Maybe I should start a series of the cars of my Boy Scout troop leaders. The memories made riding in them on our monthly weekend camping trips certainly left an impression, especially when crammed into the little back seat of a ’65 Futura coupe exactly like this one with two other boys and two more in the front along with Mr. O’Neill on the way home after three days without a bath of any sort, sooty and smoky from burning our meals over an open fire, and hung over from way too little sleep. We were desperate to get home, clean up and sleep it off. But no.
Mr. O’Neill sees a little country Catholic church, pulls the Falcon into the lot, and makes us march in and go to mass, despite our filthiness, morally and physically. I only remember the looks of the parishioners vaguely, as I kept nodding off. And then we crammed back into the little Falcon for the endless ride home. I should hate this Falcon.
Why did Mr. O’Neill, the President of a successful embroidery patch factory who owned a beautiful big house and had the most elaborate Lionell train setup in the basement I’d ever seen, drive a Falcon Futura with a little six and three speed manual? I do know he had been a Marine, and was lean and tough, unlike his poor long-suffering son who was the polar opposite. I used to feel so sorry for Dennis.
We were a big well-run troop, with numerous patrols and a number of assistant scoutmasters, but none were like Mr. O’Neill, who dragged us out of our sleeping bags at the crack of dawn every morning for calisthenics (Chop! chop!). Meanwhile the other scoutmasters, a rather relaxed bunch, were still snoozing in their tent.
The only consolation was that Mr. O’Neill was a rather brisk driver, despite his car. He made that little 170 six bleat as he put the spurs to it. Maybe it had the 200, but in any case, he built up quite a head of steam on those undulating Appalachian country roads and highways. I just remember the constant bobbing and swaying as he scooted along, making it impossible to sleep. Maybe that’s why he drove that way. Of course the Falcon had a pretty hefty load on its mushy suspension and little 13″ tires, given the six of us and a trunk jammed full of back packs.
Speaking of, I have vivid memories of unpacking my official Boy Scout back pack after our monthly weekend camping trips, which always started with a 5 mile hike in, typically along a country road. Country folk sitting on their front porches got quite an eye load as a troop of some 40 or so Boy Scouts came trudging along the dark country road in front of their houses on Friday night. People would come out of their houses and stare at us, as if we were an invading army. Well, Troop 750 was about as militaristic as it got.
The contents of the pack reeked, were filthy, and everything was just jammed together in wads. The real fun was trying to clean the aluminum mess kit, having reduced several meals to mostly carbon in the thin frying pan or cooking pot. Of course I didn’t get around to that until about Tuesday or Wednesday, after I had slept it all off and caught up on my eating.
Yet despite it all, I can muster a few good memories, even riding in the back of the O’Neill-mobile.