George Duren can still see most of it clearly, 60 years after the fact.

George Duren can still see most of it clearly, 60 years after the fact.

Duren was part of the last group of Boy Scouts from Port St. Joe, the only group as far as anyone knows, to travel to attend the National Boy Scouts Jamboree.

So he was all too happy to offer $3,000 from Piggly Wiggly and Bluewater Outfitters last week to boost the fundraising by local Troop 347 as it aspires to attend the National Jamboree this summer.

Duren also hoped the donation would bring awareness, and more donors, to the effort to send the scouts to Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, located adjacent to West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River.

Duren wants the scouts to succeed because of his experiences in 1957.

He pretty reeled off the highlights during the last week’s presentation.

The two Greyhound buses to transport Troop 47, about two dozen scouts along with three chaperones, including Scout Master John Simpson.

The tents, camping equipment, uniforms and banners flying above what became home for 10 days outside Valley Forge, VA.

The long chow lines.

The speakers, including then-Vice President Richard Nixon as well as Otto Graham, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns team that dominated pro football in the 1950s.

Duren recalls the roughly 5,000 boys, ages 12-16, who assembled in regions and set to work camping, scouting and, maybe most of all, trading in the trinkets of home.

“We took things to trade, like seashells, starfish and things out of the Gulf,” Duren said. “Horned toads was something that was big with us, and (Native-American) arrowheads and trinkets.”

“But I can see it all now. That was 60 years ago but I can still see it. It was a good time. I think John Simpson enjoyed it more than we did.”

To raise the funds for the trip, the scouts socked away two years of proceeds from their annual “Boy Scout Circus” that was something of a tradition at the time.

The boys would secure donated boxes from the local box plant to fashion the animals and other assorted ephemera of the circus and the folks of the community would come out to Centennial Baseball Field to enjoy the festivities.

Leonard Costin was a clown, starting in the center ring with a “little bitty plant” on which he would pour water, go behind the curtain and come back out with a slightly larger plant.

“Pretty soon he had somebody helping carry out the plant,” Duren said with a smile.

Then there was Jimmy Johnson, the most acrobatic scout of the bunch who would walk around on very tall stilts dressed like a clown.

The scouts also transformed an old pick-up into a fire truck, riding out on the field throughout the circus with “firemen” hanging off who would chase another scout around, whose pants appeared to be on fire, with buckets of water.

The water, and it manifestation into confetti to “drench” an audience was also a staple, Duren recalled.

“That was our biggest fundraiser,” Duren said. “It was a hoot.”

Anyone wishing to donate to sending the local scout troop to the National Jamboree in July is asked to contact Cub Master Abby Cozine at 340-0960 or Scout Master Bill Van Der Tulip at 247-9091.