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Emails to my Therapist

Hip Baths for Quelling the Urge

It’s enough to make one question authority, what the Boy Scout handbook of 1942 advised young fellows to do about their “urges.”

If a boy were to be troubled by bad desires he should, the guidebook said, take cold showers, long walks, or — here’s the slightly unsettling surprise — “hip baths.”

I ran across this advice in Dan Wakefield’s World War 2 home front novel Under the Apple Tree. (I was a Girl Scout a few years later and don’t recall urges or hip baths on the agenda.)

Artie, the main character in the story, had been caught committing the sin of “sneaking away from a Bird Study Hike to whack off in full daylight in a cabin of Camp Cho-Ko-Mo-Ko, B.S.A.”

The camp’s Chief reminded the frightened and embarrassed boy of the Conservation section of the Health and Safety chapter of the the guide. Artie remembered, “…The boy beset with lust sat in a tub of lukewarm water with his behind and his gonads soaking in the water and his legs hanging out over the edge.”

The prospect of being caught in such a situation was almost as alarming as being caught masturbating.

“And you’ve also read the part of the Bible, about how it’s wrong to ‘spill your seed’?” Pops continued.

Artie not only remembered; he knew that the biblical warning was more specific. He was not to spill his seed “on the ground,” which did not speak to use of blankets or sleeping bags.

“For your own sake,” the Chief went on, “…you should save yourself for when you get married.”

Artie figured it would be at least nine years he’d have to wait.


As pranks pulled on campers go, this one’s pretty brutal. But no prank. And it wasn’t so very long ago.

Such info does make me question authority, particularly if it’s someone’s interpretation of what “the Lord intends” for me.

I wonder what damaging advice may be floating around now that I may be following and passing on, about sex, God, or anything else.

Dan Wakefield, author and former Scout

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  • November 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm Reply

    Hip baths??? Hilarious. And I suspect – ineffectual.

    • Peggy Payne
      November 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm Reply

      Perhaps we’ll receive comments about how effective they were or weren’t, kenju. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

  • Bob Braxton
    November 11, 2015 at 3:04 pm Reply

    Two weeks ago Beth received total joint (hip) replacement surgery at 10:00 am this moment. Now she is bionic, left hip. No soaking bath, but a few showers permitted in the interim. As far as whacking off at scout camp, Rev. Jerry Judd told of a little boy whose “mother” told him not to master bate or he would go blind and the boy replied (asked), “but can I do it only until I need glasses?”

    • Peggy Payne
      November 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm Reply

      He told this from the pulpit, Bob? Best wishes to Bionic Beth.

  • November 11, 2015 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Anything Dan’s written would be well worth reading ! I didn’t remember the first part of the song, but the refrain was quite familiar. Great to hear those wartime voices again. And Happy Veterans Day to all who’ve served, including your and my dad. Dr Bob

    • Peggy Payne
      November 12, 2015 at 11:37 pm Reply

      Thanks, Dr. Bob!

  • November 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm Reply

    Oh god! This is terrible. I can’t imagine. At least we’ve come a little ways from that. I hope…

    • Peggy Payne
      November 23, 2015 at 4:17 pm Reply

      I trust most folks have, Beth. And I suspect there are some hold-outs.

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