A little sinister postal history with the BSA

Probably my favorite aspect of the broader stamp collecting world is postal history. Yes, I know some will argue it isn’t stamp collecting, but who cares.

The history part of postal history can be fascinating. When I have a newspaper wrapper from the Civil War, I absolutely have to find out who the addressee is.

Postal History and Troop 873

I picked up recently an interesting piece of postal history related to one of my stamp collecting specialties, Scouts on Stamps. It starts with a cover:

Postal History

It is a nice First Day Cover celebrating the nation’s Bicentennial. Four stamps and a nice cachet adorn the cover.

It appears this cover might have been a fundraiser for Boy Scout Troop 873 in Clear Lake City, Texas. In a letter that outlines the challenges of getting the covers made, there is a reference to a $4.50 cost.

It seems that this cover had a couple challenges, including the USPS originally refusing to cancel the covers and later, the wrong date of June 1 stamped on these Independence Day covers.

But the Boy Scouts persevered and the covers – with the July 4, 1976 First Day of Issue Postmark – were finally sent out.

My purchase includes a letter to purchasers from the Scoutmaster, dated September 23, 1976:

It also includes a document titled The Story of Troop 873’s Bicentennial Cover:

I’m thinking what a great find. A fascinating piece of postal history that would fit in a Scouts or a Bicentennial collection. Then my research turned up something sinister.

A Sad Piece of History

The Scoutmaster of Troop 873 was named Larry Scott. and in 1985 he was accused of sexual abuse of minors and now appears on lists of confirmed Boy Scouts of America abusers. On May 9, 1985, he was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy and sentenced to 18 years in prison. You can read his Boy Scout file on the incident.

The rampant sexual abuse that permeated the Boy Scouts of America is a major stain on the organization. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I never witnessed, experienced, or even heard of sexual abuse taking place. However, there more than 1,000 volunteers going back decades appear in “confidential” files the BSA kept – without reporting the violators to police.

Today

I spent a few minutes on Google and cannot find that Troop 873 exists anymore. It was in Clear Lake City, Texas, in the Sam Houston Council, which serves the Houston area.

When I search the website for the Clear Lake District, I find no listing for Troop 873.

It’s kind of an odd, interesting, and tragic piece of postal history. It’ll be in my collection, but time will tell if it is a cherished part of my collection.

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