Pining for the Boy Scouts

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Pine: A species of evergreen tree. Wood: cellular material for building things. Derby: A style of hat, also a race, as in Kentucky Derby.  Combined, Pine, Wood, Derby is a Cub Scout activity wherein boys watch their fathers race cars they (5%) and their fathers (95%) have built. Many things can be made from wood, including, arguments, high blood pressure, and peptic ulcers.

Unless you are Duane Hiatt’s son. In which case, according to our son Sam’s recollection, written for me as a birthday present, the race goes like this.

“I remember having a hard time making my pinewood derby racer for Cub Scouts. I didn’t want one that looked like everyone else’s and I was worried about winning because all the other boys talked about winning and what their cars looked like, and why their designs were going to guarantee a win. Incidentally many of the “cars” resembled nothing like a “car” in the end. But mine did, because Dad wasn’t concerned about winning. Anyway, Dad helped guide me to the coolest and worst design in Tenth Ward history.

“We bought the square block of wood and decided to pretty much leave it as a block of wood. Since we didn’t want our people to get wet driving in the derby in the rain, we decided to add more wood and put a cab on the block. Now it started to look like a real car: an old fashioned Lincoln to be exact. We made running boards and wheel wells out of Popsicle sticks, and then painted the whole thing black. Lastly since the kit came with an extra wheel we decided to give the car a spare tire on the back. It was awesome. Little did I know how anticlimactic the whole effort would seem come race day.

“You see we may have neglected some minor specifications. I was disqualified before the racing began for being slightly overweight. This stung a little at the time, but I got over it probably because Dad didn’t react. After all the legitimate racers were off the track, they let those who can’t read the instructions have a go at some “exhibition” races. So I lined up my car which by its massive weight should’ve smoked the competition, count off 3, 2, 1 then down went the start gate, and in cartoonish fashion there stood my car in a categorically un-zoomy fashion sitting in the starting blocks as if asleep and unaware that the race had begun.

“It turns out that spare tire was just low enough to sit right on the guide rail down the center of the track. Well, we couldn’t end it like that so we pulled off the spare and prepared for round two. This time the car took off properly. It zoomed down the track and with a “thwack” rammed right into the overhead timer bar at the bottom of the track. It couldn’t even finish the race although it might have at least stuck its nose out enough to clock a finish time. It was an amazingly and utterly unsuccessful racer indeed. Well, short of cutting the top off (I hear that dad is experienced in that particular operation on his custom car) we were done for the night.

“As consolation, our car did win an award for “best design” Yes, we were winners!

“I’ve reflected on this experience over the years to remind myself to have fun with things and don’t always let others dictate how to accomplish stuff; also, some contests and challenges can be a lot more fun going outside rules.”

Sam later graduated from college with an engineering degree; perhaps so that his own son might have a better chance in his Pinewood Derby.

Besides being the father of a “best design” pine wood racer, I am privileged to be the father of three Eagle Scouts, Dan, Sam, and Tom. I am also an Eagle Scout. I take no credit for this. It goes to Loren Partridge my scoutmaster. Loren pumped an incredible number of Eagle Scouts out of troop 91 Payson First Ward. I couldn’t today answer all the questions on the rank advancement and merit badge requirements. But once in the far off land of the Tonga Islands I remembered how to draw out infection by putting a lemon slice on the wound. I helped a woman injured in a car wreck one dark night when The Three D’s came upon her on a highway in the Midwest. I have tied down hay bales, tied up goats and horses and lashed together corrals and animal shelters using the knots I learned in scouts. And I have had the privilege of standing in Scout courts of honor with some of the finest men in the world. That has made it worth the effort. I hope it was worth the life blood Loren Partridge put into his work with us.

It has also been my honor to speak to and perform for scouts from troops and dens to a national council meeting in Atlanta, and a national jamboree at Valley Forge.

I headed the LDS scouting operation in Tonga when I was there as a missionary. I have presided over Pine Wood Derbies and model airplane fly-ins and Cub Scout carnivals as a Cub Master. I think scouting is a very effective program for helping turn boys into real men. That is one reason the program has come under fire from those with twisted values who resent the good work the scouts do.

Among my favorite scout jokes is the story of six bright eyed, bushy tailed Tenderfoot scouts who reported to their leader their good turn for the day. “We helped a little old lady cross the street.”

“It took six of you to help one little old lady cross a street?” he replied.

“Yes sir. She didn’t want to go.”

What do you think about this part of the book?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?

“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.

2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts

3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary

4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to

5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Your next installment is: The agony and ecstasy of athletics