Henry Palmer Melton was born in Houston on May 15, 1902. He joined Troop 11 in the 1915 at the age of 13. He was described as a manly little fellow of 13 summers, clear-cut features, cheeks that dimple when he smiles and eyes that brimful of life. Within four months of joining Scouts he made Tenderfoot and finished his Second Class examination on July 17.
After a period of 60 days he told his Scoutmaster, J. Dixie Smith, he was ready to take tests on First Class work. On September 6 he passed the exam with a grade of 100. He continued on with work on merit badges and completed swimming, public health, personal health, craftsmanship and art. He completed all of these in four months and despite his physical handicap.
On February 11, 1915, while on the way to Sunday school, he was hit by a train and his left ankle was so badly crushed that amputation was necessary. His left foot was amputated above the ankle. He was fitted with an artificial limb and if you were not told, you would never know it. In the days before political correctness, he was called by his friends, “Peg”.
In 1916 at the age of 14, Palmer Melton was awarded the first Eagle Scout Award ever given in the Sam Houston Area Council.
In a 1960 article in the Houston Press celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Scouting, Paul Hochuli wrote about his good friend from Scouts. He said: “Peg was a natural woodsman, a clean living kid, an ideal Scout, and it is fitting that he became the first Eagle Scout in our town. He was an expert with rifle or shotgun, you couldn’t lose him in woods or prairie.”
He apparently had a great sense of humor as well. Hochuli shared a story from their youth. They were playing in a sandlot football game where his team needed to get a new player in the game. He fell to the ground holding his leg only to have the referee walk up to him and kick him on his artificial leg and say, “Peg, you are holding the wrong leg.”
As a continuing example of his Scout Spirit, after high school he enrolled at what was then called the Rice Institute, Rice University today. He played on the Owls baseball team as a pitcher for four years and was the captain of the team in 1923. He once pitched a double header victory over the Aggies. He received his degree in 1924.
He enjoyed the outdoors and continued hunting and shooting. He regularly competed in skeet shooting and won the Texas State Skeet Shooting Championship in 1932 and 1934. In 1932 he was tied with two other shooters at the end of the competition. He then hit 50 straight targets to win the event. He was chosen for the 1938 United States Olympic Skeet Team. Due to the issues with the Second World War, he never competed.
In 1941 Palmer Melton was named President of the R Association, an organization of Rice Owl athletes who had lettered in their sport. He was inducted into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame and in 1973 received the Distinguished R Man Award.
After Rice, Palmer Melton married and raised a family. He had 4 children with his wife. He became a successful oil jobber (selling oil related products) with a franchise from Bud Adam’s father. For those of you who don’t know this, Bud Adams was the owner of what was first the Houston Oilers and is today the Tennessee Titans.
In 1941, Palmer Melton continued his involvement with Scouting when he became the new Scout Commissioner for Troop 10, Pack 10 and Scout Ship No. 10 and was sponsored by one of the city’s oldest churches, Trinity Episcopal Church.