Boy Scouts Built  Traditional NJ Icon
- A Jersey Tollbooth

By Anthony Buccino

Members of Troop 408 built a gateway to remind them of home and the sites, sounds and smells of their home state.


Two troops of Boy Scouts from our area converged at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., last month to participate in the National Boy Scout Jamboree.

The 72 scouts representing our area joined nearly 40,000 at the opening night ceremony and were joined by President Bill Clinton. Ah, the things we do when we’re kids! Rambling Round, Inside and Outside at the Same Time by Anthony Buccino

Part of the jamboree included action centers where the scouts tested their archery and shotgun skills.

They also learned about building structures using logs, ropes and different types of knots.

Learning to trust the knots tied by folks who know how came in handy when the scouts rappelled down a 70-foot tower.

Scouts swapped patches with others from around the world. As I remember, the value of the patch is mostly in the story that goes along with it.

The patches traded at the National Boy Scouts Jamboree will have quite a story behind them as they face subsequent trades.

When I was in the scouts, the Jamboree was held out West somewhere near Idaho and the Snake River Canyon.

My troop did not get to go, but we were rewarded with a free meal from the official sponsor, McDonald’s, which had only served a few million burgers at that time.

The scouts at the recent jamboree’s action centers mastered an obstacle course, went scuba diving and fished to their hearts’ content – although, the latter were likely in different parts of the water.

About 20 of the local scouts ran in a 5-kilometer run. There was no word on how they finished.

Overall, none of the boys could say there was nothing to do.

Each troop erected an elaborate entrance to their campsite. Troop 407 from our area built a model A-300 Airbus.

While we’re not exactly sure what that is – could be a ‘Flxble NJ Transit bus, or an Air Force cargo plane that carried tanks to the Mid East for Desert Storm – it must have been impressive to hike along the campsites and gaze at the different entranceways.

The other troop from our area, Troop 408, built something no other Scout troop in the world could have built.

They rustled up their ingenuity, sharpened their axes and took their picks, hammers and an inordinate amount of heavy rope – with braided ends, of course – and set out to build a New Jersey landmark at their entranceway.

Any New York scout troop could have built the Statue of Liberty, taunting with the claim that even though it is a stone’s throw from Jersey City, it is in New York.

They could have covered their rope sculpture in grass for green and set a Coleman kerosene lantern held high to lead all to their portal, and a Boy Scout Handbook under the lovely lady’s other arm.

But the Jamboree, held every four years, is something to bring scouts together from all over the world. It is not one of those wacky Bill Murray “Meatballs” camp movies.

No.

The Jamboree is a place where thousands of scouts from more than 30 countries gathered for “fun and fellowship” to experience the 60th anniversary of the first Jamboree held in 1937.

And each boy returned home with stories of new friends from across the United States and around the world.

Members of Troop 408 built a gateway to remind them of home and the sites, sounds and smells of their home state.

According to a press release from the Boy Scout Jamboree Media Relations, the boys “built a replica of a Garden State Toll way tollbooth.”

The scoutmaster said, the “gateways are up and look great.”

Just wait until the Irish Scouts get home and are asked, “what did you see, my blue-eyed son?”

“We saw miles of archways with scouts all around them.”

“And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?”

“We paid our tokens to the New Jersey scout booths and went on our way . . .” Well, you know the rest of that song.

So the Boy Scouts flew home to Germany, rode the Autobahn, dropped off their Fuji film at Deutsche-Mart for error-free prints and then showed mom and dad those snapshots of America and the replica of the Garden State Parkway tollbooth.

And around the world, in at least 29 countries, the boys are passing around photos of a replica Garden State Parkway tollbooth. And what if, while they denounce American capitalism, they fish around in their pockets for their $25 souvenir GSP tokens.

The evidence would show that it was the boys from the Statue of Liberty gateway, i.e., those urchins from New York City, that hatched the plot to sell the bus driver’s 35-cent Parkway tokens.

But no court will charge the boys for selling worthless tokens at outrageous prices – unless it’s for interfering with the government’s own profit margin.

If anything, these intuitive youngsters, if they actually had the foresight to sell Parkway tokens at a slight mark-up, would have shown great promise for careers in Washington, DC.

Plus, they could have displayed their knack for fairly negotiating – as the government did with the Indians – and arriving at a fair and equitable price.

Government authorities would be bent out of shape if the boys had sold the tokens for $25 each. The government would have been embarrassed, as well it should be, that it didn’t think of it first.

So next time you stop at a Parkway rest and rip-off area, look around for the specially priced commemorative New Jersey Garden State Parkway Authority tokens specially wrapped in paper rolls and selling for merely $10.

And be thankful that the jamboree is only every four years. Who knows what tolls they would have charged for a replica New Jersey Turnpike tollbooth?

Copyright © 1997 -2012 by Anthony Buccino, All Rights Reserved


Since this essay first appeared, Garden State Parkway  tokens have been abolished.


Originally published in Worrall Community Newspapers. August 28, 1997

Adapted from RAMBLING ROUND  Inside and Outside at the Same Time


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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino published more than fifteen books including four essay collections, three military history books and seven full-length poetry collections.  He has been called ' “New Jersey’s ‘Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’

His stories of the 1960s earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award. His transit blog on NJ.com earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award.

His poem At The Vet has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


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This Seat Taken? Notes of a Hapless Commuter


 

 

 

 

 

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