I heard today from a great-grandchild (one of 30) of the little girl in the story below, which prompts me to post this two-year-old story where it will be more easily found than in the pay-for-access files of the Salt Lake Tribune. I apologize for its Utah-centric emphasis for this audience; that’s the nature of my newspaper column, and my excuse is that it speaks of early Scouting efforts in the church.
If — and it’s a big if – the Scouting program is implemented the way it was designed, and not in a slapdash unprepared way by ward leaders who have no real commitment to the program, are sk ills learned still significant enough to justify Scouting as an official church program in the US? What aspects of Scouting merit such a close relationship to the church?
Utahâ€™s Boy Scouts have had a rough couple of years with forest fires, massive searches for lost Scouts, and the untimely deaths of beloved sons. Although recent tolls have been heavy, the rewards, over time, have been priceless.
Tessie Dalebout turned six in the spring of 1912. On May Day of that year, as the curly-haired child skipped along the banks of Parleyâ€™s Creek in Salt Lake City, she lost her footing and slipped into the turbulent waters.
The stream, swollen by melting snow, caught the tiny girl and tumbled her end over end. She was carried for nearly a block, passing under two bridges before some men who had seen her fall were able to catch her. They pulled her out and laid her on the bank. A crowd gathered around the still form.
Noticing the commotion, 15-year-old Louis Rosenlund ran to see what was happening. He saw that rescuers were using the old-fashioned technique of pumping Tessieâ€™s arms and legs in a vain attempt to restore breathing. Young Louis immediately took over from the adults.
He turned Tessie on her stomach and positioned her arms under her forehead to raise her nose and mouth off the ground. Then he knelt astride the childâ€™s hips, placing both hands on the small of her back. With a gently increasing pressure, he leaned into Tessie, pushing slowly, steadily upward to compress her abdomen and lower chest. Water gushed from her mouth.
Then Louis suddenly relaxed his pressure, and the natural elasticity of Tessieâ€™s body caused her chest to expand and air to fill her lungs.
Again and again and again, Louis applied firm pressure, forcing the breath out of Tessieâ€™s lungs, then relaxing his arms to allow fresh air to rush in. It took nearly 15 minutes, but finally Tessie began to breathe on her own. She was carried home to her grateful parents before any doctor arrived on the scene.
It turns out that Louis Rosenlund was a patrol leader in the Waterloo Ward MIA Scouts. On a recent Tuesday evening, Louis and his friends had learned the relatively new Schaefer method of artificial respiration. While not as sophisticated as todayâ€™s mouth-to-mouth breathing, it was light years ahead of the old sailorsâ€™ trick of stimulating the lungs by raising and lowering a victimâ€™s arms.
The Boy Scout movement originated with Lord Robert Baden-Powell in Great Britain in 1909. It was brought to the United States in 1910, and an Episcopal minister organized Utahâ€™s first troop in Logan the same year. Louis Rosenlundâ€™s Waterloo Ward boys formed the first LDS-sponsored troop; organized during the winter of 1911-1912, it competes with the independent group raised by an18-year-old Scout for honors as the earliest Salt Lake City troop. Itâ€™s hard to be absolutely certain, but Louis Rosenlundâ€™s rescue of little Tessie Dalebout is possibly the first case of a Utah life saved by Scout training.
Tessie soon recovered from her near-drowning. She grew up and married. When Tessie Dalebout Harrop passed away in 1971, having lived all her life in Salt Lake City, she was survived by her husband, a son, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. They, and all of Tessieâ€™s descendants born since then, have good reason to thank the preparation that Scouting teaches.
Cool-headed Louis Rosenlund continued to support civic and fraternal organizations as he grew up. He worked as the Salt Lake City sales rep of a Minnesota paper company. The former Scout was never robust, however, and heart disease took him from his wife and two small children in 1931, at age 34.
Our Boy Scouts will cope with the lawsuits and relearn lessons of wilderness safety. We will remember Garrett Bardsley and Paul Ostler. And we will think of countless good turns, communities and lives bettered by Eagle projects, and a noble line of boy heroes reaching back to the earliest days of Scouting in Utah.
(originally published 21 August 2005)
For those unfamiliar with their stories, Garrett Bardsley, 11, vanished from a Scout campout in 2004; despite two summers of searching, his body has never been found. Paul Ostler, 15, was struck and killed by lightning while on a 2005 Scouting event.