(original article found in semi-annual newsletter, The Recorder- Fall/ 2019)
We all know we should, but seldom do, record the history of our lives. We live and move along in life, but don’t think to save that past. Thank goodness for pictures that we have taken (remember to write on the back of them!).
This past year, we were fortunate enough to have a program featuring Society member Jim Warren and his talk on several major events in his life . Thanks to Jim’s mother, Miriam, who thought to preserve the history of an amazing event in Jim’s life.
In 1953, Jim and 12 other Boy Scouts were lucky enough to attend the 3rd Annual Boy Scout Jamboree in Santa Ana, California! This was an exciting opportunity and involved traveling cross country by train. The total cost for each scout was $350, an exorbitant amount in those days.
To raise money, the scouts held numerous paper drives and cut down Christmas trees to sell. The Utica Newspapers and Rome Sentinel, as well as the Syracuse Herald Journal featured articles about the boys working toward raising money and preparing for the trip. Miriam Warren saved it all! (Thank you Mrs. Warren)
The 13 scouts ( 12 from Clark Mills and one from Clinton who was invited to join the Clark Mills troop for the trip) were part of a group of 42 in total from The Upper Mohawk Council units. The scouts from Jim’s troop included: Jim Warren, Bruce Wadsworth(Historian for the trip, who sent back stories of their experiences that were printed in the newspapers),Saied Adour,George Mair, Irving and Mel Bonsel, Jim Holmes, Bob and Bill Randall, Ed Acee, Ed Hoyland, Charles Langdon and Pete Robinson, from Clinton. They were accompanied by Leaders Phil Mair, Norm Culbertson and Jim Williamson, who was also appointed coachmaster for the Upper Mohawk Council section.
The train left the station on July 11, 1953 with a total of 240 scouts from our council and others. They had stops in Chicago, Omaha, Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City to name a few. They saw the Grand Canyon , too. They arrived in Santa Ana on July 16, 1943 and left California on July 26th.
Over 50,000 scouts attended the Jamboree in 1953 and featured visits from Bob Hope, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell and even Vice-President Richard Nixon.
Jim said that a group of about 50 former central New York residents who had moved to California put on a picnic for the Clark Mills/ and Clinton scouts and their leaders in addition to all the Jamboree activities.
To this day, Jim has wonderful memories of his trip to the Jamboree and is lucky enough to be able to look back at all those memories with the scrapbook his mother put together.
The other experience Jim shared with the Society was of his time as a crew member aboard the USS Lake Champlain.
The USS Lake Champlain was an aircraft carrier tasked with retrieving the space capsule Freedom 7( Mercury-Redstone) after it splashed down from taking the first American into space, Astronaut Alan Shepard. Jim had just gotten out of bootcamp and was assigned to the USS Lake Champlain, but arrived 2 days after it had left port to take part in the retrieval.Unfortunately, he missed being onboard for the retrieval, but was able to see the capsule and Alan Shepard when they returned to port.
The Jim and other members of the crew were given a photo album of pictures taken by people on the ship during and after retrieval. Jim shared all this with the Society.
This was only the first exciting thing to happen to Jim on the ship.
The USS Lake Champlain was stationed in Cuba when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred! Jim said it was a very tense time for the crew as no one knew if there would be war with the Soviets at any moment and Jim’s ship would be right at the front . Jim was at the end of his tour when the Navy had other ideas and he had to stay in for another 3 months when his ship was sent to Cuba.
Fortunately, war was averted and eventually Jim returned home was able to be discharged.
Thank you to Jim Warren for sharing these events with us!