Saturday, June 3, 2017

Brownie Scout and Girl Scout Memories:1948-1959

We had both Brownie and Girl Scout troops in David. The boys had the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. We all learned the handshakes, the salutes, the mottoes, and the pledges.  (Brother Rodney, and other Boy Scouts, boys served as Air Rangers during and after WWII--they were to report all planes passing over the hills around David.

It seems the Brownie pledge was, "I promise to do my best to love God and my country, to help other people at all times, especially those at home".

If memory serves, the Girl Scout pledge was, "On my honor I will try to do my duty to God and my Country, to serve other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout laws". 
The Boy Scout motto was, "Be Prepared". For the life of me, I cannot remember our Girl Scout and Brownie mottoes.

The Company promoted the Scout activities and women and men, and sometimes college students from the community served as leaders. Princess Elkhorn Coal Company built two authentic log cabins with wrap around porches for our meetings and activities. The Girl Scout cabin was on the hill at the head of School House Holler. The Boy Scout Cabin was higher on the hill at the head of Official "Fisher" Holler. We called it Fisher and didn't know the Company had reserved this space for company workers, not Union Miners. Up in Fisher Holler, big beautiful houses looked down on our row of company houses. The better homes were reserved for engineers and superintendents.

In the summer we had day camp for 2-3 weeks and would go every day to the Girl Scout Cabin for  interesting activities and projects. We made pot holders and tea towels. We wove baskets from reeds soaked in water until they reached a pliable state. We spatter painted leaves--somehow by placing the leaf on a paper then holding a piece of screen over it and using a brush to spatter paint through the screen and onto the paper where it left a perfect outline of the leaf.  We had to be able to identify our native trees by their leaves and their bark. We went to the swimming pool for real lessons. though  most of us could already swim, thanks to the beautiful pool our coal miner fathers built. The things we could make with Popsicle sticks and cup cake papers was endless!

We learned folk dances from America and other countries. Anyone remember, "Heel and toe, heel and toe, slide and slide and slide and slide"? I remember the tune but these are the only words I remember.

We sang, "Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree, mighty, mighty king of the Bushes he. Laugh, Kookaburra laugh, Kookaburra  _____ ____ _____ for me".

And, "Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set. Sarasponda, Sarasponda, Sarasponda ret set set. Ah dor a O!  A dor a Boonda O! Ossie Possie ret set set, Ossie Possie O! Boonda, boonda, boonda".

We made buddy burners by rolling strips of cardboard tightly into Vienna Sausage cans, then covering the cardboard with melted paraffin wax. For the stove, we used a 5-10 lb. lard bucket turned upside down, with a little door cut out so we could place the buddy burner inside. Light the Buddy Burner with a match and we could fry eggs or anything on the griddle created by the bottom of the bucket. Magic!

We made sit-upons by cutting squares of oil cloth which we joined together with the "quilting stitch"  leaving one side open , then filling the squares with old. newspapers and stitching the final side of the water-proof pad we would sit upon for outside activities. We sat on them at wiener roasts and cook outs. We cut green slender tree branches for sticking our wieners and marshmallows on to roast. A favorite food was a pork chop, a piece of chicken, or a hamburger patty topped with carrots and onions, wrapped in foil and placed under the hot coals of our fire. We played games and sang while waiting for our meal to cook. Of course, we learned to build a fire--tender, then kindling, then wood. I still have a small scar on my right thumb from when I was 10 years old and my axe slipped. Today, I bet they wouldn't allow a ten year old to cut wood. Anyone know?

We had a "permanent" Girl Scout camp, Camp Chatterawah on Dewey Lake (now Jenny Wiley State Park). I  was able to go two  summers--it seemed expensive, but was probably only $25-$50. I was 13 and in high school when I first went. I was amazed when they served white sliced bread  and butter with a meal. Butter on cold bread?? At home, we always had hot cornbread or biscuits. "Light bread" was for sandwiches.  But I loved it, still do Another food first was having rice for lunch or dinner (supper to me) with butter, salt and pepper. Before, I had only eaten it as a hot breakfast cereal with sugar and milk. .

At Camp Chatterawah, I learned nautical lashing and we built  railings up the hill to our tents by lashing branches together--the hill was steep and we could pull ourselves up with the "bannisters" we built.  I can still tie a few knots. We stargazed and learned the constellations while lying on our homemade bedrolls, I never had a sleeping bag. Did any of us?

Of course, we had to follow military rules for raising, lowering,  and folding the American Flag. A bugler blew Reveille at daybreak and Taps at sunset when we lowered the flag. I wish I could paint the awesome natural beauty around us. We were surrounded by hills as we stood at attention beside the lake--sunset, blue sky, shimmery lake--indescribable. We circled the flagpole and  sang to the tune of Taps,

"Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hill, from the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh". Then our final salute, "Good night, Scouts".

I earned my canoeing and life saving badges during camp on the lake--although I never owned a GS uniform to properly display them. They brought in some tough football players, on summer break from college, to play our victims. My "victim" was a David boy, Wayne Dixon, a former Prestonsburg Black Cat who became a big football star at Morehead or UK, I've forgotten which. Big Wayne fought but I landed him on the pier all by myself. I think he must have helped me a little though. Thanks Wayne,for sure: RIP. 

I could go on for pages, but will stop. Maybe you can fill in some of my blanks. I'll close with one of the campfire songs we loved as we got older. This one was a hit with us--pre-women's liberation, of course 

"You made me what I am today. I hope you're satisfied.
You dragged and you dragged me down until the soul within me cried.
You shattered each and every dream. You fooled me from the start.
And, though you're not true, may God bless you.
That's the curse of an aching heart".

Good Night Scouts!

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