Thank you for the opportunity to share my Girl Scout Story, which happens to be a big part of my life. Girl Scouts, especially selling Girl Scout Cookies, allowed me to think that I was good in sales. I started selling Girl Scout Cookies in the 60’s and I sold the most cookies every year I was in it as a child and student at Holman School in Stuttgart, Arkansas. So from a Brownie to a Cadette, I sold cookies in and around my neighborhood. All the people bought cookies from me: healthy and sick.
My parents struggled and saved to provide for all of us six children, but it helped that we were spaced out, except for the twins, because they managed to save money for each child’s endeavors. My parents saved to get my Girl Scout uniform which had to be ordered through the J.C. Penney Catalog and picked up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I remember the sales clerk saying, “You better try in on this little chubby girl because you can’t bring it back after it is worn.” I resented being called ‘chubby’ but that was what the size was ‘Chubby 10.’ They ordered the whole Brownie outfit: hat, socks with tassels, dress with bigger belt, orange cross tie, all of the numbers, and they found some brown two-tone oxfords. I was cute. My daddy only got to see me in the whole uniform twice: once when the school had an assembly to introduce the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and 4-H. I was in 4-H also; and another time when we attended a Girl Scout/Boy Scout Jamboree at Barton Coliseum. My dad died over the summer between my third and fourth grades. I had to exercise to stay in the Brownie uniform. When I went to the next level, I just got a sash and the skirt. My grandmother had to make me a white blouse.
Our troop did a lot of crafts and other outdoor things together. There were racial challenges in the Arkansas County town and surrounding areas, but when we went to the Jamboree in Little Rock, the adults (black and white) decided to work a little closer together. I remember going to one of the historical sites in Arkansas County and we could not eat in the restaurant. Our troop leaders went to the local store and purchased crackers, lunch meat, chips, and can drinks. We ate outside around our school bus and enjoyed it. It didn’t matter that we had Girl Scout uniforms on.
To keep our troop going after the first teacher moved, a lady, (I don’t remember her name,but I’ll call her Mrs. GS) which would probably have been a service unit director, would meet with our troop. We did a lot of strange things for us, but we enjoyed the things we did. By sixth grade, I was going to be a Cadette and she convinced my mother to purchase the new Cadette uniform for me and she. In order to afford the new uniform, my mother, my sisters, my brother, and other family members sold cupcakes to raise the money. Mrs. GS, my mother, my little brother, and I got the uniform from Little Rock. I even got white gloves. They didn’t have a beret to fit my head, so my grandmother and aunt attempted to make me one. It was cool. Mrs. GS convinced the school officials to recognize my promotion during the school promotions assembly. I was the highest level Girl Scout and the highest level Boy Scout brought the flags into the assembly. The band played and all of the honorees were on the platform. I don’t remember what all happened until Mrs. GS called my name and she and my mother started putting pins and badges on my sash. After every description of the pin or badge the crowd cheered. My mother was self-conscious because she said her dress was too short to be out front like that. It was the Sixties.
After that year, Mrs. GS died. My heart sunk and the other troops in Stuttgart ‘said’ we could join them, but they were not very welcoming. We went to two meetings and decided that was it. No other adults wanted to continue so our troop was over. I wish I had known that my mother and I could have continued ourselves, but we didn’t know. I only found out we could have continued when my sister, Bobbie, taught in DeWitt, Arkansas, and a senior got an award, maybe a Gold Award, upon graduating. By eighth grade, my mother was doing other things and I was involved in other activities at Stuttgart Junior High School. Ninth grade to twelfth grades, I did not see a Girl Scout Cookie.
When I went to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), I walked past a church to catch the city bus to the shopping center and I saw they were in their Girl Scout uniforms doing a craft. This was my freshman year in college. The leader (I am not good at remembering some names from the past, so I will call her Mrs. PH for Pine Hill Missionary Baptist Church) talked to me while I waited for the bus. I told her I use to be in Girl Scouts and I sold the most cookies when I was in it. I must have bragged a little too much because she invited me to come to their meetings and help out. Wow! That year, according to the leader, they sold the most cookies ever. I sold cookies on the campus of UAPB and that troop had enough money to take a big trip; I could not go, but I did go with them on a small trip to the place my troop had gone to when I was a young Girl Scout. I told Mrs. PH we would need to take our own food. So we made sandwiches and got everything to go along with them. When the two (2) vans of Girl Scouts arrived at the place in Arkansas County, we were welcomed for the tour. When it was time for lunch, we ate outside around the vans. The restaurant manager came out and invited us to come inside; huh? He fixed cool-aid and a dessert for us for free. I was blown over and wrong about the attitudes of the people. I work with that troop for a short period of time because after my second year I had an evening class and I could not attend the meetings, but I did help with a float for the Christmas Parade.
Fast forwarding to my first year of graduate school and an office job at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Sue Wallace worked in the Admissions Office and her daughters were in Girl Scouts at St. Mark Baptist Church. Again, I bragged about my cookie-selling skills and she got me, but good. I took cookie orders on behalf of her and her daughters. When the cookies arrived, I could not get all of them into my Mustang. For years I sold for them.
Then a Girl Scout Troop was formed at St. John Missionary Baptist Church where I attended and still do. They said they got tired of me selling cookies for others and they wanted to see what I could do for the new Troop. By the time Girl Scouts came to St. John, I had daughters Felicia and Cecily, (plus baby boy, Andrew) but Cecily was only four and not old enough to be a Daisy and Felicia lived in another location. That did not matter because I was told that I was going to sell for St. John’s Troop 117. We sold a lot of cookies. Once Cecily became a full Girl Scout, she embraced the program, but not like me. We camped and traveled as Girl Scouts. People (my family) said I tried to live my life through my daughter’s experience in Girl Scouts. Cecily was the first Girl Scout to sell 2,000 boxes of cookies in the Ouachita Council. Her picture and name were in the newspaper along with the Gold Award Girl Scouts. She was in the ninth or tenth grade. I tried to force her to do her Gold Award, but she did not want to and my husband opposed me forcing her. My daughter and I are both Life Members of Girl Scouts. Cecily got a scholarship from the department chair of her area of study just by being in Girl Scouts for so long.
I spent twelve years as an assistant Girl Scout Leader with Troop 117 at St. John. I have been Troop Leader for fourteen years of Troop 117 now Troop 6117; I have been the Pocahontas Service Unit Director for eight years; I have been a Diamonds Council Trainer for ten years (and two years with Ouachita Council as a trainer). I would like to continue working with Girl Scouts to increase the membership in the urban areas all over the state. Girls are missing out on the experiences of participating in Girl Scouting. There are still valuable skills that girls can learn to carry them throughout their lives. I hope Girl Scouts will continue in the future. I will remain with Girl Scouts as long as I am allowed.
I have and am having an amazing journey with Girl Scouts. I love it!