Probably my favorite aspect of the broader stamp-collecting world is postal history. Yes, some will argue it isn’t stamp collecting, but who cares.
The history part of postal history can be fascinating. When I have a newspaper wrapper from the Civil War, for instance, I absolutely have to find out who the addressee is.
Taking time to dig into the history behind the philatelic piece is part of the fun of postal history.
Postal History and Troop 873
I recently picked up an interesting piece of postal history related to one of my stamp-collecting specialties, Scouts on Stamps. It starts with a cover:
It is a nice First Day Cover celebrating the nation’s Bicentennial. Four stamps and a nice cachet adorn the cover.
It appears this cover might have been a fundraiser for Boy Scout Troop 873 in Clear Lake City, Texas. In a letter that outlines the challenges of getting the covers made, there is a reference to a $4.50 cost.
It seems that this cover had a couple of challenges, including the USPS originally refusing to cancel the covers and, later, the wrong date of June 1 stamped on these Independence Day covers.
But the Boy Scouts persevered, and the covers – with July 4, 1976, First Day of Issue Postmark – were finally sent out.
My purchase includes a letter to purchasers from the Scoutmaster, dated September 23, 1976:
It also includes a document titled The Story of Troop 873’s Bicentennial Cover:
I’m thinking, what a great find. A fascinating piece of postal history that would fit in a Scouts or a Bicentennial collection. Then my research turned up something sinister.
A Sad Piece of History
The Scoutmaster of Troop 873 was named Larry Scott. And in 1985, he was accused of sexual abuse of minors and now appears on lists of confirmed Boy Scouts of America abusers. On May 9, 1985, he was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy and sentenced to 18 years in prison. You can read his Boy Scout file on the incident.
The rampant sexual abuse that permeated the Boy Scouts of America is a major stain on the organization. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I never witnessed, experienced, or even heard of sexual abuse taking place. However, over 1,000 volunteers going back decades appear in “confidential” files the BSA kept – without reporting the violators to the police.
I spent a few minutes on Google and can no longer find that Troop 873 exists. It was in the Sam Houston Council, which serves the Houston area in Clear Lake City, Texas.
When I searched the Clear Lake District website, I found no listing for Troop 873.
It’s an odd, interesting, and tragic piece of postal history. It’ll be in my collection, but time will tell if it is a cherished part of my collection.