I have the honor of being Troop 23’s Scoutmaster
in its 75th year of existence. While this is a distinct
honor it is a great responsibility too. While taking
care of the day-to-day business of the troop,
I constantly think of all the former Scouts and
Scouters and of how we today must live up to all of
the hopes and expectations of the previous 74 years.
The troop today is still going strong, registration
is up from recent years and advancement is moving
along at a steady pace. Yes, scouting is very much
alive in Troop 23 at Our Lady of Angels. The troop
recently took a 4 day trip to the Nation’s Capitol,
Camp are planned at Ten Mile River Scout Camps this
summer. In this day, we are indeed fortunate to have
the support of dedicated leaders to help us on our
way. I am glad that many friends and family have
shown up to celebrate this milestone in Bay Ridge
Scouting. Your support of Troop 23 through the years
is appreciated and well founded. I hope that you
will be encouraged to come by from time to time to
lend a hand or to just hi.
Yours in Scouting,
Scoutmaster Troop 23
Flabbergasted hardly could describe my feeling upon opening your letter. Elation very soon displaced the initial feeling and led to contemplation on a long- gone past. It really strains the brain to go back 60 years and the enclosed story is the result…
A BAY RIDGE, BROOKLYN BOY SCOUT circa 1925
I am a thirteen year old boy ready to graduate from P.S. 118 when a friend, Bobby Beale suggest that we join the boy scouts.We both lived in the 400 block of 61st. Street where Boy Scouts were alien critters and block gangs were the elite. the nearest Boy Scout troop met at the barn on the old Bliss Estate (now Owls Head Park), and so we came to Troop 23.
The barn was a monstrous scary place loaded with large Bliss Foundry patterns, even in the generous horse stalls. Two rooms in the rear served as offices for the troop. We soon passed the tests giving us the status of Tenderfoot and were assign the patrol called Bob White. Thus we became eligible to get our first uniform and run the weekly gantlet of the 61st. Street gang to attend the meetings. These were devoted to advancement training, marching drills on the adjacent parade ground, inter-patrol contest plus some fun and games.
…Afraid I can’t remember the scoutmasters name, but the big boys around were Harry and Bob Benson, Harry Malinquist, Carl Felieu, Herb Nitke, Sid and Doug McDonald, Charlie Jeanson and Bob Windorf.. I should mention that I spent two weeks in both 1925 and 1926 at camp Leeming on the Kanawahke Lakes, back of Bear Mountain; however, our hiking and camping was primarily at Clove Lake on Staten Island via the Staten Island ferry.
The troop lost the Bliss Estate some time later and moved to the local YMCA on 4th. Ave and 67th. Street. Meetings were held in the gym of the girls High School on 4th. Avenue. I had moved to E. 5th. Street in Flatbush about that time and had advanced to Star rank and Senior Patrol Leader.
John F. Falk – St. Petersburg, Florida
Way back when………1947 to be exact. Scouting came to our Lady of Angels, compliments of the late Bishop Reilly, my dad along with a lot of other dads, started the scouting program. Troop 23 moved over from Bay Ridge High School it was then sponsored by a group of concerned citizens, led by the late Ernest Mann. Well as luck would have it my parents signed me up into Pack 277. For those who don’t remember, at one time Our Lady of Angels sponsored Pack’s 23 – 277 – 370 – 550 , Troop’s 23 – 277 – 370 – 550 and Explorer Post 23. Scouting literally took over the neighborhood. Troop 23 even had boy’s from O.L.P.H., we used to call them the boys from the hill. After my stint in Pack 277 I joined Troop 23, upon reaching my 14th. birthday, I joined Post 23 until I was 18 years old. At 18 I returned to the Troop as assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster, Chairman, and then Institutional Representative.
The good old days, camping and freezing at Pouch, Alpine, we went camping at least once a month. When the Troop first came to Our Lady of Angels, we met in the boy’s lunch room, which was converted years ago into a classroom and hall leading to the Bishop Malloy building. When the new building was ready we went to our present meeting room on Friday nights. as a scout troop we always had an excellent reputation for our camping skills and usually took the gold ribbons at the camporee etc.. We went to Washington D.C. in 1963, we always had a full year round program. including a stay at Ten Mile River, or way back in the early fifties and early sixties we ran our own summer camp at Sanita Hills. In fact one year we camped at Lake Eaton in the Adirondacks a rather short 12 hour drive first to Albany then onto route 30.
What do I remember most, my first Eagle Charles Fanning then a few years later my own son Jim getting his Eagle. The good friends I made from the scouting program, my 1960 Jamboree trip by bus to Colorado Springs with the boys and Jack Mitzman. The competitiveness at the Expositions, taking the gold ribbon with a wooden tower built and lashed together by the boys from old Christmas trees right inside the gym. The great campouts, never remember not having a good time. The pleasure of seeing one of my Eagle Scouts become the Scoutmaster (Bill Sbarbaro) The pleasure of meeting some of my old scouts, now grown up with families of their own and soon to join the scouting program as a parent.
What do I miss?…John Yates and Tom Van Pelt, sharing a cup of coffee after the meeting… Gus DeFazio and Bill Sbarbaro Sr. wondering about the high $$$ cost of equipment(tents when Iwas a boy cost $7).. Getting up in the morning with Bob Gilroy singingGod Bless America, Joe Tague telling us a joke and who could forget the meals that John Carney and Bob O’conner would prepare ( none of us were on a diet). I remember the war stories that Lee Robbins(Troop 277) would tell to Bob Brunner and our best auto mechanic, Jack Flanagan. And Bob Waldron mixing us a hot toddy when it was 5 below or Pat Tierney telling us about his days in the Navy. It was Nick Albanese, Don LaSala telling each other about how to cook in the kitchen. You bet I have only named a few and we did have one hell of a good time. Perhaps the man I miss most, was my first Scoutmaster, always my friend, always came to our Eagle presentations, never had to use glasses even though he was in his late 80’s Ernest Mann.
Yes, we had good times, we worked hard. I have the greatest set of friends because of my association with the Troop. I intend to continue my membership and hope to attend the 100th Anniversary party.