianne, live in Troy Township.
Troop 182's charter came to an end in the 1960s, however there are other Scout troops in the area. Many members have gone on to Eagle rank "and will be there as the 'journey' continues for another 100 years," he said.
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