“Bill,” he was it, the Scientific American Boy, I mean. Of course, we were all American boys and pretty scientific chaps too, if I do say it myself, but Bill, well he was the whole show. What he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing, so we all thought, and even to this day I sometimes wonder how he managed to contrive and execute so many remarkable plans. At the same time he was not a conceited sort of a chap and didn’t seem to realize that he was head and shoulders above the rest of us in ingenuity. But, of course, we didn’t all have an uncle like Bill did. Bill’s Uncle Ed was one of those rare men who take a great interest in boys and their affairs, a man who took time to answer every question put to him, explaining everything completely and yet so clearly that you caught on at once. Uncle Ed (we all called him that) was a civil engineer of very high standing in his profession, which had taken him pretty much all over the world, and his naturally inquisitive nature, coupled with a wonderful memory, had made him a veritable walking encyclopedia. With such an uncle it is no wonder that Bill knew everything. Of course, there were some things that puzzled even Bill. But all such difficulties, after a reasonable amount of brain-work had failed to clear them, were submitted to Uncle Ed. Uncle Ed was always prompt (that was one thing we liked about him), and no matter where he was or what he was doing he would drop everything to answer a letter from the society.
The Old Trunk.
But hold on, I am getting ahead of my story. I was rummaging through the attic the other day, and came across an old battered trunk, one that I used when I went to boarding-school down in south Jersey. That trunk was certainly a curiosity shop. It contained a miscellaneous assortment of glass tubes, brass rods, coils of wire, tools, fish hooks—in fact, it was a typical collection of all those “valuables” that a boy is liable to pick up. Down in one corner of the trunk was a black walnut box, marked, with brass letters, “Property of the S. S. I. E. E. of W. C. I.” On my key-ring I still carried the key to that box, which had not been opened for years. I unlocked the box and brought to light the “Records and Chronicles of the Society for the Scientific Investigation, Exploration and Exploitation of Willow Clump Island.” For hours I pored over those pages, carried back to the good old times we used to have as boys along the banks of the Delaware River, until I was brought sharply back to the present by the sound of the dinner bell. It seemed that the matter contained in those “Chronicles” was too good to be kept locked up in an old trunk. Few boys’ clubs ever had such a president as Bill, or such a wonderful bureau of information as Uncle Ed. For the benefit of boys and boykind in general, I decided then and there to publish, as fully as practicable, a record of what our society did.