Community, former Eagles turn out to pay tribute to Charles Vaughan
By Lisa Schlichtman
Camping excursions at Broken Arm Cave, fishing trips on the James River arm of Table Rock and a trip to Roaring River to learn Morse code were just a few of the memories shared about the late Charles Vaughan this past Saturday during a tribute held in his honor at the Barry County Museum in Cassville.
Several men who became Eagle Scouts under Vaughan's tenure were present at the gathering as well as friends, community members and current members of Boy Scout Troop 76 that Vaughan guided for 50 years.
Before the start of the tribute, guests were able to tour the museum and view Scouting memorabilia donated by Vaughan's sons, Steven and Allen. Steven said the displays represented about 80 percent of his father's collection of Scouting memories, including the original charter for Troop 76 signed on Dec. 31, 1964, with the Cassville Rotary Club as the sponsoring organization and Charles Vaughan as the scoutmaster.
The tribute opened with a welcome by Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by current members of Troop 76. This group of young men also led the crowd in the recitation of the Boy Scout Pledge and Oath.
Holle then introduced a string of speakers who shared their personal memories of Vaughan. This group included: Max Fields, who served as assistant scoutmaster alongside Vaughan; John Babb, Gary Fields, Bobby Reams and Gary Chaney, four of Vaughan's Eagle Scouts; and Steven Vaughan, one of Vaughan's two sons.
Reams, Chaney and Babb were among the first young men from Cassville to become Eagle Scouts when Vaughan was scoutmaster. It was a tradition that continued for five decades and eventually grew to 78 Eagle Scouts.
"In all the years I knew Charlie, I don't think I ever heard the man say a word I wouldn't say in front of all of you," said Max Fields. "Charlie also had one wonderful wife (Joyce) and their home was always open to Scouts and full of Scouts."
Babb spoke about first meeting Vaughan in 1957 when he was 11 years old. He said he remembered walking into a Boy Scout meeting at his father B.F. Babb's urging, and seeing a man standing there with "a grin on his face that went from ear to ear and more hair on his head than should be allowed."
Babb shared about one outing where Vaughan was teaching them Morse code using the wig-wag flag system. He said Vaughan took the boys down to Roaring River and divided the troop into two groups.
"We began to send messages back and forth with our flags," said Babb. "At first we were sending rinky-dink messages and then the other patrol sent a message that said 'your mommas wear combat boots,' and then we sent one that said 'Charles Vaughan looks like the south end of a northbound bull.' We then heard a shout from a half mile away - 'Damn you Babb,' Charlie shouted. I'll never forget that voice and the sight of 20 boys rolling on the ground laughing with joy."
Chaney also shared a long list of his own memories of Vaughan that included stories about using hickory logs in the wood stove at the Scout Hut, putting the canoe in the old swimming pool and taking camping trips to Muncie, Radium Springs, Sugar Camp Tower and Star City.
"Charlie sure affected an awful lot of people," Chaney said.
Reams said he spoke to many of Vaughan's former Boy Scouts during the week leading up to the tribute and each one wished they could attend the ceremony.
"Without exception each one said if anyone needs to be honored it's Charles Vaughan," said Reams. "Many couldn't be here but wanted him honored. Jerry Swearingen said 'gosh I'd love to be there. Next to my dad, Charles Vaughan had more impact on my life than any other man." And I say that too."
Near the end of the tribute, Steven Vaughan addressed the crowd and read a story he wrote 26 years ago in honor of the 50th anniversary of Troop 76 entitled "A Weekend to Remember." The reading offered a humorous retelling of one of his father's famous camping excursions, and Steven's recitation produced lots of laughter from the audience.
Steven ended his portion of the program by handing out some of his dad's scouting patches to Eagle Scouts, scoutmasters and leaders who were in attendance. He also presented Babb with Charles Vaughan's Handbook for Scoutmasters, which was signed by the man being honored.
"Thank you so much for what this community has done for my father and my mother," said Steven.
Holle concluded the event by signing a proclamation that designates Charles Vaughan "as an Honored Citizen of Cassville of the 20th Century in the City of Cassville."