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1940s Arts and Crafts Projects Now in the Archives

Today, the arts and crafts building at Dudley is called Brodie. But in the 1930s and ‘40s, it was called the Arts and Crafts Shop. According to the 1942 Last Whistle, “The Arts and Crafts Shop was again one of the busiest and noisiest spots on campus. Under the expert tutelage of Steve Brodie and his faculty, many creative skills were practiced and developed, and the quality of work continued to be excellent. Nearly every camper visited the shop at one time or another. A few made all their presents for next Christmas.”

Recently, the Camp Archives received a donation from that era which generated a little excitement. #17391 Pat O’Leary, Laguna Beach, CA, had received the wood-burned map, pictured above, from a friend who knew he was connected with Camp Dudley. Pat posted a picture of it on the DKAA Facebook page, where our Archive team spotted it. Quick arrangements were made, and Pat sent it off to the Archives. We discovered that the plaque was made by #5273 Kenneth Wheeler, who was at Camp in 1936 and 1937. These dates were before the Last Whistle was published, so there are no records of Kenneth’s cabin or camp activities from that period.

#7381 Paul Lutz recalls that cubs in the mid-1940s spent lots of time in the Arts and Crafts Shop, often as a team activity. Campers usually made Christmas presents, including pounded metal pieces, leather items like a wallet or coin purse, and wood-burned pieces. The 1943 Last Whistle confirms all of these recollections and provides production numbers for the items created. Paul described a long table in the Arts and Crafts Shop that had electric outlets at one end where the wood-burning pencils were plugged in. Says Paul, “Steve Brodie would divide up pairs of gloves. The right-handed boys would get a right-handed glove, and the left-handed boys would get the left-handed glove.”

From our best estimate, the map in the wood-burning piece represents Camp in the mid-1930s. We know that Suter Lodge had replaced “Chief’s Tent” by 1940 and that our first cabins seen on the map were built in the early 1930s. Kenneth Wheeler’s time at Camp seems to verify this estimate.

As an interesting sidebar, when Wheeler’s colorful plaque arrived at Camp, #13804 Matt Storey said, “Don’t we have another one of those somewhere? Seems to me I have seen something very similar.” Sure enough, #10555 Dave Langston had the one, pictured below, in his office. That plaque was made in 1942 by #6480 Donald Walker Lovejoy. While colored to represent each artist’s personal taste, these Arts and Crafts projects tell the tale of a bygone era. Both are now cataloged and part of the Dudley Archives collection.

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