As the tallest Boy Scout who ever lived, Robert Pershing Wadlow was the kind of kid you’d want in your Scout patrol.
At age 13, he was 7 feet 4 inches tall — head and shoulders (and most of his torso) above anyone else in his troop.
One imagines him scoping out the trail ahead with ease, hanging bear bags by hand and being picked first for pretty much any team sport.
There were surely drawbacks to his dimensions, though. At 7-foot-4 and 270 pounds, a normal Scout uniform wasn’t going to do. Apparently it took 14 yards of 36-inch-wide material to make his Boy Scout uniform. His sleeping bag and tent would’ve needed modification, too.
And it was best not to get in line behind Wadlow at dinnertime. It was said he ate an average of 8,000 calories a day.
I can’t find out how long Wadlow remained in Scouting, and records don’t show that he became an Eagle Scout.
But the February 2007 edition of Boys’ Life and historical photos confirm that he was a Scout.
Wadlow was born in 1918 in Alton, Ill., and was a normal-size baby. A problem with his pituitary gland caused him to grow — and grow and grow. His father had to remove part of the front seat of his car so Wadlow could stretch out his legs from the back.
Guinness World Records confirms that Wadlow was the tallest man who ever lived. He grew to be 8 feet 11.1 inches tall.
“His hands were more than a foot long from his wrist to the top of his middle finger,” according to the Boys’ Life story, which you can read below.
Wadlow dealt with health problems throughout his life and needed braces to strengthen his ankles. He died in 1940 at age 22 and was buried in a half-ton coffin measuring 10 feet, 9 inches and requiring 12 men to carry.
Photos from Alton Museum of History and Art.
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