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As It Was: Ashland Boy Scouts Attend First National Jamboree

In June 1937, Ashland High School classmates Frank King and Robert Farlow waved goodbye to their families and boarded the train to Washington, D.C. Along with 26 others from Southern Oregon, they were headed for the first National Boy Scout Jamboree. King and Farlow chronicled their experiences for the Ashland Tidings newspaper.

President Franklin Roosevelt hosted the 10-day event that brought 27,000 Scouts to Washington. The boys stayed in a 356-acre tent city on the mall that stretches from the White House to the Capitol.

President Roosevelt inspected their camp, the boys wrote, and former President Teddy Roosevelt delivered the campfire address. The Scouts attended a major league baseball game, saw the Fourth of July fireworks, and watched the Goodyear blimp take off and land. They met with Oregon Congressman James Mott, toured the FBI and Arlington Cemetery, and climbed the nearly 900 steps to the top of the Washington Monument.

The highlight was a formal review of the Scouts by President and Mrs. Roosevelt and other dignitaries. Their motorcade slowly passed by the boys, standing in formation for two miles on both sides of Constitution Avenue.

Sources: "Scouts Head for Washington." Ashland Tidings, 19 June 1937; King, Frank. "Scouts Arrive in Washington." Ibid, 30 June 1937; King, Frank. "Boy Scouts See Capitol Sights." Ibid, 7 July 1937; King, Frank. "Scouts Inspect Famous Sights." Ibid, 8 July 1937; King, Frank. "Lanny Ross Sings at Scout Program for Big Jamboree." Ibid, 15 July 1937; "63 Boy Scouts Signed for Trip." Oregonian, 9 May 1937, p. 16; "The Scouts' Jamboree." Oregonian, 4 July 1937, p. 42; "Scouts' National Jamboree." Time, 12 July 1937, content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,788126,00.html; Wendell, Bryan. "A Complete History of Presidential Visits to National Jamborees." Bryan on Scouting, 21 July 2017, blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2017/07/21/a-complete-history-of-presidential-visits-at-national-jamborees.

Lynne Hasselman has a passion for storytelling and a heart for history. As a freelance historical writer for the Oregonian, she’s drawn to the experiences of ordinary people living in extraordinary times.