It’s just an old photo, but it packs a perfect one-two punch.
First, it’s a cool snapshot of two famous boxers meeting with Scouts more than a half-century ago. But second, it’s the beginning of a photographic treasure hunt to determine more info about the picture.
Naturally, as with any good Scouting mystery, I thought I’d see if Scouting volunteers like you can help solve it.
The Bangor Daily News in Maine first put a spotlight on the mystery photo this week. The picture depicts six or seven Scouts, two heavyweight boxing champs and a handful of adult leaders in 1965. The photo, found amid returnable bottles at a facility in South Portland, Maine, has a few tantalizing clues to its many unanswered questions.
The biggest clue is written on the back in cursive: “Cerebral palsy Boy Scout camporee, 1965.”
On the front, two more big, burly clues stare back at us in the forms of a pair of heavyweight boxing champs.
On the left, wearing a tie and standing behind a wheelchair, that’s James Braddock, the world heavyweight champion from 1935 to 1937 and the subject of 2005’s Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe. On the right, also wearing a tie and standing behind a wheelchair, we see “Jersey” Joe Walcott, who held the world heavyweight title from 1951 to 1952.
Walcott refereed the controversial 1965 fight between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali in Lewiston, Maine. Ali knocked out Liston in the first round, using a “phantom punch” still discussed today. The New York Times writes that Braddock was in attendance at the fight, so it makes sense that both men would be pictured together in Maine in 1965.
But beyond that? We have more questions than answers.
“Where the photo came from, who it belongs to, how it got into a bag of returnables and the identity of the Scouts is unknown,” Troy R. Bennett writes in the Bangor Daily News.
Can you help us solve the mystery? Let’s go over the clues.
‘Cerebral palsy Boy Scout camporee’
On the back of the photo in blue ballpoint pen are these words: “Cerebral palsy Boy Scout camporee, 1965.”
In addition to giving us a sense of time and place, those words remind us that Scouting welcomes everyone, even those with special needs.
Also on the back is the name of Scout leader Clayton Duplisea.
Frank Maguire, Pine Tree Council commissioner, tells the Bangor Daily News that Duplisea is the man standing on the far left of the photo. Maguire says Duplisea was the Scout Executive in Portland in the 1920s.
Maguire says Duplisea led a troop of boys with cerebral palsy and was a fierce advocate for Scouts with special needs.
“Clayton did what he could to help those kids have a [proper Boy Scout] program,” Maguire told the paper. “He was adamant and saw to it that those kids got some attention.”
If you have any information about this photo, you can contact Troy R. Bennett at the Bangor Daily News: tbennett (at) bangordailynews (dot) com.
You can also leave a comment below, and I’ll pass it along to Bennett.
If the photo’s owner can’t be identified, all is not necessarily lost. It will likely end up in a collection of Maine Scout memorabilia at the Pine Tree Council’s Camp William Hinds.