O.J. "Jump" Solaas
Guess every story has to have a beginning, and us guys owe quite a bit to the guy pictured above, here.
That's my Dad, and he had a whole lot to do with Joe, Steve, and I getting all the way through Scouting and getting
our Eagle Scout ranks, (and he REALLY had his work cut out for him!) along with starting us down the
road to playing guitar, loving music, and learning how to say 'Yes SIR!' even when it wasn't fashionable.
Dad was a Cowboy, through and Through. He rode on cattle drives with his Dad and brothers, out in the Black Hills
of South Dakota.
His dad used the farm to do many things, like raise pigs, raise cattle, and even break horses.
Dad learned to do a lot of things out on the ranch.
In the way out back, where Dad lived, kids in 1st-6th grade went to school in a 1-room schoolhouse. When you passed
into the 7th grade, you went off to a Boarding School, since travel to and from school was too far.
According to him, somewhere around the 9th grade a couple buddies
of his talked him into sneaking into the girls dorms at their Boarding School and letting cats out of gunny sacks
in the girls bedrooms, while the girls were off at an evening function.
Needless to say, they lost track of the time, the girls came back early, and my dad's buddies fled out the window while
he dived under a bed and was caught. He refused to reveal who was with him in the endeavor and so got expelled.
His dad would have really worn his backside out over it, so he decided to jump a train and see where it went. It was
going West, and Dad didn't return home for about 5 years.
When dad was 16-17, he married a girl named Alice and had 5 children, the eldest named Larry, living now in Sweden.
About the time 1941 and World War II broke out, my dad was 22, and upped into the
Army. He was told that the pay was better for a Paratrooper, so he joined the 101st Airborne as a Paratrooper.
He was then told that the Pathfinders got even better pay (it was hazard pay, I guess) so he joined the Pathfinders
and parachuted several times behind enemy lines in the Pacific.
Dad was making these decisions to send a larger stipend home to help Alice cover the cost of feeding the kids.
After seeing 'Saving Private Ryan' and reading up on the atrocities of World War II, I got a glimpse of the heroes
we take for granted that lived in that generation. Those guys went willingly to war, some even walking in snow drifts for
over 15 miles, in order to stand in line half the day outside the recruitment office.
Those men were willing to take part in something much bigger than themselves, throwing themselves wholeheartedly 'at it',
realizing full well that many of them wouldn't be coming back.
My dad told me that in those days, out west where he was from, many men couldn't sign their names. I asked how they
could sign a contract. He said that a contract wasn't necessary - your WORD was as good and as binding as a bonafide
certified 4-copy contract, signed by witnesses, notarized, and stored at the bank.
Because trust was precious. It takes a long time to build it, and a short time to lose it. My grandfather would load
a wagon up with grain, flour, feed, salted meat, and supplies, and tell the grocer 'I'll pay you when the cattle
come to market.' That would be 6 months later, and he was as good as his word. And the grocer would just nod and wave.
Like many men that went off to war, when Dad got home from war, he realized he didn't really know the woman he'd married.
Don't really know what went wrong, but there was a divorce, and Dad just moved on with the military.
My dad worked his way up the non-commissioned officer ranks in the army all the way to Master Sergeant. Shortly before
the Korean War, he stepped away from military life and wandered down to the Memphis area and met my Mom.
The 'By Gosh DAD' of this here outfit!
Dad and Mom raised us on a clear definition of right and wrong. Right got a nod and a smile, sometimes an honest
handshake. Wrong got swift retribution, a sore bottom, and the rapid desire to never go THERE again.
In keeping with the desire to instill proper values and lifelong principles in us, Dad got all four of us (Joe, Steve, Anna,
and me) involved in Scouting.
Anna, being our sister, was enrolled in the Girl Scouts. Joe, Steve, and I were brought into the Boy Scouts.
Mom was heavily involved in the GSA Troop with Anna. I was a tag-along, being too young at the time for even Cub Scouts.
Size Nines and Eagle Scouts
When I got big enough for Boy Scouts (having survived Cub Scouts with the help of my Mom, who was my Den Leader, and
a man named Phil Gilmer, who was my Webelos Leader) my
Dad took me up to the Troop to see what scouting with the Big Boys was like. Unfortunately, my mouth had gotten bigger too,
so I mouthed off at a few of those big scouts, being reasonably near my Paratrooper Dad for protection.
Later that evening when Dad was elsewhere teaching a class, one of the boys got me aside and said, 'When you come into
the troop next week I'm gonna knock you into next year.'
That week I typed up a 'letter of resignation', put it in an envelope, and stuffed it into my cub uniform. When we
came to the meeting that night, they had a bridge there for the Webelos to walk across to 'join' the Troop. When it
came to my turn, I walked across the bridge, handed the Scoutmaster my letter, and walked back across.
The room got deathly quiet. The Scoutmaster stood opening the letter, and my Dad hollered, 'Son, what the hxxx is THIS?'
I pointed at the young man who was going to turn me into goo and said 'Uh, it's my letter of -' (But that's as far as I
got because my Dad hollered over me 'Son you get yer axxx back across that bridge before I knock you across.')
Dad could make a grown man get moving, so little old me just up and flew across the bridge. Later that evening my mouth got
what was coming to it, and the young man got chewed out until they found out I had been teasing him.
All this to say that if it hadn't been for my Dad's size 9's and a whole lot of prayer from Mom, I probably wouldn't
have made it to Eagle (or to age 18 either!)
Sometimes we don't give our parents enough credit for the blood, sweat, tears, and grey hairs that they donated just
to see us jump out of the nest on a 'first flight'.
But I wanted to take a moment to thank (posthumously) the man who made sure all his boys made it into life with
some semblance of right and wrong, and a 'by gosh Eagle Scout Rank'.
©2006 Christopher M. Solaas - All Rights Reserved