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- 120 Bruce White d A Good Turn Every Day A Boy in Duluth in 1926 Friday, January 1: “I went to a show.” Saturday, January 30: “It was my birthday. I went up to the ski slide. I had a tobban [toboggan] ride.” Wednesday, May 5: “I took my music lesson. I got a hair cutt. I saw the first passen[g]er and freight boat go out of the harbor this summer.” Sunday, October 31: “I went to church. We had a large snow storm.” Monday, November 1: “I shoveled the snow off the sidewalk. The snow was up to my knees.” Saturday,December25:“Iwenttochurch.IgotlotsofChristmaspresents.” Wednesday, December 29: “I went up town. I went to the dentist.” Thursday, December 30: “I went sliding.” Friday, December 31: “I went skating tonight.” The official Boy Scout Diary for 1926 had a red cover with black lettering and was a little over two and a half inches wide and five and an eighth inches long. It contained 240 pages, including almost 120 pages of useful information on scoutcraft, weights and measures, and the population of regions in the United States with Boy Scout councils. The actual diary section was 121 pages and included writing space for three days on each page. The first page was headed “My Good Turns. A Scout must do a good turn to somebody every day,” and every page had this counsel at the bottom: “do a good turn daily.” This particular diary was well worn, having been kept by a boy living in Duluth, Minnesota, but his name was not recorded in it.1 When, around 1983, I saw the little diary in the plastic bag in a Duluth antique store, where it was selling for two dollars, it attracted my attention because it reminded me of a pocket diary I myself had kept in 1962, when I was ten going on eleven. Mine was a Christmas gift given a boy in duluth in 1926 - 121 to me at my grandparents’ house in Zimmerman, Minnesota, where we often went from wherever we were living to spend the holidays with my mother’s parents. In the meager space available for January 1, my diary recorded that we left Milan, Ohio, the birthplace of Thomas Edison, on our way back to Washington, DC, where we were then living. We had spent the night in the town at my insistence, because of my obsession with the life story of Tom Edison, Boy Inventor. I had read about him in many books, including one of a series of orange-covered children’s biographies published by Bobbs-Merrill.2 In the weeks that followed, I chronicled getting a haircut, building a snow fort, earning some good grades in school, and watching Jack Benny on television. On February 20, after watching John Glenn on TV in my fifth-grade classroom, I wrote: “Saw Glenn on TV. Saw when he landed . He circled 3 times.” My entries petered out in the spring, with only a few entries in August, including a note mentioning my own birthday. In the Boy Scout Diary, all the entries were in pencil. The first few months were sparse; it was not until April that the accounts began in earnest, continuing almost every day until the end of the year. Like my own diary, there were occasional errors of spelling and grammar. * * * Tuesday, February 23: “We had a History test.” Thursday, March 4: “We had a Geography test.” Friday, May 7: “I planted onions in our garden. I set up my bird house. We had a history test.” Monday May 10: “We cleaned house.” Tuesday, May 11: “We cleaned house.” Saturday, May 15: “This [is] the first this spring we watered the garden with a hose.” Saturday, July 17: “I put up the screen windows.” From the very beginning, many things in this diary touched a chord in me. The main thing was that it was a boy’s story. The kinds of things he wrote down were the kinds of things I wrote down in my own pocket diary and in later diaries I tried to keep during my boyhood. Each entry described a moment marking the day: details of proud occasions, accomplishments, amusements, chores completed. The author of the diary recorded having gone to several meetings bruce white - 122 of something called the Four Square Club, but did not refer to the Boy Scouts directly; however, he did mention going on hikes and doing other things that...


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