Boy Scout history in Dallas’s White Rock area

Background

Pack 862 is a Cub Scout pack in Dallas’s White Rock area. It is chartered by the Hexter Elementary PTA. I’ve been involved for seven years as a volunteer and, before that, six years as a Unit Commissioner. This article’s origin is an exploration of Pack 862’s history.

Pack 568

Pack 568 was at Hexter Elementary, starting in the mid-1950s. Some accounts show this to be a large pack with several dens. It appears to have disbanded in the 1970s.

Monte Miller, a brand new Wolf Scout in Pack 568 in 1955. He says his Cub Scout friends taught him how to properly roll the neckerchief and tie the ends together.
Monte Miller sharing his Pack 568 Cub Scout adventures with Frisky the cat in February 1955.
May 1956 photo of Monte Miller at the end of his Bear year (3rd grade) and younger brother Mark Miller at the end of his Wolf year (second grade).
Pack 568 Lion or Webelos Cubs doing vegetable puppets, possibly in the Hexter Elementary auditorium. People in the photo: unknown, Louis Chaney, unknown, Monte Miller, Ricky Roberts, unknown, unknown.

Monte Miller, of 575 Bondstone, has these recollections of Pack 568:

Den meetings were held weekly. At the time, our Den Leader was one of the Cub Scouts mothers. Activities were varied, always fun, snacks provided and we all earned advancement points.

Evening Pack meetings were always well attended. Formal ceremonies opened the Pack meeting prior to full Pack and/or Den activities. In good weather, we had games outside where we burned off lots of energy.

I recall many Pack field trips to interesting places in Dallas. The DrPepper plant tour was always a favorite as we could drink all the DrPepper we could hold.

During the Mrs Baird’s Bakery tour, we were allowed to grab a hot loaf just as the bread came out of the ovens on conveyor belts. The place smelled delicious and we always burned our fingers and tongues on the hot bread. I seem to recall taking home small souvenir loaves.

Touring the big Dallas Power & Light facility was a bit like a Mad Max movie. Scary cool!

The Pack’s tour of the Frito factory is not one of my fondest Cub Scout memories. As we were enjoying being treated royally, we stopped by a large conveyor belt of fretting baked Cheetos. Our tour guide told us to grab some. As we Cubs were hungry all the time, we -and especially me- woofed down more wears Cheetos than we should have. By the time we got to our cars and headed home, I tossed up a belly full of those Cheetos. For many, many years afterward I could not smell a Cheeto without a gag reflex turning my stomach.

Billy Montgomery, from 549 Parkhurst, remembers starting first grade at Hexter in 1959. He probably joined Pack 568 in 1960 as a second grader. His den mother was Peggy Dowleren, who lived at 622 Brookhurst. Peggy’s son Tommy was in Billy’s den. Gerald Brahinsky was also involved, and his father Henry was Cubmaster.

Pack 568’s Den 9 visits Dallas’s Central Fire Station, probably on March 8, 1959.

Pictured in the photo:

  • Top row: Carol Perkins, Maggie McCaffrey, Don Perkins (was not in Pack 568), Don’s brother Richard Perkins
  • Middle row: Howard Cantwell, Robert Feagan, unknown boy
  • Bottom row, on left: Jim Sowell, Mike McCaffery, Roger Sims (?) (the youngest boy, later went to Troop 55?)

Not pictured: Den mother of Den 9: Shirley Sowell.

Jim Sowell, bottom left in the above picture, recalls above fire station visit being from March 8, 1959. He recalls possibly being sad in the picture: he may have learned that his favorite SMU basketball player, Bobby James, died in a fire that same day while visiting his family in Ruston, LA. Jim went on to Troop 49 at Casa Linda Presbyterian and became an Eagle Scout.  He later served as President of Circle Ten Council. At Camp Wisdom, Billy Sowell Scout Camp and Shirley Sowell Cub World are father and mother, respectively.

Raylan Loggins, of the Peninsula neighborhood, started Hexter in 1961 and joined Pack 568 as a Wolf in 1963. He went through the program, eventually becoming Troop 861’s fourth Eagle Scout.

Raylan recalls Pack 568 having Webelos when he joined. His Cubmaster was Bill Binford, from about 1963-1965. Jim Wright took over from Bill.

Jim Baker attended Hexter Elementary in 1966-1973 (1st through 7th grades) and was in Pack 568 and Troop 568. The pack’s meetings were at Hexter. (Side note: Jim’s ended his Cub Scout career as the Arrow of Light award was being introduced. Previously, one would earn a Lion badge, and the final Cub Scout badge was the Webelos badge. It transitioned to roughly the Webelos badge replacing Lion and Arrow of Light replacing the old Webelos badge. Jim was awarded both the (old) Webelos and (new) Arrow of Light badges.)

Ted Dodson, of 828 Peavy Road, was in Pack 568’s Den 6 from 1957-1960. His mother Phyllis was his den mother.

Den 6 met weekly at Ted’s house. Den 6 had eight members, some of whom were Ted and Doug Coldwell, Rob Curtis, Jay Vestal, and Mike McCaffrey, all friends who lived near his house. Ted got his Webelos rank in 1960. His family moved to North Dallas, where he continued on in Scouting with Troop 806.

Ted has these memories of Pack 568 and Scouting:

Pack 568 was very active and had at least 50 boys participating. We all were especially proud to wear our uniforms to school on the day of our weekly Den meeting and for special occasions.

We took field trips that included one very special memory where we all flew in a propeller driven DC3 from Dallas Love Field to Fort Worth Amon Carter Field. For most of us, this was our very first plane trip. I remember being frightened, but in awe as we became airborne. We became alarmed when our ears started “popping” as the old WWII vintage airplane gained altitude. The adults handed out chewing gum to mitigate the change in cabin pressure. The boys all remarked that the cars looked like ants. We touched down at Amon Carter Field after a very short trip and took back off to Love Field. Some of the boys suffered from motion sickness and the adults had to clean up the plane before we all got off.

Another vivid memory was the Pinewood Derby. Once a year, all of the boys would buy a special race car kit that consisted of a small block of wood and four wheels with little wooden axle mounting brackets. Also included were four screws that served as the axles. We were given 2 weeks to build a race car by carving the woodblock and mounting the wheels. Adults could supervise, but were not allowed to help. There was a weight limit of 6 ounces [today’s limit is only 5 ounces! -Aren]. I was the winner of the Den 6 entries and also won the quarter final race, but lost in the semi finals. The 1958 winner was a boy named Chris Dalton.

The pack raised money by participating in different projects including selling light bulbs door to door. We would also make things like pot holders and key chains to sell.

I have fond memories of my time as a Scout and have benefited my entire life from the experience. I often recite the Motto, Pledge and Laws to people including all of my grandkids.

Ted Dodson, member of Pack 568’s Den 6, from 1958.

Pack 566

Existing simultaneously to Pack 568 was Pack 566.

Bill Topper was in Pack 566 starting in 1956.

Rahn Bruster remembers Pack 566 from the early ’60s. He joined in 1960 when he was in third grade. Rahn recalls at least ten dens and 5-6 boys in each den. Here is his memory of some events:

I do remember that we took a train from Dallas to Fort Worth to the Fat Stock Show one year and attended the rodeo. The cast of Bonanza was there and did a short skit. I also remember taking field trips to the top of the Southland Life Building, which at the time was the tallest building west of the Mississippi, and the Mrs. Baird’s bread plant. Also marching in a parade that ended on the field of the Cotton Bowl. Pretty cool stuff when you’re nine.

Also going on overnight camp outs at Star Ranch up near Denton.

Pack 566 met monthly in the Hexter auditorium. All its Scouts went to Hexter.

Raylan Loggins, who was in Pack 568 starting in 1963, recalls a small Pack 566 of 6-8 boys.

Roland Goss may have been the Cubmaster. His sons David and Randy may have been members.

Troop 568 (first iteration)

Troop 568 was where several Pack 568 boys went. It met at Hexter Elementary. At that time, an elementary school sponsoring a Boy Scout troop made sense as Hexter went through seventh grade.

Al Bright recalls being involved in the mid-1950s.

Jim Dodson, Ted Dodson’s father, was Scoutmaster of Troop 568 from 1957-1960. Ted was a Cub Scout in Pack 568 during this time but still participated (he moved to a different part of town before he could join Troop 568). These are his memories of Troop 568:

My father, Jim Dodson, was the Scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop 568 from 1957 until 1960. He earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1938 as a member of a troop in Chickasha, Oklahoma. I was the Troop “Mascot”. Jim Dodson served with several other adult leaders including Mr. Walt Spiro, Mr. Al Bright Sr., Mr. McShan (McShan Florist) and Mr. McCuskey. The Troop met at the auditorium of Victor H. Hexter Elementary School on a weekly basis.

Once a month, the boys [in the troop] would go on a weekend camping trip to one of the several facilities located in the rural areas outside of the Dallas area. These facilities included Camp Wisdom, Camp Texhoma, Camp Constantin, McCamey Farm, Cedar Hill and on land owned by the adult leaders. Many of these camping facilities are now part of suburban Dallas. The troop also staged many of their daytime activities at White Rock Lake. Once a year, scouts could elect to go to summer camp where you would earn some of the more difficult merit badges and fulfill the requirements for advancement during the two week period [today, summer camp is only one week -Aren]. Here, you could be selected to receive the coveted “Order of the Arrow” fellowship status.

The weekend camping trips were rain or shine and occurred regardless of the weather conditions. My dad facilitated the procurement of the first camping equipment used by Troop 568 consisting of 12 four person water resistant tents that were purchased from the Childress Canvas Company. The expensive tents were funded by dues paid by troop members and from the proceeds earned from a shooting gallery booth that was set up during the annual Hexter School Carnival [Cub Scout Pack 862 still runs a booth at this event! -Aren]. The booth structure was built by the adult leaders. The rifles shot rubber bands at ping pong balls resting on top of coke bottles. Carnival goers would pay for a chance to win a small prize if they shot the ping pong ball off of the coke bottle. This booth was stored in our garage and I was a lucky boy to have it to play with when the troop wasn’t using it. Our garage was a popular place for the neighborhood kids to play in. The troop acquired 4 additional tents making a total of 16 by the time we left the troop.

The adult leaders were all military veterans and the troop learned how to march and practiced many military traditions. If a scout misbehaved, he was subject to corporal punishment in the form of “the belt line”. The boys would remove their belts and form a long line. They were staged about four feet apart standing in single file with their legs apart. The victim would be forced to crawl on his hands and knees in between the legs of his fellow troop members while they whipped his backside. The belts were canvas so it didn’t hurt that much, but it was a definite humiliation. We lived in different times. [Yup, different times. Strictly disallowed today. -Aren]

My dad was a good cook and we all looked forward to his Sunday morning pancake breakfast with ice cream on camping trips. He would bring small cups of ice cream stored in a cooler with dry ice and we would scoop the ice cream out on top of our stack of pancakes. We learned to cook using our “mess kits” or in cast iron Dutch ovens. He taught us how to use tin foil to make an envelope that we filled with potatoes, onions and meat. We placed the sealed “package” in the hot coals for 20 minutes and when it was done cooking, enjoyed a hot meal without having to wash dishes. [This is a popular meal in Pack 862 today!]

One of the troop’s favorite activities was when we played “Capture the Flag”. The troop was divided into two equal teams and a large area was designated with boundaries with a center line. A red flag and a white flag were each given to the corresponding team and hidden somewhere within the team’s area. The object was to capture the opponent’s flag without getting tagged. If you were tagged, you were put in “jail”. You could be freed if one of your team members rescued you by risking a daring journey into enemy territory to tag you without getting tagged himself. The game would take hours to play and was especially fun at night.

Scoutmasters of Troop 568:

  • Howard M. Cantwell, Jr., recalled by Monte Miller and Don Perkins as being a highly effective Scoutmaster. His son Howard Marion Cantwell, III was also in Troop 568. (Howard III’s obituary says he got his Eagle Scout awards in 1962 while in Troop 55.)
  • George Feagan followed Cantwell
  • Jim Dodson, 1957-1960

Monte recalls this about Cantwell: “SM Cantwell [brought] a couple crates of CocaCola to summer camp. He guarded them closely but we managed to snatch one or two. He let on as if he didn’t know.” Don Perkins further recalls “I remember he always carried his cokes using only his middle and index fingers. Thought that was so cool.”

Troop 568 1958 Trophy for Oak Leaf Skills event (courtesy Ted Dodson)
Monte Miller (left) and Al Bright (right) are awarded their Eagle Badges on December 5, 1960. Standing with them are parents Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Miller and Mr. and Mrs. William F. Bright. Picture presumably taken at the Hexter Elementary auditorium stage.
Explanation of prior picture, from the Hexter PTA newsletter.
Monte Miller, Robert M. Miller, and Mark Miller, all Eagle Scouts

Monte Miller and his brother Mark earned their Eagle Scout rank in Troop 568. Their father became an Eagle in Dallas’s Troop 1 in 1938, under Scoutmaster T. A. Hord.

Around 1960, Troop 568 disbanded and moved to a new Troop 55 at St. John’s Episcopal Church. The Hexter Elementary facilities were inadequate: the pack and troop may have overwhelmed the facility. At least one person recalls Boy Scout leadership requiring them to switch to the number 55 because St. John’s already had that number. (That makes sense as St. John’s still has Pack 55 today.)

Troop 568 (second iteration)

Jim Baker recalls Troop 568 restarting around 1971. His father, Willard Baker, and also Harris Moore and Mr. Justice were behind reviving Troop 568 in 1971. Jim, David Moore, Kim Clark, Gary Justice, Bill Howard, Gary’s older brother, and more were initial members.

The troop maxed out at 2-3 patrols when Jim became Senior Patrol Leader in 1972.

Troop 568 was not able to meet at Hexter, and Lake Highlands Baptist Church didn’t permit them to meet in their then-new family center. They ended up meeting at the church that preceded Redeemer Bible Church, in a shed-like building in the back of the parking lot. The shed was near Dixon Branch, where they played a lot of games after troop meetings.

Troop 568 again folded after the summer of 1974 when Jim Baker and his friends David Moore and Kim Clark earned their Eagle badges and moved on. No other parents were willing to take on troop leadership.

From Jim:

We camped frequently within a few hours of Dallas. We did not do any long trips or jamborees as a troop, but we did participate in at least one camporee at Camp Wisdom. I remember learning signal flags and Morse code for that one. We went to Summer Camps each of the years from 1971 thru 1974. I recall going to Camp Texoma and Camp Constantin. Texoma has since moved and become Camp James Ray.

A few of us participated in Golden Acorn Leadership Development camp in the Summer of 1972 at Camp Texoma. That program is now called National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT). I staffed Golden Acorn in the Summer of 1973 through the Summer of 1976. For the two years after Troop 568 folded I registered as a Lone Scout using the next Golden Acorn troop number. I earned an additional 10 merit badges for the bronze and gold Eagle Palms as a Lone Scout.

Willard Baker, Mrs. Maker, and James Baker at James’s Eagle Court of Honor in February 1974

Troop 861

Troop 861 is chartered by Central Lutheran Church. It has been around since at least the 1960s.

Troop 861, around 1971 or 1972, after a 50 mile trip down Arkansas’s Buffalo River.
Troop 861, around 1971 or 1972, after a 50 mile trip down Arkansas’s Buffalo River.

The above photos is of Troop 861 members after a 50 mile canoe trip down Arkansas’s Buffalo River. On the bottom photo:

  • Lower left: David Shepard
  • Behind David Shepard: Tom Green
  • On Tom’s right: John Green, Tom’s younger brother
  • Lower right end: John Cox
Troop 861 at a campout.

People depicted in the above photo:

Troop 53

A Troop 53 was chartered around 1998 by the Hexter Elementary PTA. Raylan Loggins was involved with the effort. It was meant to be a “rough and ready”, backpack-type camping troop. A the time, they considered Troop 861 and the rest to emphasize out-of-the-car camping.

Troop 53 is not a historical number. Raylan recalls Circle Ten Council preferring they use Troop 862. They asked for a different number because they didn’t want to be perceived as the only destination for Pack 862 boys, and they asked for that to be a low number. Low numbers have a cachet in Scouting.

Pack 862

Pack 862 t-shirt showing a 1975 founding date.

Pack 862 was founded in 1975, per a t-shirt in our “doghouse” and per Raylan Loggins’s memory. It is possible that it fizzled at some point and was resurrected in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Matt Senter was a Cub Scout at Hexter from 1985 through 1988. David BennettGary McCoy, Ryan Duncan, Tye Walker, and Reid Heim were also in Matt’s den. David’s mom Sally Bennett was the den mother, and Reid’s mom was Assistant Cubmaster. The pack had about 10 boys at the time.

Matt recalls switching to Gary McCoy’s house once he was in Webelos.

When Raylan became involved in Pack 862 in 1992, the pack had 6 boys total, and Sue Higgins was Cubmaster. She was dynamic and got people involved. In 1994, Gary Olp started a five-year tenure as Cubmaster, then Dave Howard became Cubmaster for 2-3 years. I talked with Dave before he passed, and he recalled the pack peaking at around 40 boys during his tenure.

By 1997, Pack 862 had around 60 Cub Scouts.

In 2014, Pack 862 absorbed Pack 46 from Lakehill Preparatory School. As of 2017, Lakehill’s participation in Cub Scouts has tripled.

In 2017, Pack 862 restarted Scouting traditions at Reilly and Reinhardt Elementary Schools. Pack 707 is a young pack that served Reilly but folded; it was chartered at the nearby Elks Lodge #71. Reinhardt had no pack.

As of fall 2017, Pack 862 had 170 Cub Scouts.