Look in my drawers, and see inside my head / Mira en mis cajones, y mira dentro de mi cabeza

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I came across a couple of little treasures while cleaning out a drawer. On the surface I’m almost always completely in order. But just look in my closet or open a desk drawer and you’ll see how unsettled the inside of my head actually is.

The first discovery was my father’s pocket knife* from when he was scout master of our Boy Scout troop. I was in the Cub Scouts before we left Long Island for Brooklyn. I didn’t like it. The co-op in Brooklyn was brand new and a Boy Scout troop was being formed. My father went to a meeting with our neighbor Harry Gehenna (not his real name). His son and I were the same age and friends at the time. Before the two men left for the meeting, I told my father, “Don’t sign up for anything because I’m not joining.” I was 10 and he had been trying for years to make me more of a man. They returned from the meeting and Harry shook my hand. “Congratulations,” he said in his screechy, raspy voice, “Your father’s the new scout master.” Harry was the new assistant scout master. My father just looked at my mother. That was his plan.

*Note: Reader Mary pointed out it’s a Girl Scout pocket knife. It must have belonged to my sister, Dale.

Work was too hectic and the Boy Scouts required too much of my father’s time. He lasted long enough for us to go on our first overnighter. Tent camping. It wasn’t bad, except I had to use a latrine. The other kids loved my father. Handsome, manly, cool, authoritative, he had their respect. When my father left, Harry happily stepped in. He was incapable of gaining the boys’ respect. We went on another overnighter and stayed in a cabin. Harry and some others were in a separate room. The boys were wild all night. Harry would come in and screech at them. Someone would sneak up behind him and pull down his pajama pants. It was embarrassing. But we had flush toilets. I quit the next week. I hated being a Boy Scout.

I also found a silver windmill spoon from Amsterdam. I thought we had bought it for San Geraldo’s mother and ended up with it after she died. He didn’t remember that. He thought perhaps it had come from Dale. Dale did have a silver spoon collection. But that went to my niece. So, I have no idea why I would have this one. I polished it — with toothpaste and a toothbrush.

The Brownie cap at top was Dale’s. My mother was a Girl Scout leader (for a few months) during our first years on Long Island. I was less than 3 years old and was always taken along to meetings. I loved being a Brownie.


Me encontré con un par de pequeños tesoros mientras limpiaba un cajón. En la superficie casi siempre estoy completamente en orden. Pero solo mire en mi armario o abra un cajón del escritorio y verá cuán inquieto está el interior de mi cabeza.

El primer descubrimiento fue la navaja de bolsillo de mi padre cuando era maestro explorador de nuestra tropa de Boy Scouts. Estuve en los Cub Scouts antes de que nos fuéramos de Long Island a Brooklyn. No me gustó. La cooperativa en Brooklyn era nueva y se estaba formando una tropa de Boy Scouts. Mi padre fue a una reunión con nuestro vecino Harry Gehenna (no es su nombre real). Su hijo y yo teníamos la misma edad y amigos en ese momento. Antes de que los dos hombres se fueran a la reunión, le dije a mi padre: “No te inscribas en nada porque no me voy a unir”. Yo tenía 10 años y él había estado tratando durante años de hacerme más hombre. Regresaron de la reunión y Harry me estrechó la mano. “Felicitaciones”, dijo con su voz chillona y ronca, “tu padre es el nuevo maestro explorador”. Harry era el nuevo ayudante del maestro explorador. Mi padre solo miró a mi madre. Ese era su plan.

*Nota: Mary señaló que es una navaja de bolsillo Girl Scout. Debe haber pertenecido a mi hermana, Dale.

Su trabajo diario era demasiado agitado y los Boy Scouts requerían demasiado del tiempo de mi padre. Duró lo suficiente para que fuéramos en nuestra primera noche al campo. Nos quedamos en tiendas de campaña. No estuvo mal, excepto que tuve que usar una letrina. Los otros niños amaban a mi padre. Guapo, varonil, sereno, autoritario, tenía su respeto. Cuando mi padre se fue, Harry intervino felizmente. Era incapaz de ganarse el respeto de los niños. Pasamos otra noche y nos quedamos en una cabaña. Harry y algunos otros estaban en una habitación separada. Los chicos estuvieron salvajes toda la noche. Harry entraba y les gritaba. Alguien se le acercaría sigilosamente por detrás y le bajaría los pantalones del pijama. Fué embarazoso. Pero teníamos inodoros con descarga. Renuncio a la semana siguiente. Odiaba ser un Boy Scout.

También encontré una cuchara de molino de viento, de plata, de Amsterdam. Pensé que lo habíamos comprado para la madre de San Geraldo y terminé con él después de su muerte. Él no recordaba eso. Pensó que tal vez había venido de Dale. Dale tenía una colección de cucharas de plata. Pero eso fue para mi sobrina. Entonces, no tengo idea de por qué tendría este. Lo pulí, con pasta de dientes y un cepillo de dientes.

La gorra de Brownie en la parte superior era de Dale. Mi madre fue líder de Girl Scouts (durante unos meses) en nuestros primeros años en Long Island. Tenía menos de 3 años y siempre me llevaban a las reuniones. Me encantaba ser un Brownie.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

35 thoughts on “Look in my drawers, and see inside my head / Mira en mis cajones, y mira dentro de mi cabeza”

  1. Though my father was never Scoutmaster, my mother was a Den Mother and so I was a Boy Scout.
    Hated it. Didn’t last long.
    I would have liked that knife though.

    1. Bob:
      I have to do an update. Mary pointed out to me that it’s actually a Girl Scout knife. I suppose it was Dales’s.

  2. In Canada, Brownies have just recently officially changed the name of that organization to “Sparks.” Little girls of colour weren’t joining because the traditional name was being used to tease and denigrate them. The new name is free from inadvertent racialized overtones.

    1. Debra:
      That’s so great about the Brownies name change. No stirrings of a change in the USA. Pretty soon they won’t be letting people of color join anyway.

  3. I was a Brownie for one year and that was that. My son was in Boy Scouts for a few years and wasn’t very interested in it. X was an Eagle Scout and was the Boy Scout Youth Representative in 1976 or 7. He presented the scouting report to President Ford. He wasn’t interested in scouting either. He said he went to scouts because his dad took him. I wonder if anyone wants to be a Boy Scout. Certainly not you!


    1. janiejunebug:
      I had one childhood friend who remained in the Scouts all the way through high school. He was not considered cool. Besides that, it was way too military for me.

  4. SO relate to your struggles with Boy Scouts! I lasted just one meeting. I thought they were all a tad crazy with the ‘dib dib dibs and the whatever elses’.
    I should have tried out the Brownies/Girl Scouts……..really.
    I LOVE that Jack-Knife!

    1. Jim:
      They especially lost me with “for god and my country.” And then there were all the activities with those macho wannabes.

    1. Frank:
      I used to look forward to the cookies sales at work every year, although I didn’t like the fact that parents were selling the cookies for the girl scouts. I buy better cookies now.

  5. Just like Jimbo ~ I lasted one night (a thunderous rain storm was going on to add to the dismay of WTF is going on!)

    1. Ron:
      I love tent camping, as long as there are hot showers and flush toilets at the campgrounds. It wasn’t so pleasant being crammed into a pup tent with several others I didn’t even like.

  6. I love the spoon! Is it lying on a facsimile of the Rosetta Stone?

    I loved being a Cub Scout and I didn’t mind being a Webelo, but when I became a Boy Scout I hated it. The kids were older and meaner. I was the youngest kid in a troop that included older high school kids and they eventually drove me out. The scoutmaster’s response to any kind of bullying was, “Boys will be boys!”

    1. Steve:
      Yes! That’s my Rosetta Stone mouse pad purchased at the British Museum 4 years ago. It’s seen better days. ”Boys will be boys” tended to be the response to any kind of bullying when I was a kid. My father didn’t even say it, his sneer at my lack of bullying skills said it all.

  7. I was a Brownie for a while around the 3rd grade. Didn’t do any camping or sleep-aways because I was a bedwetter. My mother wished I was more “girly” and told me a few years before she died that she didn’t get the daughter she’d wanted. It was the dementia talking, but still….*sigh*

    I’ve been meaning to tell you, Mitchell, that I think you’re even more handsome now than when you were younger.

    1. TexasTrailerParkTrash:
      Well, I know both my parents were unhappy that I didn’t grow up the athletic macho they had hoped for. They were both proud as I got older in different ways, although it was never easy. But they sure added to my misery as a child. Thanks for the kind comment about how I’ve aged. Interestingly, I like my looks better now, too — although I wish I had grown into them before I lost all my hair and got all these wrinkiles!

  8. “Harry Gehenna” that’s just brilliant. I’m still smiling at that one. I tried Cub Scouts and found it confusing; should’ve gone out for the Brownies.

    1. Wicked Hamster:
      I knew you’d get the name. There was a reason for that, but I’ll have to tell you privately. Brownies were so much more fun.

  9. I was never in the Boy Scouts and thank God my father never made me join. He had nothing to do it really either Had I been in the Boy Scouts I probably wouldn’t have lasted long. I would have been kicked out giving the boys mouth to mouth, only it wouldn’t have been their mouth my lips were around!! I was very Wily even at that age. But my dad and I often did have camping excursions with many other neighbor friends when I was young. I always thought camping was fun actually when I was little.

    1. Mistress Borghese:
      I never went camping with my father. I loved it when I got older (as long as there was a hot shower and a flush toilet),

  10. Just a thought…are you sure that is a Boy Scout knife? Think it might be Girl Scout (Dale’s?) knife–that color green was the same as GS uniforms (back in my day) and you can see GS initials on the top. Like I said, just a thought.

    1. Mary:
      Thank you yet again! I didn’t even notice the GS. It must have been Dale’s from Girl Scouts! I’ll add a note. What would I do without you?

  11. I was in the Cub Scouts. Briefly. It seems to be a common thread here that most kids hated the experience, as I did, and that it was basically a “parent thing”; either an attempt to get us kids to “man-” or “girl-” up, or just a means of getting us out of the house for a convenient evening per week… Jx

    1. Jon:
      I had one childhood friend (a brief childhood friend). He was the only one I knew who remained in the Scouts through high school. He was an Eagle Scout and wore his uniform proudly. SO uncool.

  12. My son attempted baseball for a couple of years (didn’t last… he was more interested in looking for bugs in the outfield) and didn’t even want to try scouts, which was fine with us. We did refer to him as an honorary Girl Scout since I was the leader for my girls and he always had to stay for the meetings after school. He was fine with that. Good snacks and fun crafts!

    1. Kelly:
      Yes! I remember the snacks and crafts with the Brownies. And then my sister went away to Girl Scout Camp (she was still a Brownie) and loved it. Never my experience of the Boy Scouts and all their military swagger.

  13. Sleeping in a tent? My idea of roughing it staying at a Holiday Inn. I was never a scout, long story short, my mother was to thrifty to buy the uniforms.

    1. David:
      I love sleeping in a tent. But that’s as far as I’ll go. Flush toilets and hot showers are required. I’m ok with someone else cooking over a campfire.

  14. My dad went through the scout mast stage, too. I was a cub scout for a short time and hated it. Then I was a webelo and my dad was assistant master (or whatever they call them). I hated that, too. It didn’t last long, though; it cut into dad’s drinking time. There was a high point: we went on a field trip to the New England Aquarium in Boston.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      All it cut into for my father was his working time. Also, he liked some of the other boys more than he liked me. We never went on a field trip. Hmmm.

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