Scouting History in the Heart of America Council - September 2014
by Andy Dubill, Council Historian
Walter Bublitz – SPL of Kansas City's 1937 National Jamboree Contingent (part 1)
Walter Bublitz was the Senior Patrol Leader of the Kansas City contingent that attended the 1937 Jamboree in Washington, D.C. There were four patrols in the contingent that year – A, B, C and D – consisting of about thirty-five Scouts and three Scoutmasters. SPL Walter Bublitz was responsible for the well-being and safety of his Scouts and he took the responsibility quite seriously. 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.
Friday, June 25 – Arrived at Kansas City’s Union Station about 8:45 p.m. and found no one else there. Interestingly enough, a few young ladies were the next to arrive to see their friends off. After the girls arrived, Troop 105’s drum and bugle corps arrived to prepare to send the Scouts off in good form. After the council president gave a little speech all the Scouts said goodbye to those who came to see them off and the Scouts went to their assigned train cars. They were very surprised to discover that the cars were air conditioned. They all had trouble sleeping that night because it was too cold in the cars.
Saturday, June 26 – They had a great breakfast – tomato juice, ham, potatoes, eggs and hot rolls – at the station in St. Louis. They were bussed on a double deck bus to Forest Park (the site of the 1904 World’s Fair). They toured the animal exhibits at the zoo, the Arts Building, but were disappointed that they could not get into the Lindbergh exhibit. They went back to the station and boarded the “Spirit of St. Louis” train which traveled at speeds up to 80mph on the run to New York City. They had two great meals aboard the train and the only delay was for a wrecked freight train at Casey, Illinois. The Scouts went through many tunnels on their trek east and all complained of the smoke and grime that coated them.
Sunday, June 27 – Had another fitful night sleeping, but had more great meals aboard the train and at the station stops. Went through Pittsburgh (was very pretty, but very dirty because of the mills) and then through Horseshoe Bend (one of the most picturesque train sites in Pennsylvania). Arrived in Philadelphia and were met by Scout Executive H. Roe Bartle – a favorite of all of the Scouts. Bartle led the Scouts on a bus tour around the greater Philadelphia area. They enjoyed a dinner of fruit cocktail, soup, beef, mashed potatoes, peas, salad, ice cream and milk. Traveled on to Valley Forge where Bartle held a service on the lawn outside of the chapel. They remounted the train and raced toward New York at lighting speed and soon arrived at Pennsylvania Station.
Monday, June 28 – The contingent was awakened an hour early by the hotel staff, they all had another scrumptious meal and then left for an all-day bus tour of New York City. They did everything from Wall Street to the Bowery; Grant’s Tomb to the Brooklyn Naval Yard and then circled the island on the tour boat “Tourist”. They ended the day with another wonderful meal and back to the hotel. Before getting aboard the B&O railroad, they caught part of a musical and movie at Radio City.
Tuesday, June 29 – Arrived in Washington D.C. early in the morning. They had breakfast at the Hotel Continental and then boarded busses for the Jamboree site. As typical at most jamborees, there was not enough equipment and the leaders were without tents. Was exhausted and fell into bed.
Wednesday, June 30 – Arose at 6:30 a.m. and ate a normal breakfast. Waited in line for a physical examination and other processing. Went to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving for a tour and a lunch of cold sandwiches (that splendid food could not last forever). Walked up the 100 flights of stairs to the top of the Washington Monument. Hiked to a nearby arena where bleachers awaited them. Heard speeches from James West, the Attorney General of the United States and Col. Theodore Roosevelt. Hiked back to camp to find tent had still not arrived.
Thursday, July 1 – Grape nuts and chipped beef for breakfast that morning. Road a boat to Mt. Vernon for a tour, returned and attended a baseball game between Washington and Boston. Went to bed about 9:30 p.m.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 on Friday, November 7
If you have Scouting history questions or suggestions for future articles, please email Andy Dubill at firstname.lastname@example.org.