by Ski Ingram
19 May 1970
As I walked out of the chapel one Sunday morning, after opening exercises for Sunday School, I saw for the first time Kenneth Gay Gallacher. He was a short, but well-built boy of 16. He reminded me of someone, then it hit me, he looked like Elvis Presley. I also thought “so this is the runt that thinks he can do a better job than me as the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster.” I had asked to be the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster after our Ward split from Hermosa Beach Ward which moved us to Redondo 3rd Ward and back to the old church building.
I was in Manhattan Beach Ward for years until we moved which put me in Hermosa Beach Ward. A short time later the Ward split and we were moved to Redondo 3rd ward and back to the old chapel that was built in 1939. Most of us were not happy, especially after working so hard to build our new building in Manhattan Beach.
We both wanted the job of Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. I didn’t like Kenny as I was afraid, he would get the job over me. As I walked towards him, I could have just as easily hit him in the head as shook his hand. Shake his hand I did. He had a very good grip for a little guy. I liked that. We talked of nothing, trying not to get too acquainted with each other.
As things turned out both of us were made the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, partly because no one had the heart to refuse the position to just one of us and partly because they had no Scoutmaster. They needed both of us to keep the 12 Boy Scouts in line.
Ken and I went right to work organizing the troop. I was amazed to discover how well we worked together and how our minds seemed to think of the same things at the same time. After a few months working together we developed a fairly good friendship.
We finally got a scoutmaster, Ken Alexander, and went on our first overnight Scout trip. Because there was a lack of interest from the fathers, I drove my car, a 1960 Ford Galaxy, to the Firestone Scout reservation in the Brea mountains. We spent Friday night and Saturday morning on the campout.
Myself, Dale Shiply, and a few Scouts loaded into my car and off we went. It was the start of a remarkable friendship between Ken and me. This is what I hope to convey in this story, the remarkable friendship that Ken and I have, our understanding of each other and our love of the gospel and Jesus Christ. If it wasn’t for our membership in the church, we wouldn’t have this friendship today.
When we arrived at camp, Ken was already there. He had ridden with Ken Homer. Brother Homer was our Priest Quorum adviser, and a great guy. Ken was a rough and rugged man about 5’7” with big shoulders. We all loved him as our leader.
We decided where we wanted to camp for the night and began to build a fire. When I was a Scout, the Green Bar (boy leadership) always slept apart from the Scouts and the adult leaders. Keeping with this tradition I gathered up our boy leaders and went off to find a place for us to sleep. We started climbing a hill. As we got near the top, we found an opening in the bushes big enough for all of us to sleep. It was about 10 PM when we all got settled that night. Before we could go to sleep, we needed something to eat. We decided to drive into town and get some geedunk (a Navy term for snack food). We snuck down the hill and drove off in my car singing “Strawberries, Cherries, and an Angels Kiss in Spring.” Words below.
“Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring. My summer wine is really made from all these things. I walked in town on silver spurs that jingled too. A song that I had only sung to just a few. She saw my silver spurs and said let’s pass some time. And I will give you summer wine. Ohh-oh-oh summer wine
Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring. My summer wine is really made from all these things. Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time and I will give to you summer wine.”
We stopped at the neighborhood Tic Toc market and bought soft drinks, potato chips, and Gaucho peanut butter cookies. As we were leaving a group of kids who had just left their High School Dance entered the store. Kenny, seeing an especially cute girl offered her anything in the store if she will come back to camp with us. Before we knew what was happening, she jumped in my car and stole our potato chips and ran away.
We were all in hot pursuit. She runs over to a closed gas station where she had a few accomplishes. After playing keep away for a few minutes the bag breaks and dumps our chip onto the ground. This got us mad and then the stupid girls started pouring Root Beer on us. We were really mad then, but we didn’t do anything.
Dale and I went back into the store to buy more potato chips while Kenny stayed at the gas station to wash the Root Beer off his hands. When Dale and I walked out of the store we saw a group of about 6 boys standing in a circle around Kenny. Thinking Kenny may need help, we at once began to run to his aid. Before we got halfway there the boys were on their way somewhere else. Dale and I were disappointed that they had left. We needed to show them how frustrated we were for their girls stealing our potato chips.
I asked Kenny what happened? He said, “well it seems that they were friends of the girls and they wanted to pay us back for being rude to them. I was washing my hands when they came up and surrounded me. I looked at each one of them, looked at the ground, them back up at the biggest one with the meanest look I could muster. I told him he was going down first. They all walked away without saying a word. I’m glad they believed me.”
On our way back to camp we sang four choruses of “Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring.” Driving into camp we made enough noise to wake up the State. I drove up the hill as far as I could near to where we were sleeping. The car was parked on a slant so when I opened the door, Ken, me, and everything we bought fell out of the car and rolled halfway down the hill.
We gathered everything up and went to bed, but we didn’t go to sleep. We stayed up all night singing “Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring” and telling jokes. By the time morning came I felt as if I had known Ken all my life, but I still didn’t like him very much.
After breakfast we started a “Gauntlet Race.” A Gauntlet Race is where you have a starting point and a finish line. Two people race each other to the finish line fighting all the way. Whoever wins the fight and gets to the finish line first wins. It’s lots of fun if the person you’re racing isn’t afraid to fight.
I raced Ken. We started at the top of a big hill and raced to the bottom fighting all the way. I didn’t think I’d have too much trouble as Ken was only about 5’6” and I was 6’3”. When we started down the hill Kenny tackled me and never let go. I was fighting all the way down the hill. I don’t remember who finally won, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is we gained respect for each other and started a lifelong friendship.
If you would like to hear Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood sing “Strawberries, Cherries and an Angels Kiss in Spring” just follow the hyper link below.
This story was written on August 19, 1970. I was in Army Special Forces training learning to be a Green Beret Medic at the time.