Friday, April 07, 2006

An Ordinary Hero

I first met Les Johnston when I was working at Cub Scout Day Camp. Les and Carl were Emperors of the Warehouse at Camp Herms. If I needed a shovel or a rake or a fire extinguisher, I was told to "Go see Les-and-Carl at the warehouse." (They were referred to as one: Les-and-Carl or LesandCarl.) Every morning, Les would drive his red Toyota pick-up truck in through camp, honking and waving as he passed by the Cubs assembled for morning flag. (Carl's truck was not as flashy.) Those men could fix anything at Camp Herms and, I later discovered, anything at Camp Wolfeboro up in the Sierras.

Except for the red pick-up, Les wasn't flashy. He just did what needed to be done so that Wolfeboro was ready for summer camp and Herms was ready year-round for all the use and abuse the program could give them. Les also had about as much use for the Powers-That-Be and red tape as any of us did, although he wouldn't volunteer that opinion!

DS#1 knew about Les from Cub Day Camp, of course, because he had a lot of time to kill waiting for me to finish up after camp was over. He became more personally acquainted when he accepted a job at Wolfeboro doing maintenance and making the run down to Herms because Les was too old to make the four hour drive down the mountain on a regular basis. When I sent him a copy of Les's obituary, he was stunned.

DS#1 is relieving the regular Camp Ranger this weekend. He's planning on attending the Memorial Service, after he opens up the Lodge at Camp Herms for the Eagle Court of Honor for the youngest son of close friends of ours. After the service, DS#1 will return to Herms, congratulate the new Eagle and lock up. He has to show up. Les won't be at the warehouse in case he forgets.