News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 18, 2013

Historical Treasure: Sea Scout rendered aid to those in need

Marylee Hagan
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Two recent gifts to the collection gave me the opportunity to learn something I didn’t know, and they also presented me with an example of how interwoven are the pieces of Vigo County history.

 Recently, society member Sunny Cohen gave us several items that had belonged to her late husband, Nelson Cohen. Among those items was a dark navy blue wool middy from the “Sea Scouts,” and a picture of Nelson in a group of Boy Scouts attending the 1937 National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America in Washington. Also pictured is Virginia Jenckes, congresswoman from Indiana.

My research of the Sea Scouts revealed that they are a division of the Boy Scouts. Originally created in England in 1910, the United States division was started in 1912 by Arthur Carey and Charles Longstreth.

The Sea Scout promise states, “As a Sea Scout I promise: to do my best to guard against water accidents; to know the location and proper use of the lifesaving devices on every boat I board; to be prepared to render aid to those in need; and to seek to preserve the motto of the sea, ‘Women and children first.’”

An inscription on the framed photograph reads, “Let us work together for good American citizenship,” signed by Mrs. Virginia Jenckes, member of the United States Congress. Jenckes, from Terre Haute, was the first woman from Indiana to be elected to Congress.

An account in our archives about the Flood of 1943 lists the Sea Scouts among those who helped with relief and evacuation efforts. True to his promise, Nelson Cohen “rendered aid to those in need.”