The year that Juliette Gordon Lowe held the first meeting of Girl Scouts in Savannah, my mother was born in a small coal-mining town in northwestern Pennsylvania. Her mother passed away when she was barely a year old and her father attempted to care for her alone for a few years. He joined the Army in 1917, leaving Mother to the care of maiden aunts. Of course, Girl Scouts were not a household name, especially in the hills of Pennsylvania then.
Having taught school for a number of years before marriage and giving birth to me, she had an ample background for working with children, so that when it was time for me to consider joining a Brownie troop in Ridgway, PA, there was no question that she would also become involved. And so began another career for her, first as leader, then Troop Service Director, Trainer and Council President. She was the leader of my Intermediate Troop of eight classmates, all of whom became candidates for Curved Bar awards. The local Judge in our community also served on the Council and was actively recruited each year to sit on the Board of Review for the higher awards.
After graduation from high school, I became a leader myself and continued assisting with various programs in the community. Mother remained in various roles until health issues forced her to retire. My father, as well, became an honorary Girl Scout and was instrumental in establishing Curry Creek Camp for the DuBois and Ridgway councils. One of our dearest friends was Frances Hesselbein, who later became President of GSA. I spent several summers at camp at Imler where Mrs. Hessselbein was in charge.
Coincidentally, in recently assessing our household inventory for disbursement, we have discovered several mementos of our Girl Scout days. My badge sash is still in the same condition as when packed away more than 60 years ago; the bronze Girl Scout statuette presented as a thank you gift to Mother in 1955 needs minor repairs, but is still a sight to behold. Regrettably, we are unable to locate my original Curved Bar pin and several other high school awards that were special keepsakes.
Moving ahead several years, and six children later, I was recruited to be a Den Mother for our eldest son’s Pack. The following year, our older daughter wanted to become a Brownie, but there was no troop available in Owings Mills, MD. The TSD encouraged a meeting of parents to see if there was interest in starting a troop, so with the cooperation of the elementary school principal, a meeting was
held. Forty young ladies and their parents attended. After some deliberation, the Baltimore Council agreed to a trial situation whereby a troop of that size could be formed. Several other mothers and myself organized smaller groups within the troop and held meetings every week for several years. When it was time for the Brownies to cross the Bridge, a few other troops had organized and I became TSD and Trainer, serving for a few more years in those capacities.
Unfortunately, our daughters preferred musical endeavors and sports activities so their interest in Scouting waned, and likewise, my own time was limited to supporting their alternatives as well as their brothers’ interests. It was during the next few years that our family moved to a number of different locations following their father’s career, and any long-term affiliations were very limited.
And so, Boy and Girl Scout equipment and memorabilia were packed away.
A few years ago, a very pleasant surprise was received from one of my former childhood Troop Members. She made a donation in my mother’s name to GSA. Last year, when that friend passed away, several of the other ladies from that troop determined that a memorial in our friend’s name would be most appropriate. Therefore, my address and e-mail has been reactivated in your files. I
am grateful for this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation for all that Girl Scouting provided for me, commencing when I was just seven years old, and continuing through teen years, young adulthood and motherhood. As an octogenarian, Girl Scouts are still very important to me, and all the Cookies in the world would never be enough to recall special memories provided through my membership in the organization.