I first walked into the Scout Office by St. Matthias Parish School in Ridgewood, Queens, in 1981 as a 7-year-old Cub Scout. I may have walked out of it for the last time a few weeks ago.
The building, my son and I were told, was in the process of being sold and we were being given a new storage space down the block. It was sad. But my son was there to see this important place in my life.
For the past several years, our troop had been just using the basement of the corner building on Woodward and Catalpa for storage as we now had most of our meetings in nearby school itself. We had grown too large for that old room to be an effective place to have meetings. But as my son and I, along with some others from our troop, cleaned out our gear, I remembered a lot of good times I had in that building over the years.
Lively junior leader meetings after “Scout Sunday,” when an adult voice was never heard.
Building a robot that “marched” with us in the town’s Memorial Day parade.
A staging area for massive Scouting for Food Drives.
Hanging out with the other junior leaders in the back room while Mr. Dowd, our troop leader, took the little kids on his famous leaf identification hike around the block.
The basement Scout Office was a staging area for camping trips all over the tri-state area. For trips to Washington D.C., Boston, Gettysburg and beyond.
The place where a future naval officer and future army national guard recruiter would go crashing through the plate-glass window as we were packing to go to the University of Connecticut.
It was not ours anymore. The place is still there, but it’s only ours in our memories.
As we cleared and cleaned, our current scoutmaster and I reminisced in vague terms about being Scouts in that building. The thoughts of the time when we were senior enough to be on the crew gathering the equipment out of the basement before camping. Together we moved some of our artifacts, like the giant sign reading “Troop 327” and has an image of a lone Scout starting a small fire at a campsite in the shadows of an idyllic mountain. And, of course, our troop’s World’s Fair totem pole, which one day will become part of a bigger collection of Boy Scout memorabilia.
That room was my home every Friday night for years and years. And now it will be something else. Might it be an artisan mayonnaise place. Or another coffee shop. Who knows, but it won’t be the Scout Office anymore. It won’t be home.
A version of this first appeared on Great Moments in Bad Parenting.