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Council History - 1910 - the Beginning  

Beginnings
 
        The Boy Scouts, led by founder and famous British general Robert Baden-Powell, formed in Britain in 1907. By 1910, the idea had spread across the Atlantic to America where different prominent men began looking at the Boy Scouts as a way of shaping American youth while promoting their own business interests at the same time.
        Chicago publishing magnet, W.D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) on February 8, 1910 after, as folklore has it, being the benefactor of a good deed by an unknown British Scout while on a trip to England the previous year. Not to be outdone,
New York and California multi-millionaire publisher, William Randolph Hearst, incorporated his own Scouting organization called the American Boy Scouts (ABS) four months later on June 24, 1910. The ABS had National offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For the next few years resignations, including both Boyce and Hearst, merger offers, break-off groups and lawsuits ensued around who had naming and fundraising rights as "Scouts" in the United States.
         

Announcement - New York Times
June 24, 1910

           
     

Scouting Starts on the Westside
 
        News of Boy Scouts quickly spread to the Westside of Los Angeles, no doubt helped by articles in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, a Hearst news paper. On August 30, 1910, a

     Article in Santa Monica Outlook
     August 30, 1910  pg.8


       
        



former German army man and veteran of the Spanish War named  Emile Weims announced his interest in organizing a Boy Scout "company". The meeting was to take place at his home at 492 Gondolier Ave, in Venice, CA, the purpose "if successful in organizing the boys, to give them an opportunity to experience more or less of field work." By all accounts, this meeting was the beginning of Boy Scouts on the Westside of Los Angeles in what would twelve years later become Crescent Bay Council. A "club" or "company" formed at Weims' August 30, meeting as the American Boy Scouts of Venice (ABS) (note: not a Boy Scouts of America BSA troop).
        On Saturday, September 26, 1910 the American Boy Scouts of Venice began a two day encampment at the Abbott Kinney Preserve on the beach in Venice where they pitched tents along with several hundred American Boy Scouts from Los Angeles and another youth group called the Modern Woodsman Scouts. It was noted that the "suited" boys from Los Angeles and
Venice, led by the Examiner Boy's Band, another Hearst invention, enthused all ambitious youngsters for miles around who were trying to organize their own "clubs".
        Within days of the Boy Scout encampment at Venice, a group of twelve "small" boys in Santa Monica, met, apparently without adult supervision, to form their own "club" or "company" in what they called the American Boy Scouts of Santa Monica, an obvious effort to distinguish themselves from the similar groups in neighboring Venice and Los Angeles. (note: ABS referred to their units with the more military designation of "Company" while Boy Scouts of America BSA units were referred to as "Troops"). The Santa Monica boys elected twelve-



Meritt Van Sant
Captain of the
American Boy Scouts of
Santa Monica


year old Merritt Van Sant as their Captain (ABS equivalent of the Senior Patrol Leader position in BSA) and on Monday, October 10, 1910 they held their first regular meeting after school in his home at 1122 Sixth St. Santa Monica. In attendance were: Leslie Karsold -flag bearer; Laurence Gregory; Paul Cramer; Neil Livingood; William Bradford; Leo Fogel; Teddy Fithian and William Reynolds.
Many of the Santa Monica boys came to that meeting already in possession of their 

ABS uniforms: "suits of khaki, leggins and hats"

         

Article in Santa Monica Outlook
     October 11, 1910  pg.1






        
which were likely available for purchase from the American Boy Scouts department office in nearby Los Angeles.

ABS Uniforms & Insignia

Very little is know about American Boy Scout uniforms and insignia. The ABS existed for only a few years over 100 years ago
and ABS material, while collected by some, has largely gone uncatalogued. Like Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the symbol of ABS
 was an eagle.with a shield of stars and stripes on its chest. In the case of BSA, the eagle is also superimposed on a Fleur De Le.
Pictured below are the types of apparel and insignia that Scouts in the future Crescent Bay Council area would have earned and worn.

American Boy Scouts "Tunic" Shirt
circa 1910-1913


Accessory Button
A B S


               


Stamped bronze.
Used on pocket flaps and epaulets.
Eagle design similar to the reverse of the Barber half and quarter dollars of the period.



  Closure Button



Cast dark bronze.
Used to close shirt.
Eagle design with stars
similar to the reverse Seated Liberty coins of
late 1800's

Heavy khaki twill with epaulets and 4 pockets.





ABS Eagle Badge
circa 1910-1913

         ABS Eagle Pin
circa 1910-1913
Stamped Cut-Out

 ABS Eagle Pin
circa 1910-1913
Struck Brass with Wreath






Embroidered on heavy twill.
Purpose unknown
Possibly an ABS rank badge
including equivalent to Eagle Scout in BSA

Stamped brass cut-out, purpose unknown.
Semper Paratus, Latin for "Always Ready",
is also the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard.



Struck heavy brass disc.
Purpose unknown. Semper Paratus, Latin for "Always Ready", is also the motto of the U.S. Coast Guard.



More Scout Activities in 1910 

        To say the new Scouts of Venice and Santa Monica were active after organizing would be
an understatement. There is no record of work being done towards advancement or rank in 1910 and it is unclear what the ranks and positions in American Boy Scouts were. But during
the weeks and almost every weekend for the remainder of the year, the Scouts found reasons
to get together, socialize, march and compete; not all of which were "scout-like" in nature.
        Unlike the Venice Scouts who arranged a big encampment with several hundred neighboring American Boy Scouts from Los Angeles as their first activity, the Santa Monica "club" instead opted to "ditch" school to attend the Buffalo Bill's Wild West Traveling Show playing in L.A. on Monday, October 17, 1910. The problem was they decided to skip classes without asking their teachers for permission, which they later claimed would surely have been denied. After donning their new ABS uniforms, they boarded an early train to downtown, saw the show, and then took the train back to Santa Monica.
        As would be expected, the


Article in Los Angeles Herald
October 9, 1910





following day all the errant Scouts were hauled before the School Superintendent at City Hall where they were accused of playing "hooky", not exactly representing the character attributes


Article Santa Monica Outlook
October 18, 1910 pg. 1






        espoused by the Scouts. After a verbal dressing down
by the Superintendent to obey the School Law, followed by submission of a letter in their defense signed by the mothers of seven of the absentee scouts, Van Sant attempted to get the troop off on a technicality.

Front Page - Santa Monica Outlook
October 21, 1910

 

        He argued that since their parents had given permission, the boys did not technically meet the definition of hooky and therefore no punishment was required or deserved. In a political move, while not backing down from the assertion that the boys had disobeyed school law, the Superintendent determined that any and all punishment was the responsibility of
the parents, not the school. The whole episode was a marketing coups of sorts, making it onto the front page
of local papers, branding the new scouts as underage scofflaws, endearing them to other local boys and doing more for future recruitment of Scout age youth than anything else.
        Another outing was scheduled for October 29, 1910 when the Santa Monica Scouts would join with the Venice and Los Angeles Scouts at Ninth and Broadway in L.A.. The grouping also included a new group of Scouts from Ocean Park, indicating that a third troop or company had formed in the beach community between Venice and Santa Monica. From there, the estimated three hundred-strong assembly, would march up a dirt trail (later to become Laurel Canyon Blvd.) in uniform, to Mt. Lookout several miles away. Contests and games were
held and the Santa Monica Scouts had the chance to give their ABS "Scout Promise", nine points similar to, but not exactly like the twelve points of the BSA Scout Law.
The American Boy Scout Promise, which also was referred to as their Scout Law, said:


Article Santa Monica Outlook
October 31, 1910 pg. 1













         
        THE SCOUT LAW:

  1. a scout's honor is to be trusted.
  2. a scout is loyal to his parents, superiors, his country and employers
  3. a scout's duty is to be useful and helpful to others.
  4. a scout is a friend to all and brother to every other scout no matter to what social class the other belongs or whether he is rich or poor.
  5. A scout is a protector of girls and women-- at all times and he holds this as a sacred duty.
  6. A scout is courteous.
  7. A scout is a friend to animals.
  8. A scout smiles under all circumstances.
  9. A scout is thrifty.

       


Article Santa Monica Outlook
October 31, 1910 pg. 1

(continued)




        On November 19, 1910, all the American Boy Scouts from Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Venice, and Los Angeles, were "ordered" to again meet at the train station at Ninth and Broadway. This time, the Scouts would march two miles to the corner of Elysian Park Drive off Buena Vista Street. Once there, 40 Scouts, divided into 4 groups of ten each, would be selected for the aeroplane corps (precursor to the Air Scouts). Under the leadership of members of the
Aero Club of California, they would then be given instruction on the art of building and operating aeroplanes. Given that air flight had been accomplished for the first time just seven
years previously, airplanes in 1910 represented the cutting edge of human technical advancement and were a huge deal for young boys at the time. It was also noted the American Boy Scouts of Los Angeles were nearing completion of a "wireless"(early twentieth century term for "radio") station atop the recently built (1908) Majestic theater building at 845 South Broadway, downtown. Within another week, it was said, the American Boy Scouts would own and operate their own wireless station.
        Then, on December 9, 1910, slightly five months after its incorporation, it was reported that William Randolph Hearst and two other key directors of the American Boy Scouts, had resigned.


                          Announcement - New York Times
                             December 9, 1910


              



Article Santa Monica Outlook
November 18, 1910 pg. 1






        At issue was the use of Hearst's and other directors names in fund raising for the organization. A grand Jury investigation ensued where it was also noted there was considerable confusion caused by the fact there was the American Boy Scouts and also the Boy Scouts of America, the later not being involved in the investigation. While this shake-up did not seem to immediately impact the Santa Monica, Ocean Park and Venice Scouts directly, issues related to the investigation would ultimately cause the American Boy Scouts organization to break apart and then disband two years later. What little remained of the ABS, changed its name to the short-lived United States Boy Scouts, which merged in 1917 into the Boy Scouts of America.
        Additional group events for the Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Venice and Los Angeles American Boy Scouts were "ordered" by ABS Commander D. Vidal Hunt in the remaining weeks of 1910. There was a group hike and contests in Santa Monica Canyon on December 10. On December 24, a parade and afternoon of fun and sport was scheduled in Luna Park, aka Chutes Park, a full-on amusement park at Main and Washington Streets in downtown L.A., complete with roller coaster and other attractions.
        As a final event for the year, the Santa Monica, Venice and Ocean Park Scouts once again joined the Los Angeles Scouts for a trip to Catalina Island over Christmas break.
Few Crescent Bay Council era Scouts ever knew that Scout Camping on Catalina Island went all the back to the beginning of Scouting on the Westside in 1910.
 (see > History of Camp Emerald Bay)
The Scouts traveled on the Steamship Hermosa out of San Pedro to Avalon. Once there, they busied themselves with camping, cooking, hiking, competitions, games, riding in glass bottom boats and having a great time.
        On the steamer ride over to the Island, it was announced that by an 8 to 4 margin, the Santa Monica Scouts had won the inaugural awarding of a Silver Cup trophy (soon to be known as the Tullis Cup) for the event a few days earlier at Luna Park. It was given to Meritt Van Sant as captain of the Santa Monica Scouts, a fitting ending for the beginning year of Scouting in the future Crescent Bay Council.



Article Santa Monica Outlook
  December 30, 1910 pg. 1











 

        Within the last 100 days of 1910, Boy Scouts on the Westside had gone from nothing to at least three troops of uniformed boys in three different communities, along with hundreds more from Los Angeles, marching and carrying flags almost every weekend, meeting during the week, and appearing on the front pages of local papers. The Boy Scout phenomenon captured the attention of every adult and the imagination of untold numbers of boys in the beach towns and hamlets west of Los Angeles.








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