Troop 174

Dave Lerry's Memories of 1974-1978
Oct. 26, 2004

1974                   Dave Lerry                   2005

David Lerry

Mr. Lerry is the founder of Boy Scout Troop 174 in Jefferson Valley (now Yorktown Heights), New York.  He was its first Scoutmaster from 1974-1977.

In mid-1974, Dave Lerry, who had previously been Scoutmaster of  Troop 164 in Yorktown Heights, met with Dick Trier, Wiccopee District Scout Executive to discuss re-establishing a Boy Scout Troop in Jefferson Valley. The one that had been there previously had become inactive a year or so earlier. At the time, there was a large, strong Cub Pack, number 251, led by Cubmaster Art Powers that met at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. A Boy Scout Troop in the same area would benefit from Webelos Scouts looking for a Troop to join when they got old enough. The Webelos could also benefit by going on a father/son campout with the Boy Scout Troop.

Initially, Council suggested that the old Scout Troop be reactivated. However, it was finally decided to start a new Troop from scratch, with a new history and a new designation. The first step in the process was to secure a Sponsor, a Troop Committee, some Scout Leaders and some Scouts.

Finding a good sponsor, who will work well with the Scouts and the Troop Committee is crucial. Fortunately, Troop 174 found a great sponsor: Pastor Ronald Gadde and the members of Grace Lutheran Church in Jefferson Valley (now Yorktown Heights).

National assigns the Troop numbers and availability is the key. Dave Lerry, requested number 174 to indicate the number one troop in 1974. Fortunately, that number was available because another unit with that designation had become inactive.

Initially, the Troop was started with Dave Lerry as Scoutmaster in October 1974. Some of the other Assistant Scoutmasters during these early years were: Art Powers, Irv Breitbart, John McDonald, Paul Rambusch, Jack Sebring, John Brauchler, Carl Ohlson, Larry Iuso, Lou DiRubba and Jay Cohn. We were also fortunate to have John McQuillan as Troop Advisor and acting Assistant Scoutmaster.

Some of the Troop Committee members were: Dee Shriner, Pat Lerry, Dot Powers, Sue Rambusch, Allan Konheim, Ari Aviram, Rita Chuney, Henry Chuney, Rosiland Breitbart, Angela Alfonson, Connie Ohlson, Michael Kahn, Frank Ramirez, Fran Bryan and Sandy Kahn.

The Troop initially went on monthly campouts to the Field Home on Catherine Street. Subsequently, local campouts were held at Theodore Hill's property on Barger Street, the wilderness area at Fahnestock State Park, Clear Lake Scout Reservation and Ellenville New York. Some Winter Campouts were held at Siwanoy Scout Reservation (in Wingdale, NY).

During this period two trips were made down the Delaware River using Bob Lander’s canoe base in Narrowsburg, New York as the staging area. They would provide canoes and lean-to’s to sleep in at their campground or just a plain old camping site. The adults would then transport the scouts up-river about 25 miles to Calicoon to the starting point. The leaders would then take one car back to Narrowsburg to be used to retrieve the remaining cars at the end of the first day’s trip. The second day usually Sunday a car would be dropped off at the end site another 25 miles down river at Pond Eddy. The most exciting part of the trip was going over Skinner’s Falls. Some canoes went down sideways, some backwards, some got swamped and some were portaged.

On these trips down the Delaware River, and on some of our campouts to Fahnestock State Park wilderness area, Troop 174 was joined by Patricia Lerry’s Girl Scout Troop. The Park Ranger at Fahnestock would assign each unit a campsite that had its own latrine but was relatively close to each other so that joint activities and a combined evening campfire could take place.

From its inception the Troop participated in District Scout events. We were delighted and surprised when in 1975, at our first Klondike Derby; the patrol that was entered took a first place blue ribbon.

During the summer of 1975, the Troop took a nine-day auto trip to Canada, stopping at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Boy Scout camps and municipal campgrounds along the way. The trip took us from Yorktown Heights to Plattsburgh, then Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls and then back home. That trip went so well that we decided to see if we could arrange to find a Canadian Scout Troop to partner with for summer camp. To make those arrangements we had to make the request through National. They replied that they had an even better idea. They had an English Rover Scout Unit that wanted to come to the United States for our bi-centennial celebration. They asked if we could host them. While that wasn't our first choice, we decided to do it if we could get help from some other Wiccopee District Units since we were a small Troop at that time. We did get some additional units to pitch in and we had a wonderful time. We were told the Rover Scouts ranged in age from 16 to 21. That was true. There was one sixteen year old and the rest were closer to twenty in age. Despite the difference in ages …our Scouts averaged 13 years old…and the English Scouts 19 years old … everyone had a great time. The English Scouts got an opportunity to see the Operation Sail ships in New York Harbor, an old lady get mugged near Times Square and some citizens grab the mugger. The English scouts went to Camp Read’s high adventure base for a week and then came back to Westchester and were hosted by the families of the American Scouts they were living with. Among the places we took our Rover guests to was, the Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, a trip to New York City, a trip to West Point and a picnic with the other hosting families at Croton Point Park on the Hudson River. Troop 174 scouts attended Camp Siwanoy that summer. It was closer to home and worked out better since we were also going to be hosting the Scouts from Manchester, England.

In 1977, it was time to take another trip to Canada instead of going to summer camp. This time, we went to Niagara Falls first and then headed to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and then back home. Joining us on this trip was the English Rover Leader’s son Julian Monk, and his friend David Howe. Later, that summer Marc Lerry and Kenny Powers from Troop 174 spent a month visiting England. This trip to Canada didn't work as well as our first trip. Canada appears to just be an extension of the United States until you get to Ottawa and beyond when you enter across Niagara Falls. Crossing into Canada near Plattsburgh, New York you immediately view signs in French as you cross the border. The Scouts quickly realized they were in a foreign country.

During this time period, Douglas Shriner, Marc Lerry, Kenneth Powers and Carl Ohlson earned the rank of Eagle Scout. There were also a number of other scouts who were well on their way to becoming Eagles.

We also began what became an annual event in April and that was attendance at the West Point Camporee. We were fortunate to secure our first invitation and then by becoming friends with members of the West Point Scoutmasters Council we secured subsequent invitations. Irv Breitbart did a great job acting as liaison. Later invitations became easy to obtain when Carl Ohlson, who was a Troop 174 Eagle Scout, also became a West Point Cadet and a member of the Cadet Scoutmasters Council.

I spent 30 years working for IBM. I started at 590 Madison Avenue, then moved with CHQ to Armonk. I did a short stint in DPG in White Plains in the 60's.

In mid-1978 I was sent on a three-year assignment by IBM to Paris, France  IBM Europe HQ in Paris, France from 1978 to 1981 as Manager of Manpower Planning for IBM Europe. During his three years, there with my family, I was also active in Scouting. I became an Assistant Scoutmaster and then Scoutmaster of Troop 112 in Paris, France. That Troop met at the American Embassy. In 1978, Irv Breitbart became the Scoutmaster of Troop 174.

Upon returning to the United States, I continued to serve Troop 174 as an Assistant Scoutmaster and at the same time I was Wiccopee District Chairman. Subsequently, I was Westchester-Putnam Council Vice President of Operations, and then Council Commissioner. I also am a member of the Order of the Arrow and have been awarded the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver. In 1975, Irv Breitbart and I attended Wood Badge training at Alpine Scout Reservation and both of us subsequently earned our beads.  Also after returning from Europe, I completed my career with IBM at CHQ in Armonk.  (I worked with a number of people from the IBM's T.J. Watson Research lab in Yorktown Heights, but I never worked there.)

In 1990, after retiring from IBM, one of the people I worked for in Armonk, took a job as a Vice President for MCI. He offered me a job with the proviso that I join him at a new MCI facility in Dallas, Texas. I accepted, my wife and I moved to Texas, and we left all our children in New York To date, two of our four children and their spouses have joined us in Texas. The others and our grandchildren remain in New York.

Plano, Texas where we now live, is a safe city of just about 250,000 people with many amenities since it has been recently planned and developed. JC Penney, Frito-Lay, EDS are just a few of the companies that have their headquarters It is close enough to Dallas so that we can get there in half an hour to forty five minutes. DFW International airport is about forty five minutes away and Fort Worth an interesting, less cosmopolitan city than Dallas is about an hour and a quarter drive. We don't have the rolling hills and beautiful Fall scenery that you have in the Hudson Valley. However, we also don't get any snow and ice to speak of. If it does snow or we do get an ice storm, it is usually only one or two storms per year. Usually, everything evaporates by mid-afternoon. High temperatures are another matter. We average about 10 or more 100 degree days per year. It is a relatively dry heat so it isn't oppressive. There are many reasons to stay here, but the most important one is that my wife likes it here and she has no plans to move.

-- Written by Dave Lerry

Boy Scout Troop 174, Yorktown, NY.