These old Scouts just can't seem to stop Scouting

February 12, 1992|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

Dec. 7, 1941, was a memorable day for the Boy Scouts of Troop 146. They erected the first support posts for their cabin at Camp Arrowhead, on the Big Gunpowder River.

It was only while waiting to catch the bus home on Belair Road that they learned Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

"We'll sure never forget that day," said Andrew Goss, 77, of Perry Hall, who was scoutmaster of the Overlea-area troop at the time.

They also remember a day later in World War II when a group of Troop 146 Scouts hiking through the woods near Thurmont, in Frederick County, were suddenly surrounded by armed Marines with snarling guard dogs.

"We didn't know it, but we had run into what President [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt called 'Shangri-la,' what is now Camp David," recalled Howard J. Roeder, 69, a retired toolmaker who has been affiliated with the troop since 1935. "The Marines ran us off."

These were among the hundreds of recollections among members of the Senior Association of Troop 146, some of whom joined the troop in the early 1930s and left it only to fight in the war.

They met last night at Epiphany Lutheran Church, at Raspe and Marluth avenues, the troop's home for more than 70 years.

Their recollections in interviews before the reunion made it clear that Boy Scout membership left an indelible impression. "Once a Scout, always a Scout," said Bernard W. Dieter, 49, a Troop 146 official since 1972 and scoutmaster since 1985.

"Those were the golden days, the 1930s and 1940s," said Robert Goss, 67, a retired aerospace engineer who lives in Silver Spring, and among the most enthusiastic Troop 146 veterans.

"These are people I've known for 50 years, and it's a matter of remembering people and the things we did," said Mr. Goss, who was a member of the Broken Arrow patrol in the troop.

"That was our outlet. We did things no other troops did," he said, "and we had a lot of senior officers then. When you're 12 or 13 years old, it seems like they're a lot older and have been all over the world. It was a marvelous meeting of young and old. We had looked up to those men."

Competition among the troop's patrols was fierce, he said. "Every boy wanted his patrol to be the best. Blazing Arrow got so good at knot-

tying that we did it behind our backs -- faster than most others could do it in front."

For most of the old Boy Scouts, World War II and Korea changed their lives and changed them from boys to men.

Andrew Goss, Robert's elder brother, said at least 75 members of the troop served in the military during the wars.

One of them, Capt. John S. Walmsley Jr., 31, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroics as a B-26 bomber pilot in Korea in leading an attack on a heavily armed enemy supply train in 1951.

Robert Goss joined Troop 146 in 1937 when he became 12 and left in 1943 to join the Army. "Everyone went in the service as he came of age. It broke up the troop because when we came back we were a little too old to mix with the boys in it then," he said.

Most of the Senior Association members dropped out of Scouting after the war and were reunited for the first time only in 1990 when Troop 146 invited all former members to a 70th-anniversary party.

At the party, they decided to form the Senior Association -- for former troop members 40 and older -- to hold an annual get-together. Last night was their third.

Troop 146 is one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in the Baltimore area, members said. So far, 47 former members have joined the Senior Association, 42 from the Baltimore area and five from other states.

Most of the men joined the troop during Andrew Goss' time as scoutmaster. Andrew Goss said he was a few months too old for military service so he was able to keep the troop going during the war years.

Andrew Goss was actually a late-comer to the Boy Scouts, joining at 16 instead of 12, "because my mother wouldn't let me cross Belair Road, and you don't argue with your mother," he said.

He wanted to join Troop 33 at Gatch Memorial Church, at White Avenue and Belair Road, but because of the crossing ban he couldn't.

"I borrowed the Scout Handbook from a friend and studied it so that when I joined Troop 178, at St. Anthony's on Frankford Avenue, in 1931, I was ready and a little bit more," Andrew Goss said.

"They made me a patrol leader when I joined; I had it together and I loved it. It's a big part of my life. Boy Scouts is the best thing ever invented," said the retired construction superintendent, who oversaw the building of the first Shock Trauma Center at University Hospital.

Andrew Goss joined Troop 146 in 1935 as assistant scoutmaster and took over the top job the next year. "I stayed until 1948, but I had to drop out. I was working at Bethlehem Steel and we had seven kids -- a son and six daughters."

He returned to Scouting in 1962 when his son, another Robert, joined Troop 746 at St. Joseph's Church in Fullerton. "I was the scoutmaster for five years, until Robert joined the Army. I was just too busy to stay any longer."

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