Thirty-year-old error still important to Scout

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; The bicentennial celebration was a year filled with excesses and superlatives &8212; fireworks, bands, speeches and special events galore.

For a young teen named John Daniel &8220;Danny&8221; Newman, 1976 was special for another reason.

In January of that year, Newman became an Eagle Scout, an accomplishment made by only 4 percent of all Boy Scouts.

Email newsletter signup

Thirty years later he called The Natchez Democrat for a favor. &8220;Do you all make corrections,&8221; he asked politely. &8220;What if it was 30 years ago?&8221;

Not only would The Democrat make the correction, he learned. His correction might make the front page.

Newman, now living in Idaho, years ago was disabled in an oil rig accident in which both his legs were crushed and his back injured.

&8220;I was going through some old papers,&8221; he said. &8220;It was amazing to see the picture. I just decided to call to see if you&8217;d make the correction.&8221;

He mailed the clipping to the newsroom; and there in the photograph is Walton Hootsell, scoutmaster, with the seven beaming boys who that day had received their Eagle Scout badges.

The problem was, only six boys had been named in the caption that accompanied the photo. And the name of one of those six was garbled. And the last name of another was misspelled.

Danny Newman&8217;s name was not in the caption. His brother, Leslie, standing next to him, was identified as Leslie Neuman &8212; another error.

&8220;EAGLE SCOUTS &8212; Jackie Roberts, Dan Wallace, Leslie Neuman, Tom Borum, Rusterling and Gene Coley were presented their Eagle Badges at Honor Court held Monday night at the Jefferson Street United Methodist Church, which sponsors Troop 166. Walton Hootsell, Scout Master, presented the boys with their badges,&8221; the caption reads.

Who was Rusterling? Well, the Natchez native in the newsroom figured it had to be Rusty Easterling, son of Lynwood and Jean Easterling. And it was.

Rusty Easterling, now owner of a medical supply company in Crosby, said he did not recall the photo with the errors. He did remember getting the Eagle Scout badge, however, and he remembered all the guys in the photo when their names were called.

Most of all, he remembered Hootsell, the troop leader. &8220;Mr. Hootsell did everything for us. He was the most generous man I&8217;ve ever run across. He was a big influence on all our lives.&8221;

Newman said the same. &8220;I was really lucky to be in Mr. Hootsell&8217;s troop. He was one of the smartest men I&8217;ve ever known &8212; both worldly and logical. And he prepared us for life.&8221;

Tom Borum, now a Natchez

veterinarian, said he proudly lists his Eagle Scout achievement as part of his resume.

&8220;You don&8217;t think about the value of Eagle Scout and you don&8217;t appreciate all Mr. Hootsell did for you until later in life,&8221; Borum said. &8220;At the time we were just having fun and didn&8217;t realize how important it was.&8221;

Hootsell, who was a scoutmaster for 55 consecutive years and now is retired, said he, too, grew up in scouting and wanted to be a part of teaching another generation about Scouts.

Hearing the names of the boys in the 1976 picture brought back memories of those and other boys in his troops over the half century he worked with Boy Scouts.

&8220;Basically, scouting is a school with almost endless proportions,&8221; he said. The stories he has heard about life successes of his Eagle Scouts have been impressive.

&8220;It&8217;s all based on competition and achievement,&8221; he said. &8220;It was a wonderful thing to watch those boys grow up.&8221;

Newman&8217;s brother, Leslie, died in 1984. Soon after that, most of the family moved away. Several family members live in Idaho, where he is with his wife of 23 years. They have three children, a son, 19, a daughter, 18, and a daughter, 15.

&8220;I was born in 1962,&8221; Newman said. &8220;I was told that I was one of the youngest ever to make Eagle Scout in the nation.&8221;

And now, here is the proof that he made it. The Natchez Democrat is happy to set the record straight.