Remembering American Military Veterans on this Memorial Day (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

American Flag at Snellville, Georgia, May 26, 2014

American Flag at Snellville, Georgia, May 26, 2014

My son put out the American flag today, in special remembrance of America’s military veterans and in celebration of Memorial Day 2014.¬† Putting out the flag has become somewhat of a tradition for him throughout the past few years, particularly since it was a requirement for one of his achievements as a Cub Scout.¬† Today, he put out the flag as a new Boy Scout.¬† Last evening, my family also watched the Memorial Day tribute celebration on television, as broadcasted by PBS.¬† That has also been a tradition in my family for many years.¬† This year is the 25th anniversary of the annual Memorial Day broadcast.

In remembrance of military veterans in my family, I have authored this article, having arranged photos and/or memorabilia of all of those known family members and/or ancestors who have served in the American military.  I am thankful for those who have risked their lives and/or who have given their lives for the freedoms that I enjoy.

One important issue to keep in mind, however, is that our freedoms may be our right, but should also be practiced with appropriate reason and rationalization.¬† I stated this, particularly due to interpretations of the Second Amendment of our country’s Constitution, in regard to the right to bear arms.¬† We should all keep in mind that while we have a right to bear arms, that does not mean that we have the right to take another’s life, unless circumstances absolutely warrant it in matters of self-protection.¬† Let us not allow the right to bear arms, as well as monetary-backed interests to that aim,¬†to remain more important than protecting people’s lives.

May we all strive to live together in peace and harmony.  Let us all remember the sacrifices of those who serve and who have served in our military forces so that not only our freedoms are maintained, but so that the spirit of democracy may infuse those in other countries, as well.  May our military forces stationed in Afghanistan soon return home, and back to our wonderful democracy!

Memorial Postcard in Remembrance of the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Memorial Postcard in Remembrance of the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Grand Army of the Republic Veteran's Medal from the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Grand Army of the Republic Veteran’s Medal from the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Fred Henn, Civil War Veteran, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1870-1890

Fred Henn, Civil War Veteran, Hamburg, New York, Circa 1870-1890

Harry H. Gale, Member of American Military in New York State, , Hamburg, New York, 1880s

Harry H. Gale, Member of American Military in New York State, Hamburg, New York, 1880s

John Briggs, North Collins, NY, Soldier in World War I, Circa 1917

John Briggs, North Collins, NY, Soldier in World War I, Circa 1917

John Hintermister (the Elder), American Military Veteran

John Hintermister (the Elder), American Military Veteran

Funeral Card of David I. Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968 (Killed in Vietnam War) (Wentland Funeral Home, North Collins, New York)

Funeral Card of David I. Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968 (Killed in Vietnam War) (Wentland Funeral Home, North Collins, New York)

Funeral Card of David Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968

Funeral Card of David Briggs, North Collins, New York, 1968

Henry Curtis, World War II Veteran

Henry Curtis, World War II Veteran

Eugene Spires, World War II Veteran

Eugene Spires, World War II Veteran

James Kibbe, Korean War Veteran

James Kibbe, Korean War Veteran

Peter Krakowiak, American Navy Veteran

Peter Krakowiak, American Navy Veteran

Arnold Bennett, Vietnam War Veteran

Arnold Bennett, Vietnam War Veteran

John Nice, Jr.,  American Military Member

John Nice, Jr., American Military Member

I am also aware that one of the Tomaszewski men (formerly of Gowanda, New York, and now of Chicago, Illinois), a cousin to my mom, was a pilot in the Air Force, possibly in the Vietnam War.

These photos, information, and memorabilia represent all those known individuals within my family, and from my family ancestry, who have served in the American military.  I salute you for your risks, sacrifices, and in the case of David Briggs, his ultimate sacrifice, for the freedoms and protections of others.  While I have taught history, and honor and appreciate our military veterans, I am not one who has the will to risk my life in possible sacrifice in the military.  You all are a credit to our country for your service, and to the preservation of democracy.

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The Nice, Hintermister, and Martin Side of the Family (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Michele Babcock-Nice, John Nice, Jr., and Son, Buford, Georgia, 2004

Michele Babcock-Nice, John Nice, Jr., and Son, Buford, Georgia, 2004

I married John Nice, Jr. in July 2002, and our son was born the following year in 2003. ¬†John is a member of the Nice Family of Jacksonville, Florida. ¬†John is a high school physics teacher; most of my career experience (15 years, to date) has also been in teaching. ¬†John’s mother, Carol (Martin) Greene Nice Bennett is from the Martin Family of Florida. ¬†Carol’s parents were Elizabeth “Bessie” (Robinson) Martin and Elmer Martin of Florida. ¬†This article will provide information and photos of some members of those families, as well as the Hintermister’s, who were cousins to the Nice’s due to Betty Jane (Hintermister) Nice marrying Clarence Carter Nice, Jr.

The Nice's, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2004

The Nice’s, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2004

This photo is of my family with John’s parents, Carol (Martin) Greene Nice Bennett and J. Bob Nice. ¬†Carol and Bob have been divorced twice and married three times. ¬†Both of them are now married to their third spouse. ¬†Carol is currently married to Arnold (“Art”) Bennett and Bob is married to Marilyn Nice. ¬†Carol has two brothers, Louis and Charles (“Buddy”) Martin. ¬†They are both married and have families. ¬†Carol also has two sisters. ¬†Her older sister experienced late stage breast cancer and died before I knew her. ¬†I don’t know alot about her older sister. ¬†Her younger sister is Rachel (Martin) Hunter, who is married to Charles Hunter, and¬†they have¬†two daugthers, Kelli and Brandi. ¬†Carol and her family were raised in rural Live Oak, Florida¬†during their¬†childhood.

The Nice's and The Bennett's-Michele Babcock-Nice and  John Nice, Jr. and Son, Carol (Martin) Greene Nice Bennett, Arnold Bennett, Christmas 2004

The Nice’s and The Bennett’s-Michele Babcock-Nice and John Nice, Jr. and Son, Carol (Martin) Greene Nice Bennett, Arnold Bennett, Christmas 2004

This is a photo of my family with John’s parents, Carol (Martin) Greene Nice Bennett and Arnold “Art” Bennett. ¬†Our son was about 1.5 years old at that time. ¬†Carol is Art’s second wife; he had four children with his first wife, two sons and two daugthers.¬† Art is a Vietnam War military veteran.

Three Generations of Nice's (Bob, John, Baby, Marilyn, Janet's Son), Lawrenceville, Georgia, 2004

Three Generations of Nice’s (Bob, John, Baby, Marilyn, Janet’s Son), Lawrenceville, Georgia, 2004

Bob and Marilyn Nice came to visit us with Janet’s son in 2004.¬† This picture shows three generations of Nice’s, including Baby Nice.

John Nice, Jr. Dancing with Rachel (Martin) Hunter, Jacksonville, Florida, Summer 2002

John Nice, Jr. Dancing with Rachel (Martin) Hunter, Jacksonville, Florida, Summer 2002

This photo shows John Nice, Jr. dancing with Rachel (Martin) Hunter, the younger sister of his mom, Carol, in 2002.

Matt, Brandi (Hunter) and Baby Boy Brown, Tallahassee, Florida, Christmas 2005

Matt, Brandi (Hunter) and Baby Boy Brown, Tallahassee, Florida, Christmas 2005

Bob and Marilyn Nice, and Baby Nice, Snellville, Georgia, 2003

Bob and Marilyn Nice, and Baby Nice, Snellville, Georgia, 2003

This image is of my son as a newborn with his grandparents, Bob and Marilyn Nice when they came to visit and welcome the baby. ¬†Marilyn has two daughters, including one who is adopted. ¬†This is Marilyn’s second marriage and Bob’s third.

Wedding Party of John Nice Jr. and Michele Babcock-Nice, Snellville, Georgia, July 2002

Wedding Party of John Nice Jr. and Michele Babcock-Nice, Snellville, Georgia, July 2002 (Photo by Emmett Clower, Snellville, Georgia)

In this photo are members of John’s family. ¬†They include Janet (Greene) (Nice) Hebson Adams, Natalie (Nice) __ ¬†__ Tuttle, Jason Nice, Janet’s son, Carter Nice, and¬†Krissy Nice,¬†an adopted sister of John. ¬†Janet is a half-sister of John; she is divorced from her first husband, and is married to her second husband. ¬†Natalie has been divorced twice, and is currently married to her third husband. ¬†Jason and Carter Nice are John’s half-brothers.* ¬†One is married and has a family.* ¬†The other has never been married, has a son, and is separated from his son’s mother.* ¬†John also has another adopted sister, Jenni (Nice) Robison, who is married and has two daughters.¬†¬†Krissy has been married and divorced, and currently does not have any children. ¬†John’s sister, Natalie, pictured in this photo, is his only full biological sibling to him. ¬†Natalie’s children are her adopted children through her marriage to her third husband, Ben; her third husband has three children from his first marriage, of which he is divorced from his first wife. ¬†Natalie is an attorney.

Janet, Mike, and Son, Wedding, Jacksonville, Florida, 2003

Janet, Mike, and Son, Wedding, Jacksonville, Florida, 2003

This photo reflects Janet (Greene) (Nice) Hebson Adams with Mike Adams and Janet’s son from her first marriage. ¬†Both Janet and Mike are divorced from their first spouses; this is their second marriage. ¬†Mike also has a daughter from his first marriage.

Janet (Greene) Nice Hebson (and later, Adams) with Penny Nice, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2001

Janet (Greene) Nice Hebson (and later, Adams) with Penny Nice, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2001

Both this photo and the following one are those that I took at the Nice Family Christmas Party in 2001.

Jimmy Nice, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2001

Jimmy Nice, Jacksonville, Florida, Christmas 2001

The Nice's-Meghan, Krissy, Carter, Jamie, and Jason, Jacksonville, Florida, 2001

The Nice’s-Meghan, Krissy, Carter, Jamie, and Jason, Jacksonville, Florida, 2001

Ben and Natalie (Nice) Tuttle and Family, Georgia, 2004

Ben and Natalie (Nice) Tuttle and Family, Georgia, 2004

Christian, Stephanie, and Baby Girl Nice, Christmas 2004

Christian, Stephanie, and Baby Girl Nice, Christmas 2004

The Nice Boys-Carter, Jimmy, and Bob, Florida, Circa 1948

The Nice Boys-Carter, Jimmy, and Bob, Florida, Circa 1948

This photo shows the Nice boys performing at a church service or concert in Florida around 1948.

Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. and Betty (Hintermister) Nice, Circa 1945

Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. and Betty (Hintermister) Nice and Sons, Circa 1945

This is a photo of the Nice Family around 1945, showing John Nice, Jr.’s father as a toddler (the younger boy) with his brother, Clarence Carter Nice, III, and their parents, Betty (Hintermister) Nice and Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. ¬†The boys’ youngest brother, Jimmy, had not yet been born. ¬†Betty attended college from 1931-1935, graduating in May 1935 with a B.S. in Commerce, I believe from the University of Florida. ¬†She took many business, math, and economics classes, as well as Spanish and psychology.

Elizabeth Nice, Mother of Clarence Carter Nice, John Nice Jr.'s Great Great Grandmother (Image on Porcelain), Circa 1900

Elizabeth Nice, Mother of Clarence Carter Nice, John Nice Jr.’s Great Great Grandmother (Image on Porcelain), Circa 1900

The Nice’s were well-known in Jacksonville, Florida because Dr. Clarence Carter Nice and his son, Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. were symphony conductors there. ¬†Dr. Nice was also known as “Pops.” ¬†Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. also owned a music store in Jacksonville, which, following his death, has been continued by his sons, Bob and Jimmy (now deceased).

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice, Florida, 1934

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice, Florida, 1934

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice and Friends, Circa 1930s

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice and Friends, Circa 1930s

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice and Mrs. Nice, Florida

Dr. Clarence Carter Nice and Mrs. Nice, Florida

Starlight Symphonette, Conducted by C. Carter Nice, Jr., Jacksonville, Florida

Starlight Symphonette, Conducted by C. Carter Nice, Jr., Jacksonville, Florida

Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. at his Music Store, Jacksonville, Florida, 1995

Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. at his Music Store, Jacksonville, Florida, November 21, 1995 (Photo by John Pemberton from the Jacksonville Times-Union)

The Nice’s were big in the Jacksonville, Florida music scene from about 1930-1980. ¬†Clarence Carter Nice, III has been a prominent and successful symphony conductor in California, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather in being successful symphony conductors.

The Nice's and Hintermister's, Circa 1950

The Nice’s and Hintermister’s, Circa 1950

This photo shows the Hintermister’s (on the left) and the Nice’s (on the right) from about 1950 in Florida. ¬†The Nice’s and Hintermister’s are cousins. ¬†From left to right in the photo are Sam Hintermister, John Hintermister, Cril Hintermister, Clarence Carter “Carter” Nice, III, Jimmy Nice, and J. Bob Nice. ¬†Sadly, Jimmy struggled with and was lost to cancer a number of years ago. ¬†All of the others are still living. ¬†Sam is married and has adopted children; John is a widower (Candy) and has an adopted son, Josh; and Cril is a bachelor. ¬†Carter is married to his second wife, Jennifer, and has one daughter with her, Olivia; they live in California. ¬†Carter is divorced from his first wife, and has two children with her, a son and daughter, Christian and Danielle. ¬†Jimmy’s wife is Penny, and they have a son and daughter, Jamie and Meghan. ¬†Jamie is married.*¬† And, I have described about Bob throughout this article.

Divorce in the Nice Family began with Clarence Carter Nice, Jr., when he divorced from Betty. ¬†He married his second wife, Jean, and he adopted her children, a son and two daughters. ¬†The cycle of divorce was broken with Jimmy Nice, who remained married to his only wife, Penny. ¬†The cycle of divorce, however, was continued in both Carter and J. Bob Nice’s families when they became divorced. ¬†J. Bob Nice is divorced from his second wife, Karen (McLane/McLain) Kirton Nice.¬† Divorce has further continued with John Nice, Jr. due to his divorce from me in 2009. ¬†Most adults in the Nice Family, and half of the adults in the Nice’s extended family, therefore, have been married and divorced at least once. ¬†Three generations of single and/or multiple divorces presently exist in the Nice Family.

John Hintermister

John Hintermister

This photo is of John Hintermister, father of Sam, John, and Cril Hintermister.  He is a decorated military veteran, and is at rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Marguerite Hintermister

Marguerite Hintermister

This image is of Marguerite Hintermister, wife of John Hintermister. ¬†I believe these photos of them were taken at or prior to their attending a military ball. ¬†I’m not sure of the year in which the photos were taken. ¬†Marguerite was the sister of Betty Jane (Hintermister) Nice, who married Clarence Carter Nice, Jr.

Marguerite Hintermister in her Later Years, Florida

Marguerite Hintermister in her Later Years, Florida

Marguerite Hintermister on 100th Birthday, Florida

Marguerite Hintermister on 100th Birthday, Florida (Photo by Jill Gutmann, Jacksonville-area Newspaper, 1989)

Cril Hintermister Playing With Baby Nice, Waynesville, North Carolina, 2005

Cril Hintermister Playing With Baby Nice, Waynesville, North Carolina, 2005

John Hintermister and Bob Nice, Jacksonville, Florida, 2002

Bob Nice and John Hintermister (the Younger), Jacksonville, Florida, 2002

Mrs. Hintermister lived to be a centenarian.  This photo of her was taken on her 100th birthday while she was a resident of the North Florida Special Care Center.  She was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania in 1989, and moved to Gainesville, Florida in 1940.

So, all of this information and images lead back to my family, including my son, who is descended from the Babcock’s and Nice’s.

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

Janet's Son and my Son, Snellville, Georgia, Summer 2012

Janet’s Son and my Son, Snellville, Georgia, Summer 2012

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

My son has been a Cub Scout for five years, and will transfer to Boy Scouts in May 2014. ¬†He has been an honor student in school for many years. ¬†I love and am very proud of my “Nice” son!

As I locate additional relevant photos from the Martin side of the family, I will include them.

*Author’s Note: Please note that I have edited this article to reflect some of the information provided by Meghan Nice in her above comment.¬† I did review the article, and believe that no inaccuracies were made.¬† Information that was not known was merely excluded or written in a vague manner.¬† In a prior version of the article, information about Jamie Nice being married was not included because that information was not known.¬† Additionally, the information about John Nice, Jr.’s half brothers is correct because I did not specify which status (either married or separated) was attributed to which man.¬† I simply stated that one was separated and the other was married without naming them.¬† Therefore, I will maintain that information as is since it is correct.¬† For any further detail, please refer to the first comment above in which I have quoted and edited that of Meghan Nice.

References and Sources:

Clower, E. (2002).  Wedding Photos of Michele Babcock-Nice and John Nice, Jr.  Snellville, Georgia.

Guttman, J. (1989).  Photo of Marguerite Hintermister. Jacksonville, Florida-area newspaper.

J.C. Penney Portrait Studios (2004).  Babcock-Nice Family Photos.  Buford, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida.

Pemberton, J. (1995).  Photo of Clarence Carter Nice, Jr. in accompanying newspaper article about him.  Jacksonville, Florida: Jacksonville Times-Union.

Photos and information of Michele Babcock-Nice from 2002-2013 (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

Photos and information of Natalie (Nice) Tuttle from 1900-1960, Jacksonville, Florida.  Those included herein currently the property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

Other photographers/photo sources of professionally-taken photos, unknown.

“Scout Duty to God Banquet and Meeting Phil Niekro” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My Son Being Recognized at the Duty to God Banquet, Flowery Branch, Georgia, March 8, 2014

My Son Being Recognized at the Duty to God Banquet, Flowery Branch, Georgia, March 8, 2014

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, my family and I attended the Annual Northeast Georgia Council Boy Scout Duty to God Banquet.  This year, it was held at Prince of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia.  My son has earned both of his religious emblems as a Cub Scout, and was recognized for his most recent achievement from last year.

My son with Phil Niekro at Scout Banquet, Flowery Branch, Georgia, March 8, 2014

My son with Phil Niekro at Scout Banquet, Flowery Branch, Georgia, March 8, 2014

It was wonderful to have the opportunity to attend and enjoy the banquet, as well as to meet Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro there!  Ignorant that I am about most of baseball, I realized when Niekro gave his keynote speech to the boys, that he is well deserving of that honor, having achieved 318 career victories.  In his keynote speech, Niekro affectionately remembered his late brother, Joe, who Рbetween them Рshared 539 wins since he also played baseball.

My lucky son also won a raffle of one of the baseball cards of Niekro that he also signed.  Niekro also gave out signed photographs, placemats, and other memorabilia to scouts and dinner guests who correctly answered questions that he posed.  What a wonderful treat to share in good company, for my son to be recognized for his religious achievements in scouting, and to meet a famous baseball player, who also happens to be of Polish descent, as are my son and I.

Thank you, Scout leaders, for holding such a nice banquet, as well as providing a “cool” speaker for the boys!

References:

Wikipedia (2014). ¬†“Phil Niekro.” ¬†Retrieved on March 8, 2014 from¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Niekro

“On This Thanksgiving, Being Thankful for Who is Most Important, Children” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Being Thankful for my Son, and all Chilldren, Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful for my Son, and all Children, Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013

Another Thanksgiving has arrived, and again, I am most thankful for my family, especially for my son and all children.  Children are our future.  I believe that children are a blessing and a most precious gift from God.  Children give us joys and sorrows.  They depend upon us, grow with us, and become independent from us.  We are the role models for our children.  We have been given a most important duty of raising our children to the best of our ability.

I believe that all children should have what they need in life Рthe most important of these being good and decent parents who love and care for them properly and as parents should.  Money is not the most important.  Looks are not the most important.  What is most important is what is inside Рthe genuine goodness and beauty that can be instilled into a child by nurturing, caring, and compassionate role models.

I believe that life’s biggest responsibility – if one has children – is to be the best possible parent.¬† So, on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my son, for being a mom, and for my parents in being role models for me and for my son, their grandson.¬† I pray that all children will have the loving and caring role models and guides in their lives whom they need.¬† I am thankful.

For all those who celebrate this important, family-oriented holiday, may you enjoy a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

“Fun at Annual ScoutBlast Scout Show” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

At Scoutblast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

At ScoutBlast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

For the past three years, my family has enjoyed attending and/or participating in the Scoutblast Scout Show at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville, Georgia.¬† This year, the Scout Show was held during this past weekend, April 26-28, 2013.¬† My son attended this year’s event as a lone scout with me as his leader.

A Lilburn Boy Scout Making a Double Helix Bracelet for my Son, Scoutblast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

A Lilburn Boy Scout Making a Double Helix Bracelet for my Son, ScoutBlast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

This year, my son had opportunities to observe and/or participate in activities that he had not done previously.  For one, he had the pleasure of having a double helix bracelet be made for him by another local scout whom he knows, and who is an excellent role model. 

My Son with his Double Helix Bracelet, Scoutblast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

My Son with his Double Helix Bracelet, ScoutBlast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

The Boy Scouts from the Lilburn group who created the double helix bracelets truly had their work cut out for them as the bracelets were extremely popular with everyone, from children to adults.

Chess Activity Opportunity for Scouts, Scoutblast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

Chess Activity Opportunity for Scouts, ScoutBlast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

Additionally, for nearly one hour, my son participated in the chess activity for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Cub Scouts had the opportunity to earn a chess belt loop.  My son has completed enough requirements to earn both a belt loop and pin.

Chess Activity Opportunity for Scouts, Scoutblast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

Chess Activity Opportunity for Scouts, ScoutBlast Scout Show, Lawrenceville, Georgia, April 27, 2013

Interestingly, the much older Boy Scout who played my son told his friend, prior to the match, that it would be easy to beat my son, as I overheard him say.¬† Indeed, the match was very challenging.¬†¬†Further, even though a troop leader approached the boys’ match and coached the Boy Scout in his troop, my son defeated his opponent.¬† It was a great feeling of accomplishment for my son.

There were also many other fun and interesting activities at Scoutblast for the boys to do, including weekend camping, blasting small objects from a makeshift plastic pipe cannon, shooting off small rockets, observing and enjoying model train sets, and earning other belt loops, such as in marbles, geology, and other areas.

For the two years prior to this, my son participated in the District’s Pinewood Derby Championships, representing his pack.¬† This year, he did not have the opportunity to do so, however, he still enjoyed a wonderful time at the Annual Scoutblast Scout Show!

“Cub Scout Privacy Issue Transforms into Personal Vendettas Against Concerned Mom” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Car and Trophies, January 2013

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Car and Trophies, January 2013

On January 19, 2013, a local Cub Scout pack associated with a Roman Catholic Church in my area with which we were affiliated held it’s annual Pinewood Derby.¬† At the Pinewood Derby happened to be an older man who was photographing every child – scouts and their siblings – whom I had not before seen.¬† This man had a large professional-style camera, and was aggressively photographing the children, sometimes getting into their faces to do so.¬† As a former scout leader – who is also still certified, by the way – and as a concerned mom, red flags were raised in my mind about this man who appeared to be a professional photographer, whom I did not know, and who was quite aggressively photographing the children.

Toward the end of the Pinewood Derby when the children were receiving their awards for speed and design, I spoke to the photographer Рwho, by that point, I decided was a professional photographer Рand confronted him about why he was taking so many photos after he tapped me on my shoulder while I was taking photos and told me to move out of his way.  He took photos of my child and every other child, with no advance notice from pack leadership, nor with any opportunity not to provide consent, nor to opt-out of this situation. 

When the photographer would not answer my question, I became more concerned, and asked if someone hired him.¬† He replied that, indeed, another scout mother (whom I later discovered was a friend of his) hired him to take the photos.¬† I verbally stated to him that he did not have my permission to use any photos of my son, and he acknowledged that.¬† He then began to argue with me that he didn’t want to talk with me because he was taking photos.¬† This created an unpleasant and uncomfortable situation for me as I am interested in the privacy and protection of my son – and that of other children – and that a safe environment be provided and maintained.

Not knowing this man, nor what he was going to do with the photos that he took of every child, I e-mailed four particular leaders within the pack leadership committee whom I knew had the most experience in the pack.  Also, I did not e-mail other leaders because I did not know their names, nor their e-mail addresses.  I e-mailed the four particular folks, expressing my concerns for privacy and safety of my son, and that of other children regarding this individual, whom I discovered was, indeed, a professional photographer.  I requested the name and contact information of the professional photographer so that I could send him my nonconsent in writing regarding the photos that he took of my child without my permission. 

One of the den leaders whom I had e-mailed put up an unnecessary argument with me in response to my concern, and did not at all take the situation seriously.¬† This den head happened to be the leader of my child’s den, and he used this situation as a personal attack at me, throwing in his own personal vendettas toward me that were unrelated to the issue at hand.¬† He also used these issues as his reasons to eject my family from the den, which has caused my son to be extremely hurt and betrayed.¬† Mind you, the man in question is an individual who asked me to serve as a den leader with him, and I did so for a period of one year, always maintaining professionalism and ethics in my interactions with him and everyone in the den and pack.¬† That he brought his own personal issues against me into the matter were unprofessional and unethical, including that he never informed me about such issues before the current issue at hand.

The pack leadership committee chairwoman then responded to me, also not taking my privacy and safety concerns seriously.¬† I asked her, in writing, on three occasions throughout a period of one week (seven days) to provide me with the name and contact information of the photographer.¬† She did not even know the man’s name or contact information!¬† No references were requested of this man; and no attempt to inform parents beforehand, nor provide any opt-out condition was offered!¬† It took¬†the pack¬†leadership committee chairwoman¬†all of those seven days to respond to me with the name of the photographer’s business.¬†

The same pack leadership committee chairwoman also explained to me by e-mail that only a few (four) of the leaders in the pack leadership committee had approved the professional photographer taking photos at the Pinewood Derby, and that it was a change that came about the night before the Derby when a scout mom said her camera was broken and she asked a friend to take the photos.  Supposedly, as was explained to me by e-mail, the professional photos were to be used to create a CD collage for an outgoing leader.  However, without anything in writing to parents in advance, there was no guarantee that this photographer from off the street could use those photos for anything that he desired Рas well as the scout mom whom he stated to me had hired him.

In order to inform the charter organization representative in these issues in an effort to gain a positive resolution in my son’s best interests to the matters, I also communicated with and contacted the parish clergy of the church that charters the pack.¬† I also took the opportunity to address the bullying which my son and other children have experienced within the pack and den – to the point of one child being physically hurt by another and whose family left the pack last year.¬† When I had informed the den leader¬†about it – as well as when I informed the chairwoman – nothing was done to stop or correct it.¬† So, this is yet another issue that is not taken seriously by pack leadership.¬†

When I received no responses from either of the charter organization representatives (priests), I contacted the district council representative, both by e-mail and by phone.  I spoke with him for about 20 minutes by phone, and he was supportive of me that I was a concerned enough parent to raise the issues of privacy and safety Рnot only for my child, but for all of the children Рto the pack leadership.  I stated to him, however, that the pack leadership did not see it that way.  Unfortunately, he also declined from being officially involved in the matter unless no resolution could be obtained with the pack leadership and church leadership that charters the pack.  Therefore, I contacted the church office in an effort to arrange a meeting between interested parties to obtain a positive resolution to these matters. 

On discovering that the head pastor was out of the country for two weeks, he had recently returned to the area, and two days following my phone request to arrange a meeting, he e-mailed everyone, providing his availability for a meeting, and stating that all other e-mail communications about the matter should cease, otherwise he would not be involved.  He further stated that it did not matter to him whether or not the Boy Scouts of America, Supreme Court, or some other international tribunal was involved in the matters.  I took that to say that he really did not desire to be involved, and that is also what I experienced at the meeting that was held.

In the midst of these matters, I also consulted and communicated with a great many people in scouting who are familiar with these types of issues, questions, and concerns.  From a couple of them, I received little to no support, however several others were very supportive, agreeing that I had a legitimate concern Рas I also believed Рfor the privacy and safety of my child and the other children Рand that particular policies regarding such a matter were not followed.  From one experienced and knowledgeable former scout employee, I obtained information providing that a unit photographer should have accompanied the professional photographer at the event; and that the entire leadership committee should have been involved in the decision about the professional photographer.

That same former scout employee contact also informed me that¬†neither the pack, nor the chartered organization have the authority to create contracts because they are not considered legal entities.¬† My question would also wonder why a scout mom could hire an outside professional photographer to come in and take photos of every scout and their siblings at a scouting event, without the parents’ advance notice and permission.¬† Another experienced scout executive further stated to me that while he believed that the photography was acceptable, parents should have been provided with an official Boy Scout form, stating whether or not they desired to have any type of photos taken of their child.¬† That was not done in regard to me and my family, nor to my knowledge with any other scout family in the pack.

It must also be noted that one day prior to the meeting, the chairwoman e-mailed parents and informed them that a photographer was present at the Derby, and that photos could be obtained from her of their child(ren).  That would not have occurred had I not expressed my concerns about privacy and safety for the children, and encouraged her to inform everyone.

Armed with all of this helpful information, I attended the meeting between the priest who was the chartered organization representative, the pack leadership committee chairwoman, and the den leader.  The parish priest absolutely grilled me about why I had a concern about privacy and safety of my child and the other children regarding the professional photographer.  Of course, I explained that I was not informed in advance, nor provided an opportunity to opt-out.  I further explained that when I see someone in the pack whom I have never before seen, and he is photographing my child and every other child, I have a legitimate concern. 

The words and conduct of the priest were entirely unethical and unprofessional, and he basically supported the lack of seriousness, ethics, and professionalism about this matter in the manner that it was handled by pack leadership.¬† At one point, the priest even laughed about the situation of informing us to take the issue to the Supreme Court or higher authority, and also told me that I should have “gone along” with the photography situation.

None of the other three individuals at the particular meeting took my concerns seriously, nor treated me with any respect whatsoever.  The behavior exhibited by all three was bullyish toward me and my family, and reflective of their own intolerance and lack of insight in the matter.  By far, the most offensive person toward me was the priest!  He negatively escalated the situation beyond repair, which I believe was his actual intention.  The anger, hatred, and misogyny that he directed at me was absolutely incredible!  He stated to me that my concerns were inappropriate and over the top, having caused people to become fearful of me; I said that I had a legitimate concern, and did not agree with his characterization of me or my concerns. 

When I stated that my family has been involved with that church parish for the past 12 years, having been faithful and contributing much, he had absolutely no appreciation for anything me or my family had done.¬† Last year, we¬† left membership of that parish and joined another parish affiliated with my child’s school; and the priest was quite adamant to point that out and throw it in my face.¬† I also stated, however, that we were still members of the parish when we joined the pack.¬† The priest¬†even had some piece of paper that he slid over the table to me, reflecting that we left the parish, and I slid it back at him.¬†

So, I stated to the priest, therefore, that he also had his own¬†personal issue with me because my family left that parish.¬† He then went on to inquire as to whether or not he and I had issues between each other in the past, and I replied that there were at least two.¬† I stated that regarding those two issues (that were of extremely high importance in relation to marriage and family healthcare issues), that he referred me to someone else or did not respond.¬† He, of course, did not recall the issues, and to me, it was apparent that he did not even believe they were important enough to remember.¬† There were also two occasions when I approached the parish in my financial need, and was turned away both times, being informed that the parish had no money to give, even though about $100,000 was provided to families in need during one particular year through the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul affiliation.

I also brought up the fact that, in the pack in which we were members prior to coming to our present pack, there were no types of issues of this nature at all – no privacy and safety issues, and no personal issues from pack leadership directed against us.¬† Last Spring, however, my son and me experienced a situation of a highly obscene and offensive nature from a scout mother in the pack – the same mother, by the way, who supposedly “hired” the professional photographer to take photos of all of the children at the Pinewood Derby.¬† I went through the appropriate channel of the pack leadership chairwoman regarding that issue, and stated that we were extremely offended, however that I did not desire the issue to be such that it created a negative situation for her or for us.¬†

Wouldn’t you know that, at the meeting to discuss my concerns about privacy and safety, that particular¬†issue arose by the chairwoman and den leader, saying that it was blown out of proportion!¬† My son and me were the victims in this matter of this scout mom who behaved in an outlandishly obscene and offensive manner toward us!¬† How sad, now, that they are protecting and supporting her – the offender of the situation – rather than us as those who experienced it.¬† In psychology, that is called victim-blaming.¬†¬†

All of this¬†was yet another reflection to me that neither the pack leadership, nor the church leadership share the appropriate and needed values that should be present within the pack and the church.¬† Understand me clearly, now, that these are the leaders of both of these organizations.¬† When I hoped for understanding and consideration, me and my family received nothing but insults, offenses, and lack of professionalism, ethics, and values on all fronts.¬† That both the den leader and the priest called me a liar when I presented my simple and legitimate concerns about children’s privacy and safety, and that the issue was used as personal vendettas and attacks on me and my family by pack and church leadership, was highly offensive and a complete affront to me, as someone who is always looking out for the best interests of my son and the children.¬†

To further the affronts, the den leader has unreasonably and irrationally threatened legal action toward me over this issue Рthe simple issue of desiring privacy and safety of children.  Is this what the Boy Scouts of America stands for and supports Рthreats and defamation of character that have absolutely no basis?  This situation is truly incredible, and has become unnecessarily unreasonable and traumatic for me and my family.

Therefore, I could see that, ultimately, the best positive resolution for me and my family related to these issues was to leave the pack.  Also, when I asked all present at the meeting for a promise that such a privacy/safety issue would not occur again in the future, no one responded, and therefore, I received no guarantee that this same type of thing would not occur again.  We had been members of the pack for about two years, always being faithfully involved and supportive, contributing much to the fundraisers as well as in officially volunteering for the pack, and in my son gaining much enjoyment, achievement, and socialization with other kids.  Currently, scouting has been his only extra-curricular activity, and as an only child, is something that, overall, he has truly enjoyed over most other types of activities. 

Additionally, at least I was able to locate the photographer’s name and business address, online, based on the business name that the pack chairwoman provided to me; and I both e-mailed and mailed my nonconsent for his use of his photos of my son taken at the Derby without my advance notice or permission.¬† I should not have had to go through all of what I did simply to ensure the safety and privacy of my son.¬† This situation would have never occurred had pack leadership informed parents in advance and provided the opportunity to opt-out.

Hopefully, we will find another pack in which we can experience peace, fairness, a safe environment, common sense, and courtesy.¬† If there is an¬†absence of locating such a group, I will be hesitant to remain involved with scouting at all if my legitimate concerns are going to be turned around against me and my family as personal attacks, making our experience¬†unnecessarily painful and detrimental.¬† I do not wish to be persecuted simply because my ethics, morals, values, standards, and expectations are higher than average.¬† We came to scouting for enjoyable experiences – mostly which we have had – however, I am not willing to subject my son and family to being hurt by folks who do not stand up for the right thing for children.¬† And, I’m not going to “go along” with what is wrong, and against my values and principles.¬† Those who go along with what is wrong and do not stand for what is right are not leaders to me, and such people blindly take an organization or institution astray due to their own dysfunctional conduct.

By the way, I informed the district council representative yesterday, briefly, by e-mail of what transpired in the meeting.  He personally responded to me by e-mail, stating that Boy Scouts of America is thankful for families such as mine, and is appreciative of my handling of the privacy and safety concern at hand.  He also wished us well, and offered his assistance in helping us locate and become involved with another pack that is basically more in line with our own values.

“Exciting Hockey of the Gwinnett Gladiators” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, October 2012

Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, October 2012

Each year for the past¬†several years, my family has enjoyed viewing at least one Gwinnett Gladiators hockey game during each regular season.¬† The Gwinnett Gladiators are a hockey team based in Duluth, Georgia, and that play at the Gwinnett Arena. This fall, in October, we were privileged to attend an October hockey game – much as we also did last season – when my son earned a free “Hat Trick for Reading” ticket for reading three on-grade level books.¬† The dentists that serve the hockey team sponsor the “Hat Trick for Reading” nights, and they are a real treat for us to come and enjoy exciting Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey!¬†

My Son Enjoying Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, October 2012

My Son Enjoying Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, October 2012

In the past, we have also attended a Gwinnett Gladiators hockey game with a pack of Cub Scouts to which my son belonged, while also enjoying a tour of the facility.¬† It was wonderful to get a “behind-the-scenes” look at the hockey rink, to view the players as they held a team practice session, personally receive a practice game hockey puck from one of the goalies, and sit in a Zamboni ice resurfacer.¬†

Me with my Son Sitting in a Zamboni on a Cub Scout Tour of Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, January 2011

Me with my Son Sitting in a Zamboni on a Cub Scout Tour of Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey, January 2011

Growing up in the “Snow Belt” near Buffalo, New York, I was an ardent fan of the Buffalo Sabres.¬† As a child, I would sometimes stay up late at night when I was supposed to be asleep, quietly listening to radio broadcasts of the games.¬† It was the broadcasters of the games who truly brought these matches to life, and infused in me a love of hockey that I now share with my own son.¬†

Maximus the Lion, Mascot of the Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey Team, October 2012

Maximus the Lion, Mascot of the Gwinnett Gladiators Hockey Team, October 2012

Attending hockey games of the Gwinnett Gladiators is always exciting and enjoyable.¬† It is also a special treat if the television cameras capture my son waving his pennant in enthusiastic support of the team, and when we have the chance to meet the team’s mascot, Maximus.¬† Going to see a Gwinnett Gladiators hockey game is always affordable and enjoyable for the whole family.