5000 miles - 73 days - 11 Boy Scouts - 1 Jeep Truck

gimbelsjeep

Bigger Hammer
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#1
Gather around kids and read this reprinted story from The Gaslamp Newsletter.

Submitter note: A journey like this realistically will never happen again, I wish I was there. There are also photos of the Jeep Truck. This truck burned in a garage fire the next year. The garage and truck were never rebuilt. Enjoy

Rocky Mountain Trek
In the summer of 1952, I was one of 11 Boy Scouts from Glen Ridge who joined Troop 3 Scoutmaster George Gimbel on a 73-day cross-country adventure. The trip took in 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Nineteen fifty-two was years before the construction of the Interstate Highway System, so all of our travel was via state and local roads. We saw the country up-close. We camped out every night in national parks, state forests, and Boy Scout camps.

We departed from Glen Ridge on June 17, just a couple of days after the start of school vacation. The prior three months we had worked together to refit Gimbel’s Jeep truck with seating benches, storage chests, canvas curtains, a galvanized roof to carry two 18-foot aluminum canoes, and a trailer for tents, packs, provisions, and two more canoes.

Our itinerary called for us to travel south and west through the Ozarks to Little Rock, Ark., and continue west through Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. Driving through the Ozark Mountains, it became obvious that the local lifestyle was worlds away from anything I had experienced in Glen Ridge. By the time we reached Drumwright, Okla., with oil wells in all directions, the upholstered green benches in the Jeep had turned a dusty brown. In early July, we reached Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in eastern New Mexico, where we spent
nearly a week with fellow scouts from all over the country.

One evening while there, we watched as professional rodeo cowboys at the Raton Rodeo wrestled steer to the ground and rode bareback on broncos. Next we headed north to Colorado. After establishing our campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park, five scouts, including me, headed off on a two-day hike to the summit of Long’s Peak. Halfway up the open mountain face we encountered a July snow storm. Very scary!

In northwestern Wyoming we visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It was here that I celebrated my 14th birthday on July 22. We rigged masts on our canoes with lodge pole pine trunks that we found in the woods, adding ponchos as sails and driftwood as daggerboards. Sailing in the shadows of the Tetons was unforgettable. One fine day we embarked on a canoe trip down the
Snake River in Wyoming. We linked up with a local guide who assured us he had everything under control. Not so! We had to rescue two scouts as their canoe disappeared downstream near Jackson Hole.

Some of my clearest memories are of Glacier National Park in northern Montana, where we hiked to the forest fire observation towers and were educated by the rangers in charge. We also spent a memorable day hiking on the surface of glaciers and dropping rocks down the crevasses to get a sense of their depths. One night after falling sleep on the shore of Saint Mary Lake, we were interrupted by unfamiliar sounds. About 30 feet beyond our tents were two bears competing for the food we had suspended by rope from a tree limb. Eventually they were successful and wandered off.

One of our frequent distractions was flat tires. We became Nascar-proficient at unexpected pit stops. The most memorable took place in the Blackfoot Confederacy territory of northern Montana. While changing the tire we heard unusual noises that sounded like distant firecrackers followed by whistling zings. Turned out two guys on the next ridge were using our truck-mounted canoes for target practice. That tire change set a speed record.

Our scoutmaster, an engineer by profession, included non-touristy visits across the country, such as a refinery, copper mines, and a power plant. My father, Herb, also arranged a visit to General Motors in Detroit through a college friend who was a vice-president. On our arrival at
the outskirts of Detroit, we received a police escort to the downtown headquarters, where we were photographed and interviewed. We arrived back in Glen Ridge on August 28, just in time for the school year.


Ted Meyer

Rocky Mountain Trek 1952.jpg Trek Scouts 1.jpg Trek Scouts 2.jpg
 

The Doge

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#3
That definitely would not happen these days. I did much of the same trek in the early 70's when I was 12 years old with my brothers in a Apache popup trailer.
 

dahreno

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#5
What a great story Duffy, it's a story to remember for a lifetime. Hell, your 80 and look how well you remember it. I have some great stories that I have remembered through out my entire life. Me and my best friend drove from Southern California to Fairbanks Alaska in a 60 something, maybe a '69 Toyota FJ40 Landcruiser right after graduating High School. At that time the entire Alaskan Highway was all dirt, all 1,500 miles of it or so. We had broken the windsheild, popped tires, lost our brakes for 400 miles,broke our radiator, etc. Saw some of the best country this world has to offer. It was the best trip either of us have ever had in our lives. My friend has passed away several years ago and it seems odd now not being able to share the good times we had. These days I share those times and stories with his son. I hope he passes them on to his son.
I think the second best trip was getting lost for 14 hours with my wife while 4 wheeling in the jeep through the high Sierras ! That's a whole story in itself ! lol
 
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#8
Great story,

I shared with a number of my fellow former Cub and Boy Scout Adult Leaders. We all agreed this would be a really fun trip without the boys, wives nagging via cell phone etc. HaHa

As someone above mentioned, this would never happen today. Our troop was considered High Adventure. We struggled non stop with permits, permissions and getting adult volunteers to get the proper training. Too many adults and even more kids lack the experience to check tire pressure much less pull off any sort of roadside repair.

The boys that went on this adventure got a true once in a lifetime experience.

Thank you very much for sharing.

Duane

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gimbelsjeep

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#9
Great story,

I shared with a number of my fellow former Cub and Boy Scout Adult Leaders. We all agreed this would be a really fun trip without the boys, wives nagging via cell phone etc. HaHa

As someone above mentioned, this would never happen today. Our troop was considered High Adventure. We struggled non stop with permits, permissions and getting adult volunteers to get the proper training. Too many adults and even more kids lack the experience to check tire pressure much less pull off any sort of roadside repair.

The boys that went on this adventure got a true once in a lifetime experience.

Thank you very much for sharing.

Duane

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Duane,

When I heard the story of the 1952 Trek I was fascinated. It was 1972 and our troop had just returned from a Florida trip that was unbleivable in it's own right. We had just spent two weeks at military bases in south Florida where we para sailed at Mira Mar Naval Station and threw training genages at Homestead Air Force Base. Just touching on the some highlights. When we returned to our Ramapo Mountain troop cabin thereafter I Became aware of the Rocky Moutain Trek. It was when we opened a mystery box in the cabin the had a canvas seat pad hinged upon the top. Inside the never opened box was a cast iron letter press with ink and neckercheif blanks already hemed. Also there were neckercheifs that were made from prior trips. This was one of the seats that were made for the back of the pick up truck.
When I found the Rocky Mountian Neckercheif I asked about that trip and It blew me away. George Gimbel took 11 scouts in a Jeep truck with no seat belts or A/C or heat or windows on a cross country trek with one adult in a pick up truck. George told me that the truck was new and had a four cylinder engine with overdrive. He took the Jeep truck over his 1951 wagon for this trip because it was able to carry more scouts and the canoes better. I own a Willy's pick up truck and think of this story every time I get in it.

Duane, Thank you for your volunteering and reply, this trip could never be duplicated. It maybe unlawful in today's time.
 
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#10
Duffy,

A neckerchief press would be an awesome tool for memorabilia. We typically order patches for each event. Our troop goes on an outing once a month with one more epic adventure per year. Washington DC and a canoe trip down the Colorado river are ones we repeat due to the high interest.

I turned neckerchief slides (woggles) when time permitted for some of our adventures. With a troop of 65 boys, we typically end up with 40 on an average event. Add in a 6 to 8 adults, I spent many hours at the lathe.

I dug a few out of my youngest son's memory box. The one is to represent a shotgun shell from our annual Firearms Safety trip, the snowman was from a snow camping trip. There is a fishing lure from a 4 day offshore fishing trip.

The aluminum one made from a bought spacer was from our Mt. Whitney climb. It was an epic trip. Myself, 2 adults, 9 boys. My oldest son was one of the adults, my youngest was SPL. I had permits for 15 hikers. Only 12 of us participated in all the prep hikes and met the requirements. I lost 17 pounds leading up to it, and was most likely the most fit I had been in years.

We started through Whitney Portal. Hiked up and made camp. We left our heavy gear in camp and reached the summit second day with light packs with a light snow fall. Then we returned to camp, spent the night and hiked out. Overall we made an elevation gain of over 6000 feet. It was a butt kicker.

My oldest son has that slide on the transfer case shifter of his JKU as a reminder to be prepared. He continues to off road, camp and hike with 4 of the 9 that were on that trip and many others in Troop 212. They recently re visited the 50 mile Silver Mocasin Trail that we hiked about 10 years ago.

Great memories as a scout leader. My boys still tease me about our first white water river rafting trip on the American River. Only one boat flipped, the one carrying the Scoutmaster, myself, my two boys, and two men that tagged along from the local scout council to insure we were operating in a safe manner. Luckily we were using a professional rafting company and could blame our guide. Haha

I was not a scout as a kid. I was however, blessed with parents who worked hard and lived for the weekends outdoors. Scouting was great for my boys as well as my daughters. I am proudly a parent of 2 Eagle Scouts as well as 2 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients. (For the record, the Gold Awards are harder to earn than an Eagle.)

Duane


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rRoyce

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#11
What an awesome story and incredible journey.
 

Dahdo

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#12
Great story, thanks. I was a scout in the 60's, we made a trip to Philmont from Sacramento, CA, but it wasn't in the back of a Willys. It's funny though, my wife's uncle Frank took a similar trip in the early 40's. The scouts all rode in the back of a truck similarly outfitted to the one you had. He tells the story of how they stopped late one night for gas and everyone got out to use the restroom. They were a couple of hundered miles away the next day when they realized Frank wasn't in the truck. They'd left him. They managed to find him, get him on a bus, and continue the trip. Later in life, one of his scout buddies wrote a book on the trip and titled it, "Where's Frank?"
 
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#13
Love the where's Frank story. We most commonly misplaced our scoutmaster. Sweet guy, huge heart, true to life Mr. MAGOO.

Thanks for sharing
 

64CJ5

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#14
That is a great story. In 1960 I was one of 50,000 scouts at the jamboree at Colorado Springs. We traveled from Oklahoma and back in buses, comfortable but not exciting. That was the extent of my traveling as a scout. Did go to lots of camps and camp outs. I had good leaders and have good memories of my scouting experience.
 

Dahdo

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#15
Duffy,

A neckerchief press would be an awesome tool for memorabilia. We typically order patches for each event. Our troop goes on an outing once a month with one more epic adventure per year. Washington DC and a canoe trip down the Colorado river are ones we repeat due to the high interest.

I turned neckerchief slides (woggles) when time permitted for some of our adventures. With a troop of 65 boys, we typically end up with 40 on an average event. Add in a 6 to 8 adults, I spent many hours at the lathe.

I dug a few out of my youngest son's memory box. The one is to represent a shotgun shell from our annual Firearms Safety trip, the snowman was from a snow camping trip. There is a fishing lure from a 4 day offshore fishing trip.

The aluminum one made from a bought spacer was from our Mt. Whitney climb. It was an epic trip. Myself, 2 adults, 9 boys. My oldest son was one of the adults, my youngest was SPL. I had permits for 15 hikers. Only 12 of us participated in all the prep hikes and met the requirements. I lost 17 pounds leading up to it, and was most likely the most fit I had been in years.

We started through Whitney Portal. Hiked up and made camp. We left our heavy gear in camp and reached the summit second day with light packs with a light snow fall. Then we returned to camp, spent the night and hiked out. Overall we made an elevation gain of over 6000 feet. It was a butt kicker.

My oldest son has that slide on the transfer case shifter of his JKU as a reminder to be prepared. He continues to off road, camp and hike with 4 of the 9 that were on that trip and many others in Troop 212. They recently re visited the 50 mile Silver Mocasin Trail that we hiked about 10 years ago.

Great memories as a scout leader. My boys still tease me about our first white water river rafting trip on the American River. Only one boat flipped, the one carrying the Scoutmaster, myself, my two boys, and two men that tagged along from the local scout council to insure we were operating in a safe manner. Luckily we were using a professional rafting company and could blame our guide. Haha

I was not a scout as a kid. I was however, blessed with parents who worked hard and lived for the weekends outdoors. Scouting was great for my boys as well as my daughters. I am proudly a parent of 2 Eagle Scouts as well as 2 Girl Scout Gold Award recipients. (For the record, the Gold Awards are harder to earn than an Eagle.)

Duane


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Duane,
I just realized you must be from my old stomping grounds, Sacramento. It sounds like Troop 212 was a great one, and it was because of parents like you. My dad was much the same. He found Troop 1 in Sacramento and I had the time of my life from age 11 to 16. Troop 1 was 50 years old in 1966 and many of the boy's fathers and even grandfathers had been in the troop. They had, and still have, their own summer camp up near Strawberry. I never realized how good I had it until later when I realized my 14-year old dad wasn't going to summer camp, he home taking care of things while my grandfather was serving in Europe during WWII.
 
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