International Flare

Bids for Peace

In 1937, there were fifteen Senior Scouts and three Scout leaders in Del Rio who had the thought that a fellowship light might promote peace and goodwill throughout the world.  Peace and goodwill, two of the cardinal principles of the Boy Scouts were very much in evidence, when a flare column was built on top of Round Mountain outside of Del Rio.  The pillar was of simple construction with five sides, with a kerosene drum and flare housed in the top.  The flare was lighted on Friday night, December 3, 1937, from a great bonfire, as one of the events of a camporee.  One hundred boys participated in the camporee with camp sites set up on the Scout Grounds, located between the First Methodist and First Presbyterian Churches. 

The flare was international in nature, as Round Mountain that it was built on, enabled one to see the flicker of light of the burning torch both in Mexico and the United States. 

1936 - Photo of Scouts who helped build the flare column atop Round Mountain.  The group, from left to right, includes Charles Tagliabue, Jr., Grover Poole, Joe Stool, Gerald Lackey, Clay Grimes, John Walk, Jim Netts, Billy Richmond, Jean Tate, Matias Sanchez, Reynoldo Reyes, and (sitting) Castulo Gutierrez.

The Scouts constructed the pillar themselves, carried the necessary supplies on their backs up the side of the steep hill.   It was of interest that two Spanish American troops sponsored by the L.U.L.A.C. Society participated in this gesture for world peace. Each of the five troops and one Sea Scout Ship took turns by months to keep the flare burning all through the year. No one group could claim credit for the peace flare, as it was the outcome of the thoughts and feelings of the various Del Rio Scouts and Scout leaders.

The units that helped build the flare site were:
Troop 70, Hilary Doran, Scoutmaster
Troop 71, C. N. Parsons, Scoutmaster
Troop 73, E. O. Blackshire, Scoutmaster
Troop 76, Ralph Ross, Scoutmaster
Troop 77, Pilar Garza, Scoutmaster
Sea Scout Ship 70

The pillar was filled with oil and kept burning for one year as a symbol of peace and good will from December 3, 1937 to December 3, 1938.  The pillar was dark for fifteen years, until February 8, 1952.  That day was selected as the day to kindle the light once again, on the day of the birthday of Scouting in America.  Elaborate ceremonies were held for the lighting of the pillar once again.  The Scouts met at the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce and marched one mile to the Brown Plaza in San Felipe.  There they were met by the San Felipe Latin-American high School band, and then they marched another mile to Round Mountain, led by the band.

A ceremony was held at the crest of Round Mountain, where the pillar was located.  The fire was relighted by Pilar Garza, Del Rio Scoutmaster, who was the holder of the Silver Beaver and one of the three adults who assisted in erecting of the pillar in 1937.  Following the lighting of the pillar, all those present closed the event by repeating the Scout Oath.  It only burned for that one night.

We know that one of the original builders of the pillar, John H. Walk of Del Rio, was killed in Germany during World War II.  As of 1952, two of the three leaders, who helped build the pillar, were still residents of Del Rio and were still active in Scout work.  One was Sam H. Walk, father of John, and the other was Pilar Garza, a local grocer. 

Walk had served as President of the Concho Valley Council from 1947 through 1948 and was a representative to the National Council. Walk was presented the Silver Beaver in 1939.  Garza had been a Scoutmaster for 27 years.  He was presented the Silver Beaver in 1948.  The third leader was Boyd Loveless. later with the West Texas Utilities in Sonora.  Here is what was recalled by Sam Walk in 1952 about what had happened to some of the Scouts:

Herbert Bradle became a minister.
Joe Stool attended college.
Gerald Lackey became a rancher.
Clay Grimes became a bookkeeper for Humble Oil Company (now Exxon Mobil)
Jimmy Netts became a Scout Field Executive in San Antonio
Jean Tate moved to San Antonio
Beckley Smith, no information
Grover Poole, became a chemical engineer living in Columbus, TX
Charles Tagliabue, Jr. went into the grocery business
Matias Sanchez, moved to San Antonio, was a war veteran and later in government service.
Jose Sarsosa, was a war veteran living in California
Joe Flores, was a war veteran also living in California
Castulo Gutierrez worked in government service in Del Rio
Reynoldo Reyes, no information



Material for this story was taken from "Panjandrum A History of Scouting in the Concho Valley Council 1911-1941," by Frank T. Hilton, 1990, and from the Standard-Times, February 6, 1952

Last Updated:  February 27, 2004
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