Patch of the Month: National HQ

One of our few “fun” stops on our recent trek to Dallas was a stop at the National Headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, which has been in Texas since moving from New Jersey in 1979. The building is massive but utilitarian, reflecting the approach of an organization that is increasingly focused on economy.

Sadly, this is the headquarters of a shrinking organization. We’re down to about 2 million registered scouts, a not-insubstantial number to be sure, but a far cry from the numbers in the past. While the program has done a truly unbelievable job of remaining up-to-date and relevant (far more than it was in my day, to be sure, when the organization had become hidebound), some organizational issues (now addressed) and the battle for the time and attention of young people have combined to take its toll on the organization.

I fear that in order to survive, Scouting in the USA will need to cut back on the number of organizations, and move toward a unification of Boy and Girl Scouting.

In the meantime, though, I will dedicate my spare time to supporting the organization, its units, and the youth who make up the organization. I can think of no worthier cause, political correctness be damned.

Last Morning in Texas

Dawn breaks over downtown Amarillo on our last morning in Texas. I’m up early in part to exercise, but in part because I’m anxious to get on the road. I tell myself that it’s because of how hot it is in the Southwest, but in truth I want to get my mother-in-law home and settled, and I want to get some peace and quiet myself.

We have had fun in Texas, and as I’ve said, I do love this place. Downtown Amarillo is in the middle of a renaissance, and this will be a place to watch in the coming years. But I have been in my own bed a scant three days in the past four weeks, and the road has temporarily lost its allure.

It is a bit over four hours to Albuquerque. We will be on the road in an hour, racing the rising sun and climbing mercury.

Finally, a Good Hat that Fits

I have reached a certain age, I suppose, when I am starting to wear hats other than ball caps. My problem is that my head is somewhere around a size 8, so finding one that fits has proven impossible.

A good Stetson fur-felt hat has long been on my wish list. Fortunately, the Stetson-Resistol factory is in Garland, Texas, which is only about a half hour down the road from my sister-in-law’s place.

So after breakfast one morning while we were visiting, I dragged the whole family down to the Stetson factory, where they have a store onsite selling overstock, slightly irregulars, and the like. The young lady who helped me was able to locate, without much trouble, something that had evaded me for years: a size 8 fur-felt, in black.

I have a long head, and the fitters were able to steam and shape the hat so that lengthened and fit comfortably. I’m wearing the hat as I write this, “training” it to my head, ensuring that the hat holds its new shape, and gets even more comfortable over time.

It was more than a fortuitous happenstance – it was a wonderful experience, and to top it all off, the hat cost me about 1/3 of what it would have set me back at retail.

You can bet that on my next trip to the area, I’ll go back. It was, in truth, the only way to buy a good hat.


Traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is beset by an all-but-opaque toll system, non-stop construction in the most inconvenient places, and an infestation of aggressive drivers who seem perched on the very knife-edge of homicidal road rage.

Before diving into the morass of weekday rush-hour greater Dallas, I paused for a quiet moment at the Callahan County rest area in Clyde, Texas, looking East under a breezy summer sky. Leaning against the tree, heedless of the darting birds and passing trucks, I felt good about what I was doing. On what would have been my father’s 91st birthday, I was driving my family across the country to pick up my mother-in-law and bring her back to California.

It was something my dad would do, I thought, and he would have been proud.

As that thought crossed my mind, a butterfly – my father’s totem/petronas/spirit animal – floated past me, flapping in an eddy.


I smiled and said “hi, dad.”

The sun came from behind a cloud. And I went back to my car, renewed, ready to take on all of Texas.13