Hay: Scout hut brings back fond memories

“Ahh-kee-laa! Dib dib dib! Dob dob dob!” A bunch of young males sitting around in a circle chanting, two fingers of each hand held up on the sides of their heads signifying the ears of a wolf. Now that sounds a lot like some strange animal cult, now doesn’t it? Nope. It was a whole bunch of us young pups happily growing from Cubs to full-fledged Boy Scouts.

I was thinking about that when I read that the old Scout shack downtown has to be demolished on account of the logs being so old and tired (like many of us former Scouts) that there’s no hope left (unlike us former Scouts).

Actually, I’m not sure which troop used that Shack for meetings and events, but our Scout troop met in the basement of Knox Presbyterian, right across the street from the venerable Paramount Theatre. In fact, the only time I was ever in the Shack was when the family went down there to purchase a nice freshly cut Christmas Tree. I thought it was pretty comfy and special in that nest of logs but then again, everything is pretty comfy and special at Christmas.

As for the chanting we Cubs did at the beginning of every meeting, I remember wondering way back then just why we were shouting “DIB DIB, DOB DOB.” I’m fairly embarrassed to admit that it somehow got right past me that the DIB and DOB are actually acronyms. I accidentally found out years later that Dib, is actually Dyb, standing for Do Your Best; and Dob means Do Our Best! Duh. I think I may be the only highly-badged graduating Scout that didn’t even know our own official motto.

But the important thing is that Cub Scouts not only kept us rapscallions off the streets, gave us fun things to do and learn, but it also gave us permission to do things like crochet, needle point, knitting and collect paper matchbook covers. That’s how you earned your badges. Achievement and activity Badges were the cat’s meow when you were a Cub or a Scout, and there was a whole list of ones you could try for. Those us who were, shall we say, pathologically competitive were determined to snag as many badges as humanly possible. I can imagine the poor Moms of the 50s and 60s Scouting world up half the night constantly sewing the badges on sleeves of the uniforms of hyper Scouts (thanks Mom!)

Because of the bevy of badges, I got to spend time with my Grandma that I might have missed – her in her rocking chair, me on the couch by the stove, “knit one, purl two.” In the time I had proudly produced something that looked like a confused facecloth, she had clicked out two or three perfect pairs of mittens. And – who knew – crocheting is actually pretty cool. My doily thingy was the size of a bottle cap but, wow, that badge was surprisingly radical!

I think I still have the cross-stitch elephant I did with Mom on a tiny piece of special cloth that has squares on it. At least it looked enough like one that I nailed another badge. For my Collector Badge I talked my Dad into bugging all our grown-up family and friends for their paper matchbooks. Everybody smoked in those days (unfortunately) but it still took over a year to collect enough interesting and unique matchbooks with pictures and sayings and advertising on them to cop a snazzy badge.

Ironically, though, the thing I liked least was overnight camping. I’m a weird Scout that way. But, hey, at least I always Dybbed and Dobbed.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him column ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.

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