Photo by Flavia Potenza
Eagle Scouts and dads of Eagle Scouts gathered at the Topanga Post Office to rededicate the new plaque honoring Topangaâs Eagle Scouts. (From left) Ryan Anderson, nephew of Jerry Anderson; Steve Popper, whose son, Alex is an Eagle Scout; Jerry Anderson (1955, Troop 20); Eric Scheweitzer (in Scout uniform) provided a photo of the original plaque that Dannenbaum used to identify original names; Postmaster Mabel Christie; Ken Wheeland; (back) Gary Dannenbaum; Neil Shaw.
On Tuesday, November 9, a group of Eagle Scouts and Eagle Scout dads showed up at the Topanga post office to view and rededicate the replacement plaque honoring Topangaâs Eagle Scouts and share some memories.
Gary Dannenbaum spearheaded the idea of replacing the plaque. It took him most of the summer until now to complete the project and, like the camaraderie of those scouting days, the community stepped up.
âWe all started in Cub Scouts when the kids were in elementary school,â said Dannenbaum, âthen we bridged over to Boy Scouts. It was a great way for fathers and sons and the families to gather together. Everyone chipped in, we camped together, worked on badges. That doesnât happen in a vacuum and the plaque was part of all that. The recognition of a well-earned rank for these kids? I wasnât going to let that go. I was very proud of my son.â
Jerry Anderson, whose name is the first on the plaque (Troop 20, 1955) said, âSeeing the Eagle plaque returned to the wall of the Post Office was a good day for me. Meeting all the enthusiastic Topanga folks was great.â
Asked what it was like to complete Eagle rank, Anderson wrote: âI was a Life Scout needing only one merit badge to achieve the rank. I got a job as a camp counselor at Camp Emerald Bay the summer of 1955. During that summer I finally completed the LifeSaving Merit badge and received my Eagle award in the Fall of 1955. It felt good! The Eagle rank also allowed this Topanga boy to spend two more summers on Catalina Island at Emerald Bay from June through the end of August.â
It was a surprise when the Topanga Historical Societyâs archivist, Pablo Capra found articles with pictures of two Topanga scouts who earned their ranks, Leonard Vincent as Star Scout in 1951, and Don Upham as Eagle Scout in 1961.
The Topanga Journal (Friday, May 11, 1951) reported, âLeonard Vincent was presented with a miniature Star Scout pin by Assistant Scoutmaster Bob WileyâŚ, which Vincent in turn presented to his mother.â
âDon Upham, 15, of Troop 20 of the Crescent Bay Council, Boy Scouts of America, became the first Topanga Scout to gain the coveted rank of Eagle Scout in ten years.â (Topanga Journal and Malibu Monitor, October 19, 1961).
âI knew both Leonard, who was in troop 20 with me and a couple of years older, and Don Upham, who was 10 years behind us,â Anderson told the Chronicle. âI know Don Upham achieved Eagle and should be added to the plaque. Iâm not sure about Vincent.â
âTraditionally, itâs been up to the parents or family of the scout to have the name plate made for the plaque,â Dannenbaum said.
There is room on the second plaque to add new Topanga Eagle Scouts. If thereâs agreement among those who contributed to the project, perhaps Don Uphamâs name could be added. To engrave a name plate: The Trophy Shoppe is located at 22557 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364; (818) 225-1414; firstname.lastname@example.org; whtrophy.com.