Dissipating Dreams of Raquel Welch

I would crouch down, position the bugle about six inches from the tent, knowing full well there was a sleeping Boy Scout on the other side the canvas.

He’d be blissfully dreaming of Raquel Welch doing his best to remain trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. 

With all the wind I could suck into my 13-year old lungs, I’d affix my embouchure to my Official Silver Boy Scout Bugle and cut loose. 

Reveille.

By the time I finished the first strain, my victim was anything but courteous and kind. Raquel had slipped from his grasp.

One Scout mentally awake and prepared to do his duty for God and his country, I’d commence marching around camp, bugling, making friends. 

Friendly and helpful, that’s me, boy. 

There’s a fermata above that last note in Reveille and by God, it’s there for a reason. I’d stretch that final dotted quarter note into a loud, elongated whole note. It may have started as a High C, but I slid that puppy into a B-flat and finished with a Louis Armstrong-esque mournful flourish.

In addition to Reveille to awaken his chums, the Troop Bugler had a handful of other bugle calls in his repertoire, each designed to foment a specific type of groupthink and gestalt. Assembly, which meant quit screwing around and form up, men. To the Colors, every time we’d post Old Glory, count noses and report to our Senior Patrol Leader.

“Eagle Patrol. Four present and accounted for, sir.” 

Taps at the end of the day. The rule for Boy Scouts was Taps meant lights out and clam up. The rule was not always strictly adhered to and the Troop Bugler took his enforcement duties seriously. 

“HEY YOU RACCOON PATROLLERS! I BLEW TAPS. PUT A SOCK IN IT ALREADY..!

If a Boy Scout could holler cheerfully, I did.

I was proud of that bugle and even prouder of the Troop Bugler uniform badge that came with. Early evidence of what would become a near-lifelong walk along the fine line between self-seeking and self-promotion. 

We were Troop 420, sponsored by the suburban Wichita Pleasant Valley Lions Club, which gathered Monday evenings in the Pleasant Valley Junior High cafeteria to serve the community. Once a year, a handful of us would obediently present the colors for the Lions Club to allow The Man to beam proudly upon what his civic-minded benevolence had wrought.

Rockwell-esque, wholesome, apple-cheeked Boy Scouts helping little old ladies across the street to attend services at the Pleasant Valley (United Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, insert mainstream Protestant denomination here) Church.

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday. 

Looking back, I'm left with the impression the Boy Scouts were basically prep school for the Army. I was blowing Reveille at the Quivira Scout Ranch in Chautauqua County, Kansas at the exact same time our big brothers were mucking through rice paddies to prevent dominoes from falling in Southeast Asia. 

The downside with being Troop Bugler was you hadda be the first kid outa the sack. Wake up, stumble around, get dressed, find the damn bugle. Put the mouthpiece in your pocket to warm it up. 

First one up to roust the troops. Last one down to put ‘em to bed. 

On my honor. I did my best. To do my duty.