SCIOTOVILLE — Girl Scouts have been making a difference in their communities and the world beyond for over 100 years.
In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low set out to create an organization that would give girls the opportunity to try new things they had never been exposed to before, such as camping, hiking and forestry. At a time when women in the United States hadn’t even yet earned the right to vote, Girl Scouts blazed trails and redefined what was possible for themselves and girls everywhere, according to the Girl Scouts website.
The Trail of a traveling Girl Scout uniform was about Mary Evans Walker, who was born in Sciotoville and during her childhood, she joined the Girl Scouts of America. Evans Walker’s daughter Polly (Lyons) had written many of these things down and then talked with the Daily Times to bring this story to life.
Lyons said that Walker talked a lot about attending Camp Molly Lauman, where she spent fun times with her friends and they would swim, hike, build campfires and learn to cook outdoors. The girls learned to identify trees, wildflowers, birds, insects and constellations.
Her daughters, Lyons and Nancy (Nicola) said their mom continued her Girl Scout involvement throughout her high school years and beyond. While enrolled at Ohio University in Athens, she continued her Girl Scout connection under the leadership of Charolett LaTourette, who was a professor of health and physical education at the University. While affiliated with the Girl Scout troop in Athens, their mom updated her uniform with a new troop insignia and badge number.
Walker met the girls’ dad at the University and they moved to Vinton. During the time the girls were growing up, they never saw their mother’s Girl Scout uniform until they were old enough and one of their summer jobs was to clean all the closets in the house. Their mom’s closest was the large one and they were told to take everything out of the closet. There, stashed in the back behind the clothes, was the Girl Scout uniform in all its glory.
This valued possession included the long-sleeved dress which buttoned-down the length of the dress, the belt, a scarf to wear around the neck and the hat with a brim. They were all colored the same olive greenish tan or brown. In the early 1930s, the introduction of new grey-green fabric for uniforms marked the first time the color green was associated with Girl Scouting. The troop insignia and number were sewn on the sleeve. A Girl Scout pin was worn on the dress and hat.
There was also the sash that held all the merit badges their mom has earned. The girls were never allowed to play with their mom’s Girl Scout uniform but would point to badges and their mom would tell them what she did to accomplish the particular badge, some of these badges that could have been on there were things like community safety, cook, needlecraft, Pen Pal, pets, child care and backyard fun.
Completion of the requirements for earning all of the merit badges contributed to their mom being awarded the Golden Eaglet Award and she was the first Golden Eaglet Girl Scout in Scioto County. A copy of her receiving this award was printed in the Portsmouth Daily Times in 1931 and it said that it was given to Evans Walker in the U.S. Grant school gymnasium February 7.
Evans Walker did lead a Girl Scout Troop in Vinton that her girls participated in but lasted only two years. After the girls’ parents died, they had the chore of cleaning out the house in Vinton. They came across the Girl Scout uniform once again. Lyons kept the uniform as the ‘keeper of the uniform’ and would do the same thing they had done in their childhood, clean out the closet and take the uniform out and put it back in the closet.
The sisters thought there has to be something better to do with that uniform, so they had a decision to make about the uniform and all of its merit badges on sewn on the sash, plus the hat and scarf. The badge sash was first introduced in the 1950s, opposed to the previous method of sewing badges onto the sleeves of uniforms.
It was suggested to them that the Girl Scout headquarters in Savannah, Georgia would be the best place to place the uniform. The headquarters was housed in the Julia Ward Lowe Museum, the home of the Girl Scout founder. The director of the museum informed them that the museum often received requests for girl scout items for use in exhibits and educational purposes. They could be shipped anywhere in the United States or in the world. Lyons and her husband Bill traveled to Savannah to deliver the uniform in person. The director said that this package was the most complete uniform that the museum had ever received.
Speaking with Lyons about the donation of the uniform, she said that she still wonders what ‘Mommy’ would think about them giving her uniform away and the answer was, she humorously said her mom would be furious with them to this day if she knew this was where her uniform was now.
The trail of ‘Mommy’s’ Girl Scout uniform leads from Sciotoville to Athens, to Vinton, to Lancaster all in Ohio and then finally to Savannah. This uniform is still traveling to places in the United States and the world to be exhibited in Girl Scout displays.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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