The Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America

March 27, 2024

This story is from my third book of short stories. It will be published in the fall of 2024.

So, the following story is based on a true incident, a sad incident that happened when I was young, when I was innocent and unassuming. This incident happened in the early winter month of November, back in 1970. I was twelve at the time. I grew up in N.W. Portland, became a Cub Scout when I was eight or nine, then advanced to a Bear Scout when I turned twelve, I became a Webelo. Our Den leader back then was Mr. Jim Tetterberry. We called him Jim or “Jimmy” or Mr. Tetterberry. He was married and had two small boys. He lived down off on N.W. Raleigh. I started out in his troop, troop #385, it was back in September of 1970. At first, he seemed O.K. He taught us stuff, took us camping and showed us how to tie knots. He was odd though, he had a feminine side to him, and he was kind of touchy fellie with the boys. I was a dumb kid back then; I had no clue about certain things.

Our Den was big, we had a lot of guys that attended Chapman back then and who were from Cathedral Grade School. We learned cool camping stuff and made things. We used to meet at his house every Wednesday night at 7 PM. Our meetings were usually a couple hours. We worked on getting our badges. He looked over us and use to put his hands on our shoulders, and smiley handsomely at the boys. We’d go on hikes in Forest Park.

In early December of 1970 we meet at Mr. Tetterberry’s house. We went down in his basement where he had a shop and a big table set up for us to work on. He had a bunch of tools spread out. We were going to make Christmas wreaths as a project that day. We’d use Styrofoam circles and pinecones and decorate them to look festive. We were going to sell them going into Christmas that year.

We met that cold, dark, Wednesday night, about twelve guys showed up. We sat in his shop putting the wreaths together. Some of my closest friends were in that Den with me. Some of the guys had been in the Boy Scouts for a couple years. We took off our winter coats and hung them on hooks located along the wall. I took my stocking cap and hung it next to my coat. The dark clouds seemed to cast an eerie feeling that night, it was strange. The cold hard rain continued to fall.

Mr. Tetterberry looked at me. He put his right hand on his chin and tilted his head a bit and put his other hand on his hip and said, “Grant can you do me a HUGE big favor?” I looked at him and said, “Sure.” He walked around the shop checking on the boys working on the wreaths, “Grant, Grant, I’d like you to go upstairs, I left a screwdriver upstairs, I left it by the bed it’s on the nightstand. Could you go upstairs and get the screwdriver and bring it down here?” I got up out of my seat and started walking up the stairs leading to his bedroom at the end of a long dark narrow hallway. I found the bedroom; the bed was made, and I could see that sitting on the nightstand was the screwdriver. A lamp was lit on the nightstand. I walked across the room and picked up the screwdriver, I had my back turned to the bedroom door. It was dark in the bedroom; I could hear someone approach the bedroom door; I could hear the bedroom door handle turning slowly. I stood there holding the screwdriver. I could hear my friend’s downstairs in the basement.

I guess I panicked a bit, got nervous I was afraid, I think. Slowly and suddenly, I heard the bedroom door open and in walked Mr. Tetterberry. He shut the door quietly behind him and he gave me a smile. He walked over to where I was standing, slowly he put his hand on my left shoulder and started to quickly force himself on me. I could see he was aroused. “Is that a banana in your pocket?” I asked. He tried to wrestle me to the bed. I tried to slap him and struggled. I slugged him. I dropped the screwdriver as he started to approach me. He put his right hand on my crotch and tried to kiss me. I struggled with him. I squeezed out of his embrace and ran to the bedroom door, swung it open, raced downstairs and ran out the basement side door. A couple friends saw me run out the door and started to follow me, a few of the other kids didn’t know what the hell was going on.

While I ran out of the bedroom Mr. Tetterberry ran after me, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Grant! Grant! Oh, dear Grant!” I kept running as fast as I could, never looking back. I felt like one of the kids in a Scoobie Doo cartoon, with old man Tetterverry running after me. Ran home, ran up N.W. Pettygrove and darted home to my mom’s place. Some other kids ran up after me. They were screaming at me to wait. My mom was home, and I rushed inside. I was panting, could barely breath. A couple kids ran inside and sat in the living room with me. My mom was startled by all the attention.

I frantically started to tell them what happened. My mother got nervous and panicked a bit. She started to freak out. She called the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America in Portland. She reported what happened. They listened to the story, but they yawned and ignored her, and they slowly swept the incident under the rug. It fell to deaf ears through the years. I never really tried to stay in touch with Mr. Tetterberry and his family after that. I closed the door on that part of my life. At least I thought I did. Several of the kids quit the troop within a few weeks after the incident occurred. I thought it over. I never knew for sure what happened to Mr. Tetterberry. I never saw him again and had no idea where things would go in the future with him.

The years went on. I always liked the movie, “Victor/Victoria” and “The World According to Garp.” What the hell!

Almost 50 years later.  Around the spring of 2019. I started seeing advertisements on the internet and on cable television. Advertisements regarding the Boy Scouts of America. They were asking if you or anyone you knew who had been abused in the past while being a member of the Boy Scouts of America. I never really paid them that much attention. Then I started to think, I started to think about what had happened years earlier. Hmmmmm……..

This is where the story gets good, unbelievable in a way. In early 2019, right before the height of Covid I filed a lawsuit with a law firm out of Chicago with handling claims with the Boy Scouts of America. They listened to my case, in detail. I was given a claim advisor that handled the questioning and the deposition. I went into detail. I was told by my lawyers that there were over 8,000 claims filed nationwide. The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy. The courts ordered them to pay $8.5 million with all the claims that eventually would be paid out. Most people filing claims were given a scale of severity with their claim. A scale from 1-6, with one being the least severe punishment and six being the most severe. I was told that I was given a three on the scale. A certain amount would be rewarded to where you rated on the scale.

When I filed my claim, I called the local Boy Scout of America chapter here in Portland. When I called the headquarters, I was just trying to make sure I got the right Den number with the one I was in. A Secretary at the other end told me the following, “Mr. Keltner, we threw away all those files’ years ago,” she hung up the phone. They swept it under the rug, turned their heads and went on like nothing happened. They flushed everything concerned with Mr. Tetterberry down the toilet.

In 2018 I was asked to read in a writing group based here in Portland. Back then Kelly Baker and the Angry Filmmaker’s writing group got together once every two weeks each month. We’d read at the Cider Mill, located in Hillsdale. We’d read on Wednesday nights. Well, back around February of 2020, in the early winter of 2020, right before COVID hit I was asked to read at the Cider Mill. I liked to test my stories while reading to the crowds.

An old grade school and high school friend of mine by the name of Chet Garonne went to the reading that night. I read a story from my first book of short stories. It was well received by the crowd. Afterwards Vince came up and told me how much he liked the story I had read. I thanked him and we got to talking.

“Chet were you in the Boy Scouts back in our neighborhood in N.W. Portland? Did you have Mr. Tetterberry for a Den Leader?” His eyes lit up when I asked him the question. “Yes Grant, I did have him as a Den leader. He used to touch kids a lot” I laughed to myself. I went on to tell him about the trial that I was involved with and told him the story with my involvement with Mr. Tetterberry and what happened that day we made those Christmas tree wreaths. He looked at me in surprise when I told him the story.

This is where the story really gets to be unbelievable. So, after I told Chet about what happened with me, and Mr. Tetterberry Chet looked at me with a serious look on his face. “I have something that might help you with your case.” I looked at him with a puzzled look. “Give me your email, I want to send you a few stories out of the Oregonian. It will help your case” I gave him my email and thanked him. “I’ll send you this info by tomorrow.” I thanked him and went home.

Well, the next day came around and I checked my email and there to my surprise was an email addressed to me, sent from Chet. I opened the email that he sent me. He sent a note and a link that took me to a long article about Mr. Tetterberry. It was a detailed article noting on how Mr. Tetterberry had gone on a twenty-five-year spree molesting kids as a Den leader. It went into detail describing two major court cases that were filed against him, one in the mid-1980’s and another trail back in the mid-1990’s. He was indited twice, the two trails cost the Boy Scouts of America close to $2.5 million dollars with the two settlements. The article showed that after the first trial that Mr. Tetterberry was let go and assigned to another troop located in another section of Portland. When he was assigned to the second troop, he molested a kid and was found guilty. The local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America tossed all his files after the second trial. He died in the late 1990’s.

I really couldn’t believe what I had read. The fact that after this was reported back in 1970 that Mr. Tetterberry went on a ride for nearly 25 years abusing underage boys. He divorced his wife. When I got the story, I immediately sent it to my advisor and put it on file with my case. I first reported and filed my case in 2019. I received the article on Mr. Tetterberry in the winter of 2020. Almost one year after filing. “This should help your case, Grant!” said my advisor with my claim.

I wanted to note that I came from a broken home, came from a split home. Raised by my mom. My mother was all inclusive, taught me to accept all people, She wanted me to accept people for who they were, no matter if they were gay, black, brown, yellow and all colors in between, she wanted me to accept everyone under the rainbow. My father was different. When he was growing up in Chicago, he told me a few times about how he was corned by a man in a movie theater and how he forced himself on my father. My father was a red neck, a platoon sergeant from Korea, was on scholarship to Oregon with football. When he died back in 1994, I don’t know if he knew that my Half-Brother Nathan was gay. He came out around 2010 I figure. So, I don’t know how my father would have felt about his second son being gay. In the last ten years I’ve had two of my closest friends come out. I’m not gay.

So, its March of 2024, I filed my claim over three years ago now. My claim was submitted and now is under evaluation with the company paying out the claims. I was told that I should hear something at the end of March or early April of 2024. I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with all of this. How do you compensate someone after all these years? It will be interesting to see where this goes.

I was asked by my lawyers and claim advisor if I thought what happened had an impact on my life while I was growing up, I told them honestly, “I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I was innocent and just a kid. I guess that it made me more aware of the things that could happen it opened. I guess I was more guarded, especially in a neighborhood like N.W. Portland back then.” I’m waiting to hear back with my claim. Any day now I hope, I don’t know what to expect from all this. I wish that my mother’s voice could have been heard back in 1970. I think it could have helped. This unfortunately is a true story.

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