I was 15 years old when I went to the ’85 National Jamboree. Already a bit of a trader, I was carrying my swapping stock in a small black suitcase that I’d stuck a sheet of Jambo stickers on. Shortly after the Jamboree began, I remember seeing guys walking around with these cool grey shoulder bags filled with their patches. There was just something about them, they seemed the perfect way to tote around your stuff. Much to my surprise, I found out that one could be had for FREE up near the Merit Badge Midway. Apple Computers was running a program at the Jambo and the bags were the give away item for going through it.
Next morning bright and early, I caught the bus headed that way, all geared up to get MY bag. When I found the spot, there was already a queue of Scouts a mile long. Apparently you had to stand in the line to go through the program, then stand in another line to get the bag. The word was, it took most of the day to get the job done. I had the trading fever bad, I just couldn’t imagine taking a whole day off from going to events and swapping to get a stupid bag. I fancied myself a pretty good trader so I thought to myself “Heck with this, I’ll just trade for one!”
That didn’t work out too well, I headed home from the Jamboree without the magical “Apple Bag” in my possession. Years passed, and I still wanted one. You’d think somebody who was a “professional trader” could find anything, but I never saw one available for sale or trade. A couple years ago I had just set up at the Great Lakes Trade-O-Ree and a guy came walking in with one over his shoulder. This wasn’t too unusual, I know several guys who still use one for carrying patches. But when he started talking I realized that he was “selling out” and wanted to get rid of everything he had. I beat feet over to his table and asked about the bag. Was it for sale? He said sure, make him an offer. A couple minutes later my wallet was $20 bucks lighter and I finally had one! It only took 27 years….
It’s funny that the bags have become so iconic to the event. When you ask anybody who went what they most remember, nearly everybody will say “Those Apple Bags!” or maybe how hard it was to trade for a Malibu flap.
I’ll add to the story a bit with the tale of another piece of memorabilia from the event. This was the Jamboree of Hurricane Bob, and all the guys who went remember that first and foremost. Torrential rain storm soaking everything we owned, gale force winds knocking down every tent in camp, a tough time even for tough Scouts.
A couple days after the storm passed through, I ran into a guy walking around passing out flyers to order a “Hurricane Survivor” patch. Just a hand draw xerox showing what the patch would look like and an address to send your money to. I took one and stuffed it into my trading case but somehow never made it home with the paper. One of the first things I did when I unpacked was look for that order form. Nothing, wasn’t in my gear, must have gotten lost. Argh!
Same as the bag, the years passed by and I never saw one, the exact same amount of years oddly enough. Once I had the bag I knew I wanted to decorate it up with some patches. I’d saved a big “non official” ’85 Jambo jacket patch forever to sew on the front, I had a North Central Region patch, and one of our Egyptian Council CSP’s with my Jambo Troop numbers still attached. But I wanted that Hurricane patch bad, it would just “make’ the bag as far as I was concerned. I asked around amongst friends who went, other collectors, posted about it on the Facebook forum even. Nothing, a few guys had one (not many) but nobody had a dupe. What was even more funny was that there was a ton of us looking, guys who’d gone to the event and had never scored one either. Seemed like they were rare as hen’s teeth! Then shortly after I got “the bag” an envelope came in the mail from a friend. Much to my surprise there it was, the long awaited “Hurricane Survivor” patch.
So that’s the story of the famous Apple Bag as far as my personal experience. It makes me smile every time I throw it over my shoulder, brings a little youthful spring into my aging steps for sure.
Destry L. Hoffard
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I Buy/Sell Boy Scout Memorabilia
I have been an active Boy Scout collector for more than twenty-five years. I’ve been buying and selling patches on eBay since 1998. If you have a Boy Scout memorabilia collection you are interested in parting with please contact me...
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