Roundup Reunion Day 3 – Farragut Day 09/16
Today is really what this reunion is all about: Revisiting the site where 10,000 of us pitched tents, cooked meals over charcoal, conducted massive flag ceremonies, attended forums, demonstrations, arena events which involved us all.
Farragut State Park was a naval training station from 1942 – 1947, after which it was decommissioned. No one really knew what to do with or about it. As I understand it, the feds sold it to Idaho, who then dismantled the buildings and tried to figure out what to do with it. It had just been installed as a state park when we came for the Roundup, so the park is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. It’s a huge place with thousands of acres of open space, waterfront and surrounding mountains. While a few of us have visited there since 1965, most of us have not and are wondering if anything we remember is still there, still as we recall it.
Each of our busses were accompanied by a member of the park service who works at Farragut. We had been told on Monday that but for the Girl Scouts coming to Roundup in 1965, Idaho would not have had a unified state park service, Farragut would not have been developed as a state park, and these rangers would not be working in this lovely Panhandle area. Each of these rangers was intensely grateful for what we girls didn’t even know we had done. They thanked us, as if we had been the movers and shakers, for bringing the Roundup to Idaho and setting up the situation that provided their roles and jobs today. It was intensely moving to talk with these people, who have been studying not only the Girl Scout presence, but the Boy Scout jamboree that followed us and the military installation that preceded us. They welcomed us as primary sources for some of the museum exhibits about our participation. That intense gratitude was so touching and so unexpected. I am still moved by it.
As we drove through the park, I looked out the bus windows and sought anything familiar. I remembered that where we camped there were no trees – just flat. I remembered taking a picture of the only tree I could find. Today most of the area is heavily treed. Look what can happen in just 50 years. We were told that the park service manages the trees now to make room for good growth, harvesting and replanting and thinking about how the tree work should be. Nothing looked familiar.
We stood at the beginning of the trail up to the overlook I fell from. I was carried off that mountain by the MPs, but I don’t remember any of it. The walk is too long to take during our brief bus visit. I would like to climb up there and see if it looks like anywhere I’ve been before.
We visited the Brig, which is now the museum. We had a flag ceremony outside that was designed by the park people.
The Brig was the only permanent building on the site in 1965, and I had visited it fairly regularly. I was the recorder/scribe for my patrol and I filed my news reports for the Roundup newspaper and our hometown newspapers with a publicity person who had her office in the Brig. I vaguely remembered the long hallways with cells on either side. The cells were offices then, but beyond that general remembrance, nothing.
I remembered attending a Forum on Integrity in the grounds in the center of the Brig. It was hosted by the GS National President of those days, Mrs. Holton Price. I don’t remember if I ever knew what her first name was. . .
At the end of the day we filed into the Arena. Hard to believe this is the same space where 10,000 of us gathered for emotional opening and closing events and religious services. The 228 of us in 2015 looked so small. The park rangers had made a recording of a short record we made in 1965 singing Roundup songs. They set up a PA with the CD to play so we could sing with it.
Back in 1965 I had participated in a workshop with Clair Smith, the great Girl Scout song leader for Roundup. A small group of us had spent the better part of a day with her and then we lead singing at an event in the Arena in the daytime. I could not remember the event.
Something propelled me to the stage to lead the songs as they were played on the PA. What a difference engaging with 200 vs many thousands. . . The very last song on the short record is Kumbaya. As Scouts, we often accompanied the lyrics with some gestures and hand movements. I had forgotten that until I started leading the song and the gestures came, unbidden to my hands and body. I added a few and in the middle of the song I had a potent body memory of leading the song at Roundup, standing on the stage.
I was part of the group that led the singing that became that record!
How amazing to be able to remember that!
And we piled back on the busses to return to Schweitzer. And there the bittersweet caught up with me. I had many, many fractured memories of Roundup and of the site at Farragut. After today, I have lost the old fractured memories. They have all been supplanted, overlaid by the memory of today. I see the great fields not bare and flat, but filled with trees. I see the Brig not filled with bustling offices but filled with museum exhibits. The center square not a meeting space, but a simple open space, surrounded by museum walls. The only campsites, the very lovely and well-designed campground that is typical of a state park these days. Not the commissary, not the obstacle course, not the Avenue of Flags, not the demonstration areas. All of that is gone completely now, and only the present remains. Only the memory that I had a memory. Not necessarily bad, but poignant nonetheless.