Bubba is Still There

July 28, 2016

Last week, I joined Will’s Boy Scout troop for a few days of summer camp at Raven Knob Scout Reservation near Mount Airy, North Carolina. I always look forward to these outings, primarily because they are an opportunity to spend treasured time with Will, but also because I am committed to giving back to the Scouting organization that has given so much to me over the years.

I was particularly looking forward to visiting Raven Knob with Will because our visit would mark the second and third generation of Wagoners being campers there. Raven Knob had been the camp of my father, his brothers, and cousin (Eagle Scouts all) when they were Boy Scouts in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

That was a long time ago. But, I’m a sentimental guy, and I liked the idea of continuing the legacy. And, despite the passage of time, I hoped against hope that I might be able to find physical confirmation of the fact that Will’s and my visit to Raven Knob would constitute something of a “coming home” – and so, upon arrival, I began my search for Uncle Bubba’s water fountain.

Oh, how I wanted to get a photo of Will and me at that fountain. I steeled myself for it not being there. My uncle Bill had looked for it on Google Earth, and saw that a waterfront shelter now stood in its place. “Time marches on,” he said. Still, I hoped. Sure, it had been over 50 years, and no one there remembered, but would they really have gotten rid of it?

They hadn’t. The fountain, though moved from its original location, was still there, right in the center of things at the waterfront, just as I had always imagined Bubba to be. Though there were few left who still had first-hand memories of the reason for that fountain, they hadn’t forgotten.

Fountain at waterfront

Back story: On an August night in 1957, my 16 year old uncle Carroll “Bubba” Wagoner was the driver of a car carrying four friends down a mountain road. Going too fast, he missed a curve at the bottom, and slammed into a truck. Bubba was killed instantly, and two of his friends died shortly thereafter.

A couple of years later, a granite water fountain was erected in Bubba’s memory at the Raven Knob waterfront. Here’s a photo of my grandparents, their grief still raw, at the dedication:Fountain at dedication

 

I never met Bubba; I was Bubba's plaqueBubba Wagonerborn six years after that hot August night when he and two friends became a tragic example of just how fragile and fleeting life can be. In addition to carrying his name, though, I have always felt that I knew him. Family ties and stories run strong in my clan. I know that he got the nickname “Bubba” because his 3-year old big brother (my Dad) mispronounced “brother” as “bubba”. I know that he was precocious and mischievous, and always in the thick of things. I know that he loved Scouting. I know that, with my middle name of Carroll, I have a lot to live up to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the photo of the 2nd and 3rd generation Wagoners at the fountain:

Fountain with Will 1

My family is deeply grateful to those at Raven Knob Scout Reservation for ensuring that, despite the passage of time, Bubba is still there. I’m especially grateful to Camp Historian Ken Badgett, and Camp Director Keith Bobbitt, for their graciousness and for their interest in knowing more about Bubba’s story.


Redefinition

February 20, 2010

This afternoon I’m taking my Cub Scout den to see the U.Va vs. Maryland wrestling match. In addition to being a fun outing that will help them satisfy one of their requirements for a badge, I thought that going to a collegiate wrestling match would be educational as well. When I told my 6-year-old son about the planned outing, he confirmed my hunch.

“Will we get to see The Undertaker? Because my friend said The Undertaker took down Romeo Roselli.”

“Um, no Will, that’s a different kind of wrestling. That kind is fake, but the kind we are going to see is real.”

“Oh. Will they still get bleedy?”

This should be an eye-opening experience for this group of 6 and 7 year-olds. I hope they won’t be disappointed when no one gets hit over the head with a folding chair.


To Build a Fire*

November 22, 2006


As with all things having to do with the outdoors, and nearly everything else of any import, my Dad taught me how to build a fire. We spent many a Saturday burning brush in the backyard. Using more than one match or resorting to gas to get things going was frowned upon, and wet wood was only an inconvenience. There is always dry tinder to be found if you know where to look.

Those backyard lessons came in handy as I started spending frequent weekends on Boy Scout campouts. Campfires heated water for cocoa and oatmeal in the mornings, and sometimes produced “scrambled pancakes” if we forgot a spatula and had to turn them with a fork. In the evenings, we might have vegetables cooked in aluminum foil, generally crunchy and underdone, but if we were lucky they would be followed by a cobbler baked in the Dutch oven nestled in the glowing coals. Later, we would huddle around the fire and talk, but mostly we would just sit and stare, mesmerized by the flames.

My Boy Scout days are long behind me, and camping opportunities of any sort are few and far between these days, but I still use those fire-making skills on a regular basis. Usually, it’s to burn leaves or brush in my own backyard,

but with three girl scouts and a 3-year old around, marshmallows often enter into the picture.

Thanks Dad, for teaching me how to do it.

*With apologies to Jack London .


Where It Began

May 26, 2006


Rummaging through old pictures….

My outdoor adventuring got off to a less than auspicious start in the summer of 1975, as a newly-minted Boy Scout at Camp Shenandoah. My troop arrived at camp on Sunday afternoon, and when my parents came for family night on the following Thursday, they found me laying in my tent with pneumonia and a 104 degree temperature. I had been having such a good time that I didn’t want to let anyone know that I was sick. Suffice it to say that we didn’t stick around for the family night campfire.

In the photo I’m in the second row, 5th from the left.