Oscar Raines used to come out to Camp Shawnee there on Dewey Lake in Floyd County back in the ‘60s, when the camp belonged to The Boy Scouts of America and I was a college student living in a little cabin there near Heaven from early May until the end of August.

My job was to get the camp set up for a huge influx of weeklong, camping, Scout troops who paid relatively high dollar to show up through June and July to spend time earning merit badges and fighting industrial grade mosquitoes, copperheads and arguably the most potent poison ivy on the planet.

The camp premises covered several hundred acres of pristine mountainside forest and 100 or so acres of big flat tracts of lakeside bottom land. We littered a mountaintop with semi-primitive camp sites — had a big “lodge” for three cafeteria meals a day and special areas for everybody-shows-up-or-else campfires.

We had the typical rifle and archery ranges, a waterfront with canoes and swimming, and even little art rooms where sissies worked all week to make a vest and matching moccasins.

Camp normally ran for six of the 16 to 20 weeks I spent at the place, at which time it accommodated like 250 campers a week and basically operated as organized mayhem.

Actually, that is being kind. Not much was organized around the mayhem except that meals were fixed and served on time. Show up late for breakfast and we’d teach you how a good Scout finds slugs under the forest floor for breakfast. In fact, as I recall, that scored big points on a certain merit badge if said good Scout actually ingested the worms hand-held them down.

And they probably tasted as good as the scrambled eggs served in the lodge at breakfast.

But, here I am off on another tangent. The original one being Oscar Raines.

One year, we received a huge set of bell-shaped loudspeakers from an Army base, a tube amplifier and a turntable from the military surplus people. I mounted the speakers, which weighed about 100 pounds each, atop the lodge aimed them in the general directions of the campus, got all the wiring hooked up and tested the system out.

It was after dark, but I put a 45 rpm of the U.S. Marine Corps Bands’ version of “Revile” on the turntable and turned up the amp full blast.

I’m told that people in Williamson, W.Va., 45 miles from Camp Shawnee still claim to this day that they got religion that night. They still claim that Gabriel was blowing his horn.

Suffice to say that the hills were alive with sound if it was not exactly music.

Sometime around midnight on that fateful night after I had turned the knobs down to less than one of a scale of one to 20 to broadcast “Taps” at a proper volume, a pickup pulled up in front of my cabin and the owner sat down on his horn.

“This is Oscar Raines,” the owner yelled, “and this noise is killing every dog in the country.”

“What the hell do you want?” I yelled back like a good Scout does.

“I’m a fox hunter and I need to turn my dogs loose if you are tired of playing the national anthem.” I swear those were his very words. (For the record, the closest thing I played to the national anthem was “Taps,” but I did have a bugle recording of “Charge” and you could hear it echoing for at least a minute up and down the Big Sandy River Valley after you lifted the needle off the play disc. Pretty cool to this day as far as I’m concerned. In fact, it would be on my top 10 list of things I’d like to do one more time before I die — if the sound system was still there.

Turned out that Oscar just liked to sit back and listen to his dogs run and we did that many a night on the shores of Camp Shawnee on Dewey Lake over the next four years before and after the campers took over “the fox run,” as Oscar came to called Camp Shawnee.

Last weekend, with time on my hands during a business trip to the borderline, I tried to find Oscar’s house there near Blaine in Lawrence County where the mountains’ rugged shoulders start to separate Kentucky from West Virginia.

I finally found a little country store out near Yatesville Lake with three old men sitting on the porch, shooting the bull and enjoying some plug tobacco chew.

“Old Oscar Raines,” one of them responded to my inquiry. “He died out about 20 years ago, but he sure raised some mighty fine foxhounds in his time.”

Nods all around. “Yep, I thought to myself when I drove past the entrance to Dewey Lake half an hour later. “He surely did.”

“But, not a one of them ever had any appreciation for a bugler or for The Marine Corps Brass Band.”

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