Friday, March 2, 2012

3-2-12 the Girl Scout Cookie mystery and other memories

To mark their 100th anniversary, the Girl Scouts rolled out their "newest" cookie, called Savannah Smiles, this year. 

What kept bothering me was that I had a hazy recollection, when I was a girl scout, we had a savannah cookie for sale. 

But over and over again, "the NEW Girl Scout cookie" kept nagging at me.

First, I thought I was just remembering the Savannah Smiles movie from 1982, which I loved and which I haven't seen since I was 12. Anyone else remember this?

But today I finally decided to go a-hunting for some Girl Scout lore after running across my little sterling silver girl scout charms in the bottom of my jewelry box, in desperate need of a polishing. 

And lo and behold, the mecca of old Girl Scout information did I discover at the Vintage Girl Scout Online Museum. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

There WAS a cookie called the savannah when I was selling them! Vindication!

In 1977, at $1.25 a box, the choices were: Mint, Scot-Teas, Lemon Creme, Savannah, Chocolate and Vanilla sandwich, Chocolate Chip, and new that year -- Cheddarette crackers.

In 1979, still $1.25 a box, first one listed: Savannahs.

What was the Savannah cookie in the 70s? I don't think it was a lemon base like the new one because they still had the lemon cremes (Dad's favorite.)

I was a cookie-selling fool between 1978 and 1981. I remember walking door to door, up and down the streets, completely alone, knocking on strangers' doors. I remember being driven to friends' homes and then hitting up the houses around them. We drove back over to Kirkdale so I could visit Mrs. Peters, our next door neighbor with the little white poodle dog, just so she could buy girl scout cookies from me. Dad would take an order form up to work to Armco Steel for the week and bring it home filled with extra pages attached. Mammammy bought a case of thin mints one year for us to keep in the freezer. Good times.

And when the cookies came in, I'd been one of the top sellers, and qualified for all the different levels of incentives from the baker, which included the silver charms, a patch, a tote bag with the year's theme, and the bragging rights of having half the cases of cookies the troup was splitting up going into our car.

So then I started trying to find pictures of those themes and incentives. The Online Museum helped quite a lot, although they have no mention of the tote bags. The Whale year was a duffel bag, I remember. And the rabbit year was a canvas style with shoulder straps. 

1978 was my first year selling, so while I remember the lion, I don't think I racked up the stuff until the following year when I figured out how to play the game.

1979, year of the rabbit. That brown patch in the center I had sewn prominently on my sash. The shiny silver charm underneath is what mine would look like if I took the silver polisher after it.

1980, The Whale of a Sale year. They have no record of the whale charm I am still in possession of, so the next course of action is to send in a good scan for it to be added.

1981 was my last year in Girl Scouts and it's probably due to the change of bakers that year. Burris always had the animal themed stuff. We ended up with the lame flower patches this time around, because our region went with the other baker.  I wanted the raccoon!

Before they were thin-mints, they were Cooky-Mints. But what really caught my eye were the three insignia on top of the box. I remember that brownie insignia so well. The Girl Scout handbook I owned had the story of the brownies in it that I poured over time and again. When I moved from brownies up to girl scouts, I was relieved to discover I didn't have to get rid of my brownie pin from my sash. I might've refused to graduate.

It was during my cookie selling tenure that they adopted the trefoil design of the three girls in profile and the older insignia were gradually phased out of the cookie side of the business.

But here is the real kicker. I'd forgotten how big those boxes used to be.

Once I'd exhausted the cookie lore, I found myself oohing and aahing over girl scout things I'd forgotten I once owned. Back then, to buy girl scout stuff, you went to Foleys, where they had a whole section devoted to it, in a central gazebo type structure in the middle of the girls section, right near the snoopy and hello kitty themed items. 

The knife, fork, and spoon interlocked and splayed out like cards. I'd totally forgotten about those.
 And the little lighter-shaped flashlight! The yellow cap glowed all warm-like in the dark. Didn't put out squat for light, but it was so cute, no one cared.
 And then there was the Girl Scouts are My Bag shirt, long before Austin Powers resurrected the phrase. The front was just solid, but the back appeared as though you were trussed up for some back woods hiking and camping adventure.

See? There I am, saving the day and pointing the way thanks to that shirt.

I had the thrill of getting to attend Girl Scout horse camp for a week at Peach Creek Ranch up towards New Caney one year.  They ran that camp from 1955 until 1990 when they sold the land to the Texas State Park system, now known as Lake Houston State Park. The day we checked in we were so early that there was no one in our camp group to tell us where to go, so Dad started setting up the most amazing mosquito netting you could ever imagine over one of the beds in one of the tents. It wasn't until he was almost done that we were alerted that I was in the wrong tent and would need to move. I will never forget Dad and another dad picking up this perfectly formed box, the bed as the base and the mosquito netting a perfect rectangle, marched it out of the wrong tent and into the right one to swap out with another bed so he didn't have to start over. 

And then, it rained all week long. I think we were on horse back exactly ONE time. I still have the little blue notebook of a diary from those days, complaining about the rain, and the food (I was such a picky eater I think I lost 10 pounds that week), and losing my tooth, and having to clean the latrines, and the mosquitoes, and the mud. Good times. I will have to locate the box of old pictures because I know there are a few of the tent and my tent mates around somewhere. How I do not already have them scanned is the real mystery.

(P.S. I am still on the hunt for more information about the Savannah cookie from the 70s if anyone out there knows or can locate a picture of the box or the order form.)


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