Tag Archives: Boy Scouts of America

Judah’s Shoes

From July 12-31, 2017, I helped lead a troop of 34 boy scouts to the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree, featuring ten days of camping and high adventure activities at the BSA Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.  As part of the jamboree experience, we took the boys to New York City, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C. for eight days before the camp.  On the itinerary was a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  I had read so many books about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, and seen so many films, that I dreaded going, or rather, dreaded the grief and pain I knew I would feel upon experiencing the museum.  Still, the boys needed to know and appreciate this awful period of history.  Our youth are those who will see that such things never happen again.  I held myself together as I studied the various exhibits.  But then I came to the room of shoes.  Real.  Tangible.  Worn by the departed dead murdered in the death camps, in the gas chambers.  So many.  Outside the museum, my son and nephew put their arms around me as I collapsed into convulsing sobs.  We must never forget.  This must never happen again.  We must never forget.

JUDAH’S SHOES

This room is
filled
with shoes,
worn brown leather
crumpled and twisted and squashed:

shoes of the stripped and the shamed

they lie upon
one another,
laces yanked,
the pile deep,
crooked and disjointed and mangled:

shoes of children and working men and working women
shoes of rabbis and butchers and violin players

toes point all directions,
searching,
forlorn,
never finding,
their mates lost:

shoes of the gassed and the dead
shoes of the forgotten
shoes of the remembered

 

Roger Evans Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The non-fiction book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  Rose Gluck Reviews recently reviewed Rabbit Lane in Words and Pictures.

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Wood Lamp: Hope

“Hope”

My friend and business associate Randy S. commissioned this lamp, affectionately named Hope, as a companion to our beautiful wood lamp Waves.  Randy selected the wood for Hope from several photographs I sent him in October 2015, seen here from three different views.

Hyrum (15) and I worked slowly over the next year and a half to transform this rough piece of wood into the beautiful lamp featured above.  The first step was, as always, to clean and smooth the wood.  Next we drilled the small surface that would support the bulb socket, stained the wood with several coats of dark Provincial stain, and inserted the nipple pipe and socket.

Preparing the table-top base came next.

We mounted the lamp wood onto the base with wood glue and several three-inch screws, wired the lamp, varnished the base and lamp with gloss polyurethane, and caulked around the lamp base.  We routed the base bottom to house the lamp chord.

The final step was to suspend the lamp upside down between two padded chairs and attach black felt to the bottom of the base.

Randy took the lamp to his home office to join Waves after nearly two years.  He said it was worth the wait.

(Purchase Price: $500.)

Baker Brothers Lamps was founded to help my sons earn money for the 2013 and 2017 National Boy Scout Jamborees and to pay for their high school athletic activities and university studies.  It has been so fun for me to work on this hobby with my sons, transforming rough wood into beautiful lamps.

Wood Lamp: Grace

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Grace

The piece of driftwood that became the lamp Grace leaned against my shed for about a decade, a temporary decoration with which I might do something someday.  It joined my other decorations, antiques, hanging from the shed by nails, though the wood lay on the ground, frequently obscured by weeds and grass.

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This lamp posed the special challenge of mounting its lithe and twisting form to the base.  At first I used a single nut and bolt, with washers at each end.  But no matter how tight, the lamp still wobbled.  Eventually, after staining and wiring, I added another bolt, and the lamp now stands firm like a ship’s mast to a ship.  While drilling such a lamp for wire would normally be a challenge, only minimal drilling was required.  The wire follows mostly natural cracks running down the back of the wood.

At 4.5 feet tall, a possible companion piece to Hyrum’s lamp Dolphin (4 feet even), we suggest a value for this lamp of $850.

Not just my sons have raised money for the National Boy Scout Jamboree.  I join them in both the fund-raising and the scouting efforts.  I attended in 2013 as an assistant scoutmaster, one of four men accompanying a troop of 36 Boy Scouts.  I will attend again in 2017 in the same role.  I am pictured here with my sons John and Caleb, in the Salt Lake City International airport, exhausted but happy after our three-week adventure.

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I will post pictures and stories of additional wood lamps soon.

Wood Lamp: Dolphin

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Dolphin by Hyrum Baker

Hyrum (14) and I have worked on Dolphin for the better part of a year.  This lamp began as an unassuming piece of weathered drift wood, distinguished by its beaver chew marks at both ends.

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Not owning an air compressor (yet), Hyrum devised an ingenious, low-cost method of cleaning the wood of sand and dust: a bicycle pump fitted with a ball needle.  Quite effective.

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Drilling this piece of wood, 48 inches from nose-tip to tail, was a challenge, due both to the length and the twisting curves of the wood.  We bored several holes with a long 5/16″ bit, then enlarged the holes with a 3/8″ bit.  Having the end of one bore meet the beginning of the next bore was indeed a challenge, but we made it work.

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For convenience, we decided to stain the lamp wood laying flat before mounting it to its base.

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With the lamp stained once, we were prepared to mount it to its base.  I learned the hard way on another tall lamp that a single bolt leaves the lamp wobbly, no matter how tight.  So we used two bolts, ratcheting the nuts down hard, with large washers on both ends, and with a little lock nut to keep them tight.  Black caulk filled the holes and covered the bolt heads.  We drilled and routed the base to accommodate the electrical chord.

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The next challenge was to thread the lamp wire through the several angled drill holes.  We first used a coat hangar to thread a length of electrician’s tape through the lamp, then used the tape to pull the wire through the lamp.

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With all the hardware work complete, we now applied more coats of Provincial WiniWax stain, then three coats of gloss polyurethane.  We often use different color stains for the base and the lamp in way that highlights the lamp (see Waves, Smoke, and Reach), but for Dolphin, a floor lamp, we thought using the same color stain for both was more effective.

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(Dolphin, in the final stages, is pictured in the background, with Grace in the foreground, and Smoke looking on from the sidelines.)

With black felt on the bottom and a simple but pretty shade on top, Dolphin is ready to swim into someone’s home.  We suggest a value of $850 for Dolphin (though we are confident that it would fetch more in many boutiques).  As a reminder, Hyrum is making these exotic wood lamps to fund his way to the 2017 Boy Scout National Jamboree, and then to college.

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Making these lamps together, while each one poses its own unique challenges, has been a true father-and-son joy.  I hope to continue our hobby into the future and Hyrum and his brothers become fathers themselves.

Picking Up Nails

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Over the years I have made a habit of picking up nails, screws, bolts, and other sharp metal bits from the streets and gutters as I walk during my lunch break.  I like to think that if I pick up this one nail, I will save someone the trouble of a punctured car tire.  I hope that, in turn, the driver is spared the cascade of negative emotions that might otherwise radiate out into his world.  None the wiser for being saved this trouble, I hope that the driver will be more inclined toward kindness and gentleness.  The pictured jar is full of the nails and screws I have picked up on my walks.  I am filling a second jar.

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As an assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scout National Jamboree troop, both in 2013 and 2017, my Council contingent leader, Craig, gave me and the other scoutmasters a Jamboree medallion.  He challenged us to carry it in out pocket every day to remind us of the Scout Slogan: Do a Good Turn Daily.  Putting the coin in my pocket each morning starts the challenge. Feeling the coin in my pocket all day long is my constant reminder to be kind.  Retiring it at night gives me the opportunity for reflection upon my deeds and the state of my heart.  Even if it was just a smile, I have done my good turn.  I resolutely believe that a simple smile, or a picked up nail, can improve our world.  I hope you enjoy this poem.  Pick up a nail today.

I PICKED UP A NAIL

I picked up a nail
from the street I walked upon,
and changed the world:
a tire will remain inflated;
a vehicle will stay true to its course;
a curse will remain unuttered;
a hand will find restraint;
a smile will grace one’s face;
a prayer, at day’s end, will still ascend;
a heart will incline to humble gratitude;
a child will feel the gentleness of a father’s forehead kiss;
a child will hear the soft tones of a mother’s good-night wish.
I always pick up nails
from the streets I walk upon.

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Me at the 2013 Jamboree.

Wood Lamp: Smoke

Smoke

Smoke, a lamp by Hyrum Baker

My son, Hyrum, and I made this lamp together.  For his first lamp project, in 2014, he chose a difficult piece of wood, which required drilling with long bits at awkward angles.  We rescued this Russian Olive root, standing about 36 inches tall, on a firewood cutting expedition.  Encrusted with mud, Hyrum worked for weeks to clean and sand the wood, filling the cracks with putty, and staining: he chose Sedona Red.  The putty didn’t stain well, so we used a matching barn-red paint to cover the still-pale putty, then stained over the dried paint, all for a rich rusty red result.  I am particularly proud of Hyrum, aged 12 at the time, for this excellent piece of artwork that happens to also be a lamp.  (I helped a little, of course.)  He named the lamp Smoke.  We suggest the value of this lamp to be $650 or more, depending on the market.  It is waiting to be taken to the perfect home.

Here is Hyrum pictured recently sitting at the bench of a federal district court judge during a recent scouting expedition for the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.

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After visiting the courthouse and other state and federal buildings, we enjoyed sandwiches at the Boston Deli, a downtown Salt Lake City lunch spot featuring jazz vinyl records, instruments, and music.

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