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home : columnists : columnists July 25, 2017

Cookies and camping with the Girl Scouts

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme

Girl Scout cookie time always stirs up memories of my own Girl Scout days in the 1960s.

When I started as a Brownie, Ginny Cook (Mrs. Felix,) the mother of my classmate, Cyndi Cook, took on the job of leading us and we used to meet in the Cooks' basement.

On one occasion Congressman Richard L. Roudebush presented our troop with a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol. I'm afraid I remember being more impressed by the flag than I was by the fact we had a real U.S. Congressman attending our Brownie meeting . . . in a basement.

From the Brownies, I graduated to the Junior Girl Scouts. (I don't know how the age levels are divided now, but at that time it was Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors.)

Our leader then was Bernice Sigman and Mrs. Sigman was quite a camper, so we were campers, too. We spent time at both Camp Dellwood on Indianapolis' west side and at Camp Gallahue near Morgantown.

I also recall attending a couple of day camps in this county. One was a little southeast of 126th and Allisonville, and the other somewhere around 106th and Eller Road. I'm sure both sites are Fishers subdivisions today.

Ah, camping - hiking, choking on clouds of "Off," and attempting to braid the perfect lanyard. (I spent a ton of money on different colored plastic lacing before I finally got the hang of lanyards!)

And who can forget the food? We ate such gourmet fare as hot dogs, campfire stew (basically browned hamburger and vegetable soup,) and an unnamed dish consisting of hamburger, potatoes and carrots roasted over a fire in little foil packets. For dessert we jammed a peppermint stick into an orange and used it like a straw to suck out the juice.

I sold my share of cookies at cookie time, although we didn't have nearly as many varieties then - only Scot-Teas (shortbread,) chocolate and vanilla sandwich cookies, Savannahs (peanut butter,) the four-flavored sandwich cookies and of course, the mints.

I have another reason for writing about the Girl Scouts, though. I recently ran across information concerning Noblesville's first Girl Scout troop among my mother's papers and I thought the details were worth recording.

It appears someone was aware of Mom's early involvement with the local organization (her file included a couple of membership cards showing she'd qualified as a "Tenderfoot" scout in 1926!) and had asked her to gather information about that first troop.

According to the paperwork, Noblesville's first Girl Scout troop was organized February 14, 1921 in the home of Ursula (Brown) Christian. Later meetings were held at either the Christian home, or in the basement of the old Carnegie library.

It's not completely clear who the first leader was, but I believe it was Margaret (Axline) Hanson because one paragraph states that the troop "camped" at the Horseshoe Lodge cabins during the summer of 1922 and that "Bess (Woddell) Cloe assisted Margaret (Axline) Hanson during this undertaking."

Although the girls had no uniforms, they had "plenty of spirit and enjoyed the time very much."

The three women mentioned were all fairly prominent. Ursula Christian was the first wife of attorney Floyd Christian who later gained some fame for defending both former KKK Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson and William Dudley Pelley, Margaret Axline was the daughter of local druggist William E. Axline, and Bess Woddell later married Judge Ernest E. Cloe.

I tried to dig up more on this early troop, but couldn't find anything in the newspaper microfilm. If you have any details to add, let me know.

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

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