I had never heard of the Sea Scouts and quickly learned that almost no one else had ever heard of them either. It was created when the first Boy Scouts outgrew the organization and wanted to continue with the organization. It so happened that one of the adult sponsors of the Boy Scouts in America had a sailing yacht and took these boys for a ride that has continued to this day, one hundred years later.
I rode my bike to Lindsey's home. He lived in a community named Stoneleigh, near the elementary school we had attended. From there we rode to the Skipper's house. Adult leaders of Sea Scout Ships are known by that familiar title. There, we squeezed into the Skipper's 1949 DeSoto with another boy of our age, Jim Urch. The older members of the crew – Terry Feelemyer, John White, Bob Cook, and Barry Monaco – piled into Barry's Jeep Wagoneer, and we traveled a confusing maze of highways and byways to Ethel's Boatyard. I couldn't see much hunkered down in the backseat of the DeSoto and felt very overwhelmed.
I suppose you may think that I am reading these names from a roster or looking at a picture of them. I'm not. That day and those boys are seared into my memory. Yes, it was that significant an event in my life those fifty-four years ago.
Ethel was dredging the channel when we arrived. I didn't know her when I first spotted her struggling armpit-deep in the water, probably up to her hips in silt, dragging a large metal bucket with two three-foot long wooden handles out into the creek at the end of her railway boat ramp. When she was satisfied with its position, she waved to the operator on her antique Caterpillar tractor, and he began to drag Ethel and her dredge back to shore with a steel cable that joined them. Keep in mind that this was sometime in April and the water was just thawing from the winter freeze, and Ethel was wearing only coveralls, no footwear and no shirt. Imagine the sight it made for an unworldly fourteen year old boy from the suburbs of Baltimore.