Travel and Adventure | Newberry

Travel and Adventure

I have failed so far to track down the genius who said something along the lines of, “Under no pretense of modesty should a fact be rejected”, when explaining to people how great he was. I was reminded of him when I was listening to a writer explain his latest book, which was about a fairly popular subject. “Why write a book about THAT” someone demanded, “When there are about 400 books on the subject already?”

He didn’t even blink. “Because mine is better.”

I should not mock the author who reminded me of both these gents since, after all, it was the publisher who tucked the little card into the book. I have no proof that the author wrote it, or even knew about it. Perhaps he was too modest to say these things in the text, and THAT’S why the publisher enclosed a card with each copy to explain,

“This is the only work on Africa treating the whole continent in one volume. The chapters in this book have been written at the “time and the place”. On safari, on river boats, on the desert, in tropical swamps, on railroad trains, in tents, in hotels, at sea level, at a 10,000 foot altitude, at night and in the day time, Mr. Boyce prepared copy. Often he wrote while brushing off the tsetse fly and listening to the roar of lions. He has taken notes on a camel’s back while the Arab driver chased away the Bedouin dogs. He has prepared copy during an earthquake.”

The book involved was Illustrated Africa: North, Tropical, South, and the author was a man who lived so many lives that he HAD to release some of the details in books, one William D. Boyce.

Boyce was a Chicagoan for most of his life, and the life he was MOST famous for was his life as a founder, then competitor, and then hero of the Boy Scouts of America. According to legend, he got lost in a fog in London, and was helped out by a boy who refused a tip, saying he was just doing his duty as a Boy Scout (original British version.) Boyce had never heard of such a thing, but he read up on it, and when he got back to the U.S., started his own version. Many of the values instilled in Boy Scout activities were the things Boyce valued. He’d been an outdoorsman most of his life (and, as you can tell from the paragraph above, stayed that way.)

He later fought with the administrators of the B.S.A., and broke off to start a competing outfit called the Lone Scouts of America. But he and the Boy Scouts eventually made up, and he is a permanent member of the Boy Scout pantheon of heroes.

He was a Chicago newspaperman of some importance, and one of the first to use newspaper boys to make deliveries. He organized them, too, to see they stayed out of trouble and, as for their elders, he was a friend to the union organizers who showed up at his workplace. He was also a mover and shaker in Chicago politics for a while, but eventually moved to the suburbs and gave up on the big city to spend time with his wife and kids.

He was married four times, but to only three different women. His fourth wife was also his first wife, an outdoorswoman herself, known as “Rattlesnake Jane” to their friends. (Whoever wrote the Wikipedia article states flatly that she was more masculine than he was.) When he married his second wife, his son by his first wife started a fight with him outside the Blackstone Hotel, leaving several facial scars. William D. Boyce just couldn’t do anything the quiet way. He built what was then the most expensive office building in Chicago, offered to BUY the U.S. Post Office so it would be run properly (not the Chicago branch: the entire U.S. postal service), started the first magazine that subsisted almost entirely on Hollywood gossip, and….

All things considered, he probably did NOT write the paragraph quoted. It’s too shy.

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