The Hike, Part Three: Fifty Miles for Jack

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As discussed earlier, our Claremore Boy Scout Troop 88 decided in the spring of 1963 to support our President, John F. Kennedy, in his physical fitness push by participating in an event called “Fifty Miles for Jack”

We scouts decided to take on the President’s challenge that able-bodied males (guess females weren’t invented yet) should be able to walk fifty miles in 20 hours.

50 milesThe whole Scout Troop had agreed to go, but my best friend (Jimmy Bowman) and I were the only ones that actually ended up going after it.

We walked the 18 miles to Pryor, had full breakfast and at the halfway mark of our hike (27 miles), we each downed two Moon Pies and two bottles of the Vess Bubble Up soft drink then commonly known as Picnic Pop.

I remember being pretty sick for a while but we kept going and made it finally up the Dog Creek Hill past Pickett’s Nursery to the waypoint.

We were unceremoniously stuffed into the back of Jim Bowman’s dad’s tiny red Nash Rambler wagon, and hauled out to the Highway 33 Junction in Inola where we were dumped, to begin our twelve mile final push towards Claremore. By then it we had been at it about fourteen hours and it was again pitch dark.

Attention Parents:  Can you imagine now picking up your children who have already walked thirty-eight miles, then hauling them down to Inola, dumping them beside the road at dark, then driving off?  Well, that’s exactly what they did, and let me tell you those last twelve miles were tough!

We had, by that time, worked through the Moon Pies and Picnic Pop, but the ride in the Rambler nearly did us in.  The tiny back seat pushed our knees right up under our chins and after the twenty minute ride our muscles had stiffened and locked in place.

After finally getting ourselves straightened out, we knew better than to bend ourselves again; we rested every couple hundred yards when we found places along the grassy road shoulder with a slope so we could lay flat and rest with our heads high.

To tell the truth, I don’t remember much about that walk until we got to Dog Creek and began climbing what they call the “Tiawah Grade” up highway 88 towards town. Missouri Pacific railroad engineers say that our Tiawah Grade is the steepest on the line and the one that, to this day, on the Union Pacific must be considered when putting together coal trains from Georgia to Montana.

old claremore

All this rambling to get to the next couple of paragraphs that are the whole point of this tale.

Teamwork is important.  Vitally important!  There is no question that either Jimmy or I could have made it up that Tiawah grade by ourselves.

We walked forty-eight miles already!  No one was going to care!”

 As I mentioned earlier, we were greeted by a whole parade of well-wishers at Pryor that morning.

By this time it was ten o’clock at night and it was clear by now there was going to be no parade in Claremore. No one showed up to greet us. NOTHING! Not a soul.

As we were coming up the grade with Roy’s Drive-In there in sight a mile or so up the road, Jimmy uttered what might have been the wisest words I ever heard.

He said “Robby, if we walk forty-eight miles, everybody will know we can walk forty-eight miles. But if our goal was fifty and we made it fifty, for all anyone knows, we could have gone on to a hundred.”

We made it.

THE HIKE:  THE END


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