Note: I told this story in the summer of 2012 at a Girl Scout Day Camp. They were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts on that day. I told this story, the folktale "Coyote Brings Fire", and did my "stupid" human tricks.
Have you ever heard that 13 is an unlucky number? Some airlines will not designate a “row 13” on the planes because some people won’t sit there. Some hotels don’t designate a 13th floor, because some people won’t stay on that floor. They think bad things will happen to them if the #13 is around. I know you’ve heard that Friday, the 13th is unlucky. Some people won’t go outside on that day for fear that something bad will happen.
Well, I just happen to think that #13 is a lucky number. Let me tell you why.
Almost 60 years ago I was in second grade. One day two of the room mothers came to our class and said that they were going to start a brownie troop and they wanted to know who was interested. Every girl raised their hand. We didn’t know what a brownie troop was…but we wanted to be one!
The two moms were Mrs. Baricevic and Mrs. Friesz. We were lucky because these two mommies loved scouting. They had interesting and fun projects to do every time we met after school. In Brownies we learned things like sharing our talents, our resources and sometimes even our food. We were lucky because our scout leaders taught us these things by the example they set.
When we got our brownie uniforms, we were told to wear them every Tuesday so we would have them on after school for the Brownie meeting. Well, we didn’t just wear our uniforms our leaders always proudly wore their scout uniforms too. They were proud to be scouts. And, because they were proud…we were proud. Our troop was given the number 13. We were Troop 13 and proud of it.
I remember we had a Girl Scout Handbook with lots of badges that we could earn if we did the activities listed. We were lucky because our scout leaders helped us as a group or individually to earn badges that really interested us.
Mrs. Friesz was a good artist. She shared her talents with us and taught us how to paint on tile and canvas and even glass. We went to an artist studio to learn about ceramics. Later in cadet scouts we earned a drawing and painting badge. It had an artist palette stitched on it. We put it on our sash.
The badge I wanted was called “The Magic Carpet”. It was a round green circle and stitched on it was a girl sitting on a golden flying carpet. To earn that badge I had to learn about folktales and fables and fairy tales. I had to read books and do reports and draw pictures. If I didn’t understand something or needed a little push to get my activities in on time, I was lucky because Mrs. Baricevic was there for me. She encouraged me to read and, when she saw that I was a bit of ham, she encouraged me to not only read those stories but to tell them. She called me her little actress.
As Junior scouts we went on field trips to places all around St. Louis – the Pevely Dairy, St Louis Basilica. The Jewel Box, and the Locks and Dam in Alton, IL. We also went to day camps and special Girl Scouts Days at Cahokia Mounds. We made our own sit-upons, we sang funny songs and we worked on many crafts. We also had great pot luck suppers when we graduated to the different levels. Our leaders were with us every step of the way.
As Cadets, we went to day camps and earned our campcraft badge, we took First Aid lessons to earn our Red Cross badge and we went to a General Electric Cooking school to earn our cook badge.
Lucky Troop 13 was an active bunch. But the most fun was when we were cadets, and we took the train to Chicago. We went to Union Station in St. Louis to catch the train. While we were there, we kept hearing over the loud speaker. “Mrs. Baricevic.” “Mrs. Barivevic.” Finally, Mrs. Baricevic went to see why they were calling her name. She came back laughing. They were announcing the name of the train “Missouri Pacific!” We had many laughs that trip as we explored the big city. I often think of that trip as my initiation into becoming a teenager.
Perhaps, the most precious time was when our troop achieved the Regina Colei (tchalli) Award. The pin honored Mary, Queen of the Heavens. The bishop himself handed us that award for our religious works at a special Mass.
We were Lucky Troop 13 because Mrs. Baricevic and Mrs. Friesz provided us with an artist palette. On that palette were a wide variety of activities, badges, and adventures. We got to try so many things. Those that didn’t interest us we sort of let slide. But, when we found just the right color, we soared. Just like I did with my Magic Carpet badge. It is one of the reasons that I became a storyteller. I was lucky to have two of the best scout leaders who saw that I had a talent and encouraged me to follow my heart. Not only while I was in scouts… but throughout my life.
I have seen Girl Scouts grow and change since I was a scout. But one thing has not changed – the dedication of its scout leaders. I guess in one way we are all pretty lucky to be a part of rich heritage of the Girl Scouts of USA.