EDMOND — A black-and-white photo from the early 1960s shows Hal Yocum, a Boy Scout in his late teens, standing next to radio icon Paul Harvey.
That's fitting, since Yocum loves to tell the rest of the story, the history within his collection of Scout uniforms and memorabilia that spans the early 1900s to the modern era.
Start with his own uniform, the one he's wearing in the photo with Harvey. The 70-year-old pulls it from the closet of his “Scout room” on the second story of his Edmond home.
Yocum earned 81 merit badges. But his first was the First Aid merit badge. The rest of the story is that hand surgeon Dr. Hal Yocum plans to retire this year from his surgical practice. In 2002, he retired as a colonel from the Medical Corp of the U.S. Army.
“Maybe there's a relationship between that badge and my career,” he said, smiling.
After that story, Yocum moved on to the Star Badge his father, John, earned as a Scout in the late 1920s or early 1930s. John and Evelyn had four sons. All achieved the Boy Scouts of America's rank of Eagle Scout. John did not. Yocum asked his father for the rest of the story.
“He didn't make Eagle Scout because he couldn't pass the Lifesaving badge,” Yocum said. “I think some of the kids today would say, ‘What do you mean he couldn't pass the Lifesaving? That's not too bad; you just work at it a little.'”
The difference is that today's Scouts likely would be tested in a swimming pool. However, in the mid-1930s, John took the test in the strong May or June current of a river near his home in rural south-central Pennsylvania.
“They'd go out there in a boat, somebody would jump overboard and the water would start taking them down the river,” Yocum said. “You had to swim out after him, get him and take him back to shore. He was a good swimmer but not good enough to bring in another kid bigger than him — not against that current.”
Sharing his collection
Yocum reaches back in the closet. He pushes hangers across the metal rack before locating a uniform labeled “1910-1920.” It's among the 15 in his collection that he takes to Scouting events, along with books matching the time period of the uniform.
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