Days of Yore: Scouting patent for a semaphore dummy

April 8, 2020

Some recent discussion about the least-earned Scout merit badge in history. In its three years of existence (and odd afterlife), only ten Boy Scouts earned the badge. It was discontinued in 1915.

One reason? A requirement for the badge was to file for and get a patent from the U.S. Patent Office. Much easier to do in 1911-1914 than today, but still a hurdle probably too high to require from Scouts.

Ten Scouts did it, though — one of the patents was displayed in the blog for Scouting Magazine. So I searched patents to see if I could find some of the other ten.

Not yet. But I did find this patent for a dandy semaphore signaling device (back in the day, Scouts had to learn either semaphore or Morse code). On October 29, 1929, H. C. Meyer got a patent on a device that looks like a Boy Scout with two semaphore flags — with mechanisms to position the flags for semaphore signaling.

Why a dummy instead of a Scout? Not sure. All I found was the drawing. No hint on whether the device was ever built.

U.S. Patent 1,729,890, to H. C. Meyer, for a “Boy Scout Signalling Device” using semaphores. Granted October 1, 1929.

Do you know semaphore? Morse code?

See the drawing and the entire description of the patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Four pages.


Amarillo Scout: 121 merit badges, and more

January 2, 2009

Here’s a good story we missed back in September.  This is one more example of outstanding achievement by a good kid, a Scout, that slips by largely unremarked.

Amarillo Scout Coleman Carter got his 121st merit badge in his troop’s court of honor.  He had earned his Eagle Rank in September 2004.

Carter’s 121st badge?  Bugling.  He doesn’t play the trumpet or bugle, so it was difficult. Bugling was also the last badge earned by the New York Scout, Shawn Goldsmith.  Is this a trend?  My recollection is that at least one other member of 121-Merit Badge Club got bugling last.

Amarillo Eagle Scout Carter Coleman - Amarillo Globe photo

Amarillo Eagle Scout Carter Coleman - Amarillo Globe photo

Earning every merit badge in the book is just one of Carter’s achievements, however.  He’s a National Merit Scholar, ranked #1 in his class at Tascosa High School, and studentbody president.  You can read several of his acheivements here, in the Amarillo Globe-News — and remember, this was before his junior year (he’s a senior this year).

Better, go read what Globe-News columnist Jon Mark Beilue wrote on September 24, 2008, “Scout blows it out.”

Coleman is a member of Troop 87, sponsored by St. Thomas the Apostle ChurchAmarillo is in the Golden Spread Council, BSA, which serves the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

Mr. Coleman is not the first to accomplish this feat, nor will he be the last, I suspect.  I do wish that troops, districts and councils would do more to spread the news of such outstanding feats by Scouts.  A press release kept online, with photos, would have been nice.  (While we’re ranting, would it be so difficult for the Amarillo Globe-News to put its name on its website?  Or has the Globe-News gone out of business?)


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