Camp Billy Gibbons

By Bill Philpott

Camp Billy Gibbons

In 1941, Troop 101 from Cisco won Honor Camper designation by sweeping most every activity, including talent night.  Since we had had no adult sponsor, a play, written on scrap paper, authored by L. J. Donohoe, won First Place, but the hit of the event was song, written by Bob Davis  A popular hit of that year was "A Sleepy Lagoon" which was sung by Dorothy Lamour in one of the "Road Pictures," with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.  The song lyrics went something like this:

A stinking latrine,
A typical scene,
Round Camp Billy Gibbons.
The tumble bugs roll
Around the one holer
They sparkle and glimmer

Sorry, but try as I might, I cannot remember the rest of the words.  Boy Davis and L. J. Donohoe have both been dead for several years, and the others I have contacted do no better than I at remembering.  The play we did was an adaptation of a high school play.  Probably the senior play at Cisco that year.

I attended Boy Scout camp at Billy Gibbons as a member of Troop 101, Cisco, in 1939, 1940, and 1941.  I barely missed the 1938 camp because my 12th birthday did not come until July 26.  That meant I had to sit and listen when the older ones told about he "Big Flood" when the whole camp had to hike out through the hills.

The camp was for three weeks, beginning on a Tuesday each week, but the excessive cost ($6.00 per week) limited nearly all of Troop 101 to one week, only two or three of our Troop could afford more than one week.

The site was a paradise -- Thousands (I don't know how many) of acres which we were free to roam.  We could participate in close-to-camp activities, crafts and contests, or explore up Brady Creek up or down the San Saba, swim or fish or do nothing.  We came the hundred miles by school bus or flat bed truck, with cots, one little tent, gallons of citronella, and a few clothes. 

We were at the end of the line for sponsors by 1940.  Scoutmaster S. E. Hittson was too smart to take us (Ranching chores) and the word had gotten around to the point that in 1941, we had no volunteers, so we took ourselves.  Of course Mr. Quirl assigned a friendly Scoutmaster from somewhere else to act as look-out (as in be sure and look-out so they won't get you).  Troop 101 had in previous years been what might be called the laughing stock of the Comanche Trail Council.

That year, though, the 16 who went decided we would show them. We won Honor Camper by sweeping every athletic event, placed first in nearly every competition, including cleanliness, which was next to impossible.  If it had not been in writing, nobody in Cisco would have ever believed that.

We didn't stint on the fun things either.  We made the rounds of Crystal Cave, Honeycomb Cave, all the springs, the old pioneer trail where the wagons wore deep ruts in the limestone crossing Brady Creek, scouted for deer, and floated down the river on tree stumps and logs.  I haven't been back since 1941.  Tom Freeland, who was the same age (from Brownwood) and I worked together in Midland and Odessa in the late '50s, had made a camping trip there about 1958, and told me it wasn't the same after the constriction and I be be disappointed.

S. E. Hittson was 101 Scoutmaster for any years.  The First Presbyterian Church footed the bill for all the basics.  We did have to pay dues -- 50 cents a year.  I was home on leave from the Navy in 1944, and Mr. Hittson reminded me that I was delinquent on my dues, and to pay up or else.  I paid up.

Bill Philpott
August 4, 1998

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