Scouting History in the Heart of America Council - October 2014
by Andy Dubill, Council Historian
Walter Bublitz – SPL of Kansas City's 1937 National Jamboree Contingent (part 2)
Walter Bublitz was the Senior Patrol Leader of the Kansas City contingent that attended the 1937 Jamboree in Washington, D.C. He went into great detail about the Jamboree and I thought it would be interesting to share with you some of his accounts of the first National Jamboree that was held in this country. Here's part 2 of the contingent's journey.
Friday, July 2 - Took a taxi to the foreign contingents to mingle with them and try to do some trading. Was able to trade for a French Scout pin. One of the contingent’s Scouts traded his undershirt for a skunk’s tooth. Took a much needed shower and went to the section meeting where Dan Beard awarded several Eagle Scout medals. Held a campfire with several British Scouts and learned about Scouting in England.
Saturday, July 3 - Slept in. Visited the Lincoln Memorial and several other attractions. Was supposed to hear Paul Siple speak that evening, but went to visit the southern Scouts instead.
Sunday, July 4 - It had not rained for twenty-four hours—“Hooray!” Were supposed to eat at 7am, but the meal was two hours late. Arrived at church at the end of the sermon. Went swimming at a local country club where the pool was very crowded. Senator Harry Truman came by to talk with the Scouts. Very few fireworks that night-it did not seem like the Fourth.
Monday, July 5 - It rained steadily all night and up until noon. Mud everywhere. Hiked to the US Capitol. Also toured the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. Went to the fireworks display at the Washington Monument—it was the greatest display the Scouts had ever witnessed.
Tuesday, July 6 - Still raining at 6am. Had a lousy breakfast of mush and cereal. Went to Arlington and witnessed a funeral and visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lee Mansion. Went to the Smithsonian Institute – “absolutely the most interesting place I’ve seen.” Could have spent months there and not seen it all. Finally saw the Spirit of St. Louis exhibit. Got a ride back to camp with a rich old lady. Had watery lamb stew for dinner and had to prepare for several guests for dinner including Senator Truman. Went to a show that featured a champion wood chopper and a trained dog – the Scouts enjoyed it immensely.
Wednesday, July 7 - Walked back to the Capitol to pick up visitor’s passes. Tried to get into the FBI, but it was too crowded to tour.
Thursday, July 8 - Up early to eat breakfast and get the troops ready to go to Constitution Avenue to see President Roosevelt. They lined up for the review, but everyone was so hot that when he drove by few took pictures. In contrast, everyone cheered Dan Beard and James West later in the parade. One of the Scouts had his appendix removed earlier in the week and was hospitalized nearby. Had to race back to camp for a business meeting and bed.
Friday, July 9 - Hiked to the Pan-American Building and the White House for tours. Had VIP guests for dinner and it was time to take camp down. Took pictures of the contingent outside camp. The busses to take them to the train station were over an hour late and there were lots of gripes from the Scouts.
Saturday, July 10 - Up at 5am after a great sleep. The train was about four hours late and trapped behind the regular National Limited. The car’s temperature was very comfortable and naps were numerous. Stopped at the new, modern Cincinnati train station. After a fast ride to Kansas City, the train arrived at the Union Station about 1am on Sunday, July 11, 1937 where Scout Executive Bartle conducted a short closing service and it was off home and to bed.
In 2001 Walter Bublitz wrote that “All I can say after 64 years, it was a thrill of my young lifetime to go to this First National Jamboree and be honored with the position of Senior Patrol Leader. The trip to and from Washington, D.C. was a wonderful experience for me, and the sights and experiences in Valley Forge and Washington have remained with me for all these years. My very first trip to Washington was tops. I was the first one in my immediate family to go there, so that was a distinction. I don’t know how I could have been any luckier.”
If you have Scouting history questions or suggestions for future articles, please email Andy Dubill at firstname.lastname@example.org.