This past week has involved the conclusion of my job as a visiting scholar, saying my goodbyes, running a 10K, swelling with pride as our son played in a professional symphony for an Independence Day concert, packing up the house and moving from beautiful North Dakota back to my home in Illinois (a two-day drive with animals), unpacking, celebrating the birthday of that same son (now officially a teenager!), and then readying for my husband’s birthday. Honestly, there was no time for a blog involving historical research. I’ll pick up the story of Arthur Ryerson next week, but I beg your indulgence as I take a short cut and write about me.
People ask me why I chose to write a book about Juliette Gordon Low. My fascination with her began when I was a Brownie, in Bridgeport, Michigan. I had a terrific Brownie leader there who taught us about our founder. I remember thinking about Daisy Low being deaf, or nearly deaf, and wondering what that would be like. I learned the sign language alphabet. But most of all, I just loved my experience in Brownies. I was so excited to be that girl on the right, below, entering the charmed circle.
I loved my Brownie handbook. (The first photo is my name written on the inside cover.) I recall how proud I was to have a clear, plastic cover for it.
I loved the story of the brownies and I was enamored of the artwork on the inside of the handbook. The drawings were simply magical to me.
I saved my Brownie uniform…but not, apparently, all of it. I found it in all the packing and unpacking:
I kept my belt, tie, socks, and even my fabulous little purse that slipped oh-so-cleverly on the belt:
I cannot explain why the pins are no longer attached to the uniform.
I can put my hands on some of the pins from my Girl Scouting days, but not all of them.
And I am 99% certain that the pin on the far left was my mother’s. She, too, was a Girl Scout. I also have her uniform…somewhere, and I have an old pair of Girl Scout bookends that were hers. She kept her handbooks, her Cherry Ames books, and her Nancy Drew books between those bookends. I wanted desperately to be a Girl Scout, even though my uniform looked not like my mother’s, but like this:
I still have my uniform, my yellow tie, my belt and sash…somewhere–probably with my mother’s uniform. We moved around a lot when I was a girl, and I was a Girl Scout in Novi, Michigan–that was back when 9 Mile Road was unpaved. All our moves meant that we did not keep very much that we had outgrown.
Well, what is the point of this personal detour? It cannot possibly convey the centrality of Girl Scouting in my youth–but if you were like me even a little, you don’t need much description to understand. If you were not a Girl Scout, knowing that I was–long ago–helps explain a little bit about why I wanted to learn more about the founder of the organization. I look back fondly on those memories, and I remain proud that my mother and grandmother were also Girl Scouts. I trust that I’ve kept my historian’s objectivity in the biography.
One more birthday cake to make to conclude this bittersweet and busy week, and then back to the stuff of Daisy’s life.