Scout’s honor: Albritton touches on importance of Boy Scouts

Published 7:32 pm Friday, November 14, 2008

Scouting in the past, present and future was the theme of the night at the Covington County Area Golden Eagle Dinner Thursday night at Oakwood Lodge.

Local Boy Scout Troop 46 sponsored the dinner and the honoree was Judge Harold Albritton, a Covington County native and former Eagle Scout who currently serves as U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama. The night helped raise $13,425 for scouting.

Albritton entertained guests with anecdotes of his time as a Boy Scout, noting that although decades have passed since that time, there are still some themes that remain consistent throughout scouting.

“One of those things that will always remain the same is earning your Eagle,” Albritton said to a crowd of more than 100, which included several Eagle Scouts as well as current Boy Scouts. “You’re always going to have to earn it, nobody’s going to give it to you. It doesn’t matter who you are, or who your father is, you’re always going to be on a level playing field with everyone else.

“But it’s important to remember that it’s not just going to be up to you; you’ll have lots of people who will help you along the way.”

Albritton’s grandson, James, himself a Boy Scout, introduced the judge at the dinner. During his remarks, Albritton regularly addressed James in a grandfatherly manner.

“James, as you go through life, always remember to be prepared, honor God and follow the Scout oath,” he said. “When you do those things, you’ll be the man I know you can be, and I will be honored to come back and watch you receive your Eagle.”

Michael Jones, former city councilman and Eagle Scout, served as the chairman at the dinner. Tushun Culp, a 2008 Eagle Scout and member of Troop 46, was the emcee for the event and presented Albritton with a golden eagle statue at the end of the night.

Albritton entertained guests with stories of his own time as a Boy Scout in Covington County, noting that at the time there were two troops and he was a member of the Rotary Club-sponsored Troop 45.

“I remember when I was first getting started in scouting and four or five of us went out to an overnight camp at Horseshoe Lumber Co. in River Falls,” Albritton said. “We wanted to go out and cook our first meal and so we took a raw chicken and can of peaches out there with us. Now, we were some smart scouts and we knew how to make a fire and that we’d have to give the chicken time to roast. We kept that chicken in the fire for a while, and then we took it off and cut it up and if it wasn’t just the smokiest, dirtiest and driest chicken ever.

“I know that it was bad, because I still remember it after all these years.”

Albritton also told the crowd of how he was able to use his part-time job of writing for the Andalusia Star-News to meet a famous person.

“We were at this scout jamboree in Gettysburg,” he said. “Now, before we left, the editor of the paper, Ed Dannelly, told me to send in some articles for the paper. But he told me that first I’d need a press card, so I got one. Well, we were in Gettysburg and I thought I’d see just how good that press card worked, so I went up to the stage and said, ‘Star-News,’ and they said, ‘come on in.’ I ended up getting to go backstage and meet Bob Hope, and shake his hand.”

He added that growing up, he and his friends thought they were tough men who could stand anything. Those cocky boys ended up meeting their match following a trip to Mexico to see a bullfight.

“It was the bloodiest, most horrifying thing I have ever seen,” Albritton said. “On the way there, all of us boys were all excited and talking about how tough we were to go see a real bullfight. But then on the ride back, we were all quiet and felt sick. Later on in my life, my wife and I decided to visit Spain and went to see the Andalucia region.

“Now, the Andalucia region, when you first arrive, there’s a big cutout of a bull on a hill. It’s the region of Spain that is most famous for bullfighting.”

Casting a glance to James, Albritton laughed and continued.

“I told your grandma that I wanted to do a lot of things in Spain,” Albritton said. “But going to a bullfight was definitely not one of them.”

Albritton completed his remarks with a special thanks to those who helped put on the dinner.

“It’s been so much fun to reminisce,” he said. “I appreciate you having me.”