Bert Beadle, a Boy Scout Unit Commissioner in the Rochester, New York area, considers “Follow Me, Boys!” to be the best Boy Scout movie ever made for the way it depicts the true spirit of the Boy Scouts. (He also, in a much lighter way, got a kick out of the scout in Disney-Pixar’s “Up.”) But beyond being a great Boy Scout movie, Beadle says this film has special meaning for him, his son, and their local scouting community.
Bert Beadle became a Boy Scout Leader himself when his son was in the second grade. They went to joining night, only to discover that the pack was not yet formed and had no leader. Convinced that scouting would be a good fit for his son, Bert decided to step up to the challenge and volunteer to be a den leader. His son (who is now 21) stayed with the Boy Scouts until he had earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
Beadle had seen “Follow Me, Boys!” and wanted to share it with his son. In the film’s big pay-off scene, Lem Siddons (Fred MacMurray) is honored with a big parade. While this scene was playing, Beadle’s son leaned over to him and said “Dad, do you see what I see?”
Beadle didn’t get it. His son explained, “The sign says ‘Lem.’ Spell ‘Lem’ backward.”
It was an unexpected “aha” moment for Beadle.
Their own scouting community had a hero who was very similar to Lem Siddons. His name was Mel (Melvin) Detwiler. As Beadle tells the story, “Mel became an assistant Scoutmaster with the troop some time in the 1950s. By the time we saw the movie, Mel was in his 80s and was still active with our troop, having by then spent many years as both Scoutmaster and assistant Scoutmaster.” He says Mel was “the sort of dedicated man that was a good example for the Scouts and also for us leaders.”
After watching the movie with his son, Beadle showed it to the entire troop. They wound up stealing an idea from the movie and presenting Mel with a “Scoutmaster Emeritus” badge they had created themselves. From then on, Mel wore the badge whenever he was in uniform.
When Mel passed away a few years ago, the troop established a memorial fund and an award for “Lifetime Commitment to Scouting,” in Mel’s name. It’a an award given to leaders specifically for providing service after their own sons are no longer active in the troop.
Being a part of the Boy Scouts, Beadle adds, was one of the best things he did in terms of his relationship with his son. “We have developed great friendships and enjoyed doing scouting things together. We’ve had tremendous adventures. I saw my son gain amazing self confidence and character. And scouting isn’t just great for the scouts. It’s an invaluable experience for the leaders. Everybody wins.”