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January 12, 1998

Features

The terrible Trimble tragedy

  by Oscar Roloff
   It was 1927, and I was in the 5th grade in Toppenish, WA on the Yakima Indian Reservation. We had had to move from the sagebrush farm way out in the Harrah Hills because the previous winter had been so rough that we seldom made it to school. We had to walk 3 1/2 miles to the bus stop and then ride on the school bus. The cold was terrible with waist-high snow. Thus, that next fall we'd moved into Toppenish. Here I joined the Boy Scouts and was working for my first class scout badge.
  
   That spring, the night before we were to move back out into the sticks, I was to become a first class scout. Our assistant scout leader was Eldon Trimble, a high school senior. He was to give me my first class scout test. I did fine, except I said the letter O in Morse Code was two dashes; he said it was three. Thus, I failed the test. I cried that in the morning we would move back out into the hills, and I'd never again live in the city and have the scouting opportunity.
  
   Made no difference
   For years I kept a grudge against Trimble who had risen high in local industry. Twenty years ago, I drove over to look up the fellow who had kept me the oldest second class scout in the nation. I stopped to have a beer and mentioned what Trimble had done to me. I told the barkeep I was going to go to his shop next door and belt him. The barkeep went into the back and shortly returned. When I finished my beer, I sauntered over and asked if Eldon was there. The lady said, "No. He just left and will be out of town for a few days." So, here I am, 63 years later and still the oldest second class scout and nearing the age of 80. It should be in "Ripley's Believe It Or Not."
  
   Just last month I took one last look at the degrading second class scout card and flung it into the waste basket. Oh yes. Eldon Trimble is dead. I think my looking for him caused Trimble to tremble and hit the skids.