CHAPTER TWO: 1930-1940

The Great Depression Years

The stock market crashed and the American economy was brought into the greatest slump it had ever known, the Great Depression. Scouting, however, remained just as strong as ever and Troop 33 was no exception. It actually grew into two Troops, Troop A and Troop B.

In retrospect, it is no surprise that the Great Depression didn't hurt Scouting. Scouting is in many ways learning to live with little, so it was ideally suited to the Depression.

Memories of the meetings of this era reflect the strong military discipline of Scouting at the time. The Troop practiced marching as well as Pep-n-Whistle, a drill in pseudo-military maneuvering. While these had been features of Scouts before the thirties, no official records mention them. (My information on them comes from those people still alive today who remember them.)

Pep-n-Whistle was a competitive event. Information on the specifics comes from Bill Foulke:

  • One of the activities to burn off excess energy was the Pep 'n Whistle Drill . . . There were no audible commands, but the leader would first give a whistle blast, then run to his new position, signal with body action the new formation to take, and give a second whistle blast as a command to move. Each patrol would then move on the run to their new position and come to attention. For example, the hollow square was signified by the leader by extending both arms straight out, but bent straight at the elbows.
  • This discipline extended to all facets of Troop as well as camp organization and remained strong well into the 60's when it began to slacken in the face of new concepts of individuality as well as the military backlash against the Vietnam war.

    A full uniform was a must at all meetings. It consisted of knee britches, a wool Scout shirt, knee socks, the Troop neckerchief, and the wide flat brimmed felt hat that was characteristic of Scouting. Utmost care was taken of each uniform and possession of one during the Depression was really considered a luxury.

    Some of the most detailed information on what actually happened at the meetings comes from Walt Wilder. He recalls that in addition to the military drills the meetings also usually had one portion set aside to teaching a basic Scout skill. He also remembers Kyle Cudworth telling stories at the meetings (a tradition that survives today in the Scoutmasters minute).

    In 1932, Cub Pack 3 was formed. Boys joined Cub Scouts at the age of 9 then moved up to Boy Scouts at the age of 12. Little is remembered from Cub Scouts but the main purpose of the organization was to prepare the young boys for membership in Troop 33. The pack would meet in the afternoons on Fridays before the Troop meetings. It would learn the principles of Scouting. Then it would leave and the Scouts who supervised it would stick around for the Troop meeting.

    As I mentioned before, at the time Troop 33 was divided into Troop A and Troop B. Each Troop had four patrols, each with 8 Scouts. It was an absolute requirement that a Troop not exceed 32 Scouts and so creating two Troops was the best way around it. There was actually a waiting list to get into the Troop as well as an overflow patrol which simply consisted of guys waiting for an opening in a patrol. Demand was intense.

    The two Troops were each led by an ASPL with an SPL presiding over both. It must have been quite a feat to keep so many boys ordered and organized but Kyle and the leaders of the time did it well. Years later, SPL Neil Swanson wrote to Scoutmaster Kyle Cudworth to tell him that "being chosen to be SPL meant more to me than attaining my Eagle rank." Without exception everyone I have talked to from that era remembers the meetings as well run and orderly despite the 64+ young men who attended.

    Transportation Troubles

    So many Troop members also created problems with transportation. One story which Kyle never tired of telling was of the time that the Troop had needed transportation to a Waligazu and George Dayton, of the wealthy Dayton family, was chairman of transportation for the Troop (such a post existed and was necessary). He told Kyle not to worry; he'd take care of it.

    The day of the Waligazu arrived and all the Troop was assembled at the church. Kyle still didn't know how they were going to get there when a large procession of limousines and Cadillacs all driven by chauffeurs came down the street. George had gotten his friends in Wayzata to loan him their chauffeurs for the day.

    With the attitudes against rich people in those days, the boys of 33 responded with embarrassment and outright refusal to go. They went, however, and were "razzed" severely by the other Troops for their extravagance. Kyle, however, found the whole affair quite amusing.

    Another issue of transportation that came up was getting people to and from meetings. Most boys rode the street car, while others organized neighborhood car-pools. Still, when on campouts or going to competitions it always took plenty of planning to get everyone there and the involvement of the parents was key. Parents of people joining the Troop were made aware that they would be expected to provide transportation.

    The Birth of the Sea Scouts

    With the overflow of Scouts in the Troop space was limited and so many older boys once they'd become Eagle Scouts would move on to Sea Scouts and Sea Scout Ship 333. The Sea Scout ship had existed at least since the late twenties, although the exact date of its founding is uncertain.

    In Sea Scouts what the former Troop members really found was a way to stay in Scouting. Sea Scouting, however, was not without its perks. Sea Scouts had access to several sailboats and participated in cutter races on lake Harriet against the rival sea Scout ships. Perhaps the biggest event was the Sea Scout ball which, in the words of Bill Foulke, "was actually attended by real girls." The Sea Scout uniform was a snappy sailor suit complete with bell-bottoms and a white sailor hat.

    In the thirties we also start to hear more about the camping simply because there are now people alive who remember the trips. Jim Scoggin remembers the Troop taking canoe trips on the St. Croix from Danville to Taylors Falls. Wally Johnson remembers his first campout at Pine Island at Lake Linwood and making a bed out of pine needles. Willard Everett recalls a humorous scene: "I have a vague memory of a canoe overnight from camp. The image of Tom himself soaking wet from rain . . . standing under a tree with arms outstretched like a crucifixion, cursing."

    Other destinations included Carlos Avery, Rum River (site of an existing Scout camp even today), as well as a trip to Philmont in its early days. The Troop also went to camporees each spring and fall where they competed against other Troops in Scout skills. Richard Bylund recalls ". . . an early Camporee at the parade grounds with TOTAL rain! Pup tents were not long enough and open at the ends."

    Willard Everett also remembers taking an extensive trip with Kyle in his Buick convertible and a borrowed Mercury station wagon out west, packed with ten boys, to places like Zion and Yellowstone. "It took at least two weeks. Don’t know how Kyle stood it!" he wrote.

    Camp Ajawah at Linwood Lake

    The main destination, however, was Camp Ajawah, purchased (or leased?) from Farmer Carlisle beginning in 1930 when Camp Ajawah was relocated to its current location on Linwood Lake. At the time it was quite a rustic location. Significantly far away from the city and without a single house on the whole lake, these early campers had access to the whole lake.

    One interesting feature of the earlier camp was that it was still grazing land for Carlisle's cattle, which kept the forest free of underbrush as well as leaving cowpies scattered throughout camp. Another thing worth noting about the early Camp Ajawah were the flats below the ridge. They were entirely sand without a tree to be seen, and had in fact quite recently been lake bottom. It is believed that the bottom of the ridge was originally the lakeshore. Then, in the late 1800s, to make way for a railroad, the whole swampy area around Linwood was drained through canals. This event coincidentally created the Ajawah flats.

    Camp Ajawah has always been and always will be rustic. Back in the thirties, however, it lacked many things that the campers of today enjoy and take for granted. Electricity for instance. Until 1957 they used gas lamps. There was no running water and no showers, as Wally Johnson remembers.

    In the first year of its existence the mess hall was built. An old cabin behind the mess hall was HQ, and that was all there was as far as buildings were concerned. Then in 1937 the lodge was built by Scouts, including Wally Johnson. Most of the other buildings were done shortly after the war when the supplies became available again.

  • Mrs. Lindahl and Mrs. Christiansen were the camp cooks for many years. They were called Lindy and Christy and they were really a couple of sweethearts. They had especially soft hearts for the Cub Scouts and often put out sandwiches for them to have on their way back to their tents from the afternoon session. One summer I had been carving a set of a salad serving spoon and a fork. I had forgotten them when camp was over and left then under the tent floor. That was okay because Girl Scouts followed the boys at the camp so when we went to visit my sister I retrieved them. Next I went to say hello to the cooks in the kitchen and Lindy saw the partly finished spoon and fork in my hands and said, "Oh Billy, you brought me some firewood!" and popped them into the wood stove. What could I say?
  • -Bill Foulke

  • We had dinner in the mess hall one time when we could not use the actual name of items. For ‘butter," one person requested: "Please pass the churned contents of a cow’s duffle bag."

    -Neil Swanson

  • The original Scoutline was where it is now except that the tents were arranged along the ridge as opposed to their current half-moon formation. The original Cubline, which was created around 1937 or '38 consisted of three tents arranged in-between the lodge and the mess hall. It expanded the next year to four.

    The new Camp Ajawah essentially continued the traditions of the old and many of these traditions continue today. In the thirties Troop 33 gained a steady leadership as well as considerable size. It was a busy and productive time that set out a stable program followed to this day.


    Troop 33 History