Juliette Gordon Low loved animals and owned a number of different cats, dogs, cows, rabbits, and birds throughout her life. Girl Scouts all over know that she had a large, gray parrot named Polly Poons. Polly was a formidable creature, apparently, and not necessarily well-liked by all of Daisy Low’s friends. Daisy seemed to have a special affinity for animals whose charm was evident to her alone. Polly used to sleep on Daisy’s chest but terrify those around her.
One March day in 1919, four short months after the guns had fallen silent on the battlefields across Europe, Daisy mentioned to her good friends Carrie and Rudyard Kipling that the Vanderbilts were taking Polly Poons off to Belgium. She didn’t say why, but it was probably because Daisy herself was traveling and unable to keep Polly with her. Belgium had been invaded by Germany at the start of World War I, and had suffered mightily in the war. Like England, Belgium was trying to rebuild. The Kiplings lost their son to the war, and they were grappling with their grief. One way to do so was humor.
When Rudyard Kipling learned that the redoubtable Polly Poons was going to that stricken country, he said: “Now the devaluation of Belgium will be complete! I remember the bird well, and what the Germans have left of Belgium will be demolished by Polly Poons.”
Juliette Gordon Low to Daisy Gordon Lawrence, 24 March 1919, Georgia Historical Society, Gordon Family Papers, MS318/15/163.
photo from: http://lala-live2-e.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/. That is a gray parrot—but it is not Polly Poons!