Memories of Old Camp Billy Gibbons by Alan Burton

Remembrances/Ramblings of Camp Billy Gibbons. Attended the summer of 1943 and got very homesick. Extended for two week sessions in 1944 & 1945 and was member of the 'Bull Gang' for two summers.

At the canteen, due to the wartime sugar shortage, olives and pickles were sold instead of candy. I do not recall what refreshments, if any, were sold.

Taking a bar of Lifebouy soap to the 'bathtub' on Brady Creek to bathe and wash clothes. I wonder if anyone cared that it was 'upstream' from where we swam?

Someone breaking into my footlocker and taking the cookies my mother sent. I knew who it was but never told. It was an older scout and I never had much use for him anymore.

Mr. Bums walking around at each meal with that stupid 'pig' he awarded to recruit kitchen help.

Hike Day! Trekking to 'cold spring' on the San Saba River and shooting the rapids until your bottom and the bathing suit bottom were gone. Don't forget those wonderful cold lunches we were given.

Hike Day follow-up. Going to the First Aid tent and getting my bottom doctored caused by shooting the rapids.

Missing Hike Day due to a run-in with a blister bug. My worst experience at camp.

Arriving at camp, setting up tents, clearing the ground, lining up rocks, hoping that our troop would be selected for the best campsite.

Stunt Night. Some were good, some (Editor's note: Most, Alan!) were terrible but David Camp's rendition of his 'guzzler's gin' routine is the one I remember.

Winning the watermelon-eating contest one time, seeds and all. Knew I would have appendicitis for sure.

Being talked into cave exploring but did not like it one bit. Crawled out backwards and was never tempted to do that ever again.

Looking for arrowheads at the site of the last meeting of the Great Comanche Chiefs located where the Brady Creek and the San Saba River meet. Also the historian from the University of Texas that told the stories about the council and the fires that guided the tribes to that site. As the troop bugler, I got to blow the bugle at camp a few times. My favorite was retreat. It still is.

Canoeing and LifesavingRed Cross Jr. Lifesaving Course almost killed me. Long hours in the water and the final swimming exam was tough. Came back to my cot exhausted one afternoon, flopped down and a snake came out from under my footlocker. Was ready to go back to the course then.

When initiated into the Order of the Arrow, my partner and I were assigned to Kunieh draw to build our fire (cedar does pop and send out chunks of coals), meditate, remain silent and then sleep. You were on your honor about not speaking. My partner talked a blue streak and I forgot and answered a few times. The next morning when we were asked, I told how many words I had spoken and was penalized with more silent time. It came his turn; he shook his head that he had said nothing. Lesson learned. Glad to say he was not a Brownwood boy.

Looking at all those caves on the San Saba River, wondering what was living there and if they were coming to eat us up.

One night before camp opened and was working with the bull gang, an animal screamed in the middle of the night, waking all of us and our minds went wild. Light sleep the next days.

Winter camp was a great experience between Christmas and New Year's Day. My last one I climbed in a tree with my bow and arrow, along came a deer, I shot, missed. Hard to say who was the most scared, the deer or me.

Coming home from camp once, Jimmy Mayes had his open air model A Ford. It was not running very well so all of the passengers took turns riding on the front right fender pouring gas into the carburetor. We made it home. The Lord does look after infants and fools!

The year after my last camp trip, Hamon decided he didn't want the scouts on the ranch and had it bulldozed. I understand an agreement was reached and the camp was moved. I have never been back to see where it is located.

This story was taken from the Brownwood High School Class of 1947 newsletter "The Roar of '47", newsletter #8, Fall, 1999. edited by Jim White.

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