Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

1961 SCOUT-O-RAMA SKIN DIVING BOOTH

Morning Star, March 15, 2020, pg. 3

The Albion area once had numerous Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs during the 1960s. A popular event each year was the Scout-O-Rama held at the Albion Armory on N. Clark St. Each troop or pack would prepare their own booths with a variety of themes and present/demonstrate them to the public.

The 1961 Scout-O-Rama was held May 27 and 28 of that year. There were 91 booths, all occupied by scouts showing off their items and projects with the help of their parents and scout leaders. The Cub Scouts were placed on the main floor of the Armory, with displays about Indians, Indian villages, handicrafts, and model trains. One of the most popular displays by the Cub Scouts of course was the Pinewood Derby, a very popular project for the boys which included annual race competition events.

The Boy Scout displays were in the basement of the Armory. There were booths with demonstrations of first aid. Scouts acted as patients while other scouts did the bandaging in creative ways, much to the amusement of the onlookers. Another booth featured gun safety, and consisted of different models of guns (real ones) hanging on the walls, while slides of firing positions were shown on a screen.

One of the most popular booths however, was presented by the (Albion) First Methodist Church Explorer Post No. 158. It was entitled "Skin-Diving," featuring that new, up and growing popular sport of the 1960s. The booth was sponsored by Albion A & P Supermarket. Various pieces of diving equipment were placed on card tables and on the floor.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a bare-footed Peter Booth in the Skin-Diving booth holding an underwater camera made by the fourteen boys in the Explorer Post. The caption with this photo reads, "This explorer post is specializing in skin diving and has all the apparatuses that a well-dressed skin diver should wear along with other related equipment."

Taking a closer look at this photograph, on the far left we see a part of the "diver-down" flag which all dive teams should display on the surface of the water when diving. On the card table in front of Peter we see a sign that says "Panic Button," with a button below. I wonder what that was all about? On the center card table are a pair of dive fins, a weight belt, and a double-hose regulator. On the floor we see a Voit brand scuba tank, with another being placed on the card table on the right. In the back-right corner is a mannequin dressed in a full scuba outfit including wetsuit, a double-hose regulator, and an unusually-shaped snorkel. I looked for a spear-gun (popular at that time) in this photo but didn't see one.

Today, scuba diving continues to remain a very popular sport. Try-out dives in a pool, as well as regular scuba training classes are available at either Diver's Mast in Jackson, or Sub-Aquatic Sports & Service in Battle Creek in our area. Southern Michigan has lots of lakes to dive in during the summer months, and dive shop-sponsored dives are held on either Wednesday or Thursday evenings each week. I encourage our readers to give your dive shop a call and find out how you can get involved. How many of our readers are scuba divers?


Peter Booth in the Skin-Diving booth

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