HELLO GE­OR­GIA A lady for all the world

The Covington News - - Opinion -

“She can have him,” said Daisy, as she climbed fran­ti­cally up the nar­row steps lead­ing from the Ar­ca­dian’s din­ing room onto the main deck of the ship. Glanc­ing back­ward, her heart beat­ing faster, she pushed through the crowd of pas­sen­gers, and mut­tered in a mud­dled un­der­tone, “This is what I might have ex­pected.”

Daisy, an at­trac­tive so­cialite widow in her 40s, had just been jilted by a man whose com­pany she was en­joy­ing. He had been her “knight in shin­ing ar­mor;” now he was noth­ing but a de­ceit­ful de­mon.

Mo­ments ear­lier, she had learned that her com­pan­ion for the voy­age, Sir Robert BadenPow­ell, had met some­one else, a wo­man named Olave Soames, who was trav­el­ing with her fa­ther. A head­long ro­mance had be­gun.

Crushed by the calamity, she braced her­self for the stark re­al­ity of re­jec­tion. Gaz­ing in gloom at the waves beat­ing against the side of the ship, her mind be­gin to spin like a video-tape movie at fast-for­ward over the past few months: The par­ties in Lon­don with the rich and fa­mous; the in­ti­mate con­ver­sa­tions; the sculp­tur­ing they had done to­gether, and now the voy­age to Amer­ica; th­ese had of­fered hope, but now the end had come. She would sim­ply for­get them all.

But there was some­thing she could not for­get — the dream of start­ing the Girl Guides or­ga­ni­za­tion, an idea that had lodged it­self in her mind by her as­so­ci­a­tion with Sir Robert. With that in mind, she de­cided to with­draw her­self from the pres­ence of Sir Robert and his new young love. When the ship stopped in Ja­maica, she left be­fore the cruise was ended, and made other plans to sail for Savannah.

Heavy-hearted, and lonely, she would now de­vote the rest of her life to­ward help­ing the girls of Amer­ica and the world by start­ing the Girl Scout move­ment.

“Daisy” was only her nick­name. She was born Juli­ette Mag­ill Kinzie, Oct. 31, 1860. Her mother, Nel­lie Kinzie, was from Chicago, and had mar­ried William Gor­don of Savannah. Daisy’s fa­ther served as an of­fi­cer in the Con­fed­er­ate Army.

Af­ter the War Be­tween the States, Daisy at­tended private schools in Vir­ginia and New York; then trav­eled to Europe, where she met and mar­ried William Low, a wealthy English play­boy. They were mar­ried in Christ Church, Savannah, Dec. 21, 1886. They re­turned to Eng­land.

Time passed; and Daisy’s hus­band con­tin­ued his pre­vi­ous lifestyle of hunt­ing big game in Africa and chas­ing other women. This led to a sep­a­ra­tion; but be­fore there could be a di­vorce, William Low died in 1905. Daisy then left for France to study sculp­tur­ing. Re­turn­ing to Eng­land, she met Sir Robert Baden-Pow­ell, a Bri­tish Army gen­eral.

Baden-Pow­ell had founded the Boy Scouts in 1908. He had writ­ten a mil­i­tary re­con­nais­sance book for army of­fi­cers and “Scout­ing for Boys,” and or­ga­nized the first Boy Scout en­camp­ment at Brownsea Is­land in Dorset, Scot­land, the same year the Amer­i­can Boy Scouts were es­tab­lished.

Agnes Baden-Pow­ell, Robert’s sis­ter, or­ga­nized the Bri­tish Girl Guides in 1910. Through her as­so­ci­a­tion with the Baden-Pow­ells in Eng­land and Scot­land, Daisy, who had once told Robert, “I feel like my life has been wasted,” was sud­denly in­spired to do some­thing for oth­ers; she would carry the ben­e­fits of the Girl Guides to Amer­ica, and would see its be­gin­ning in Savannah, her home city.

Her voy­age on the Ar­ca­dian to Savannah by way of the West Indies with Sir Robert was her first step to­ward the re­al­iza­tion of her dream. Her ro­mance with Sir Robert failed; but through it her fu­ture had been charted. Through her res­o­lute spirit and the power of her dream, time was in­verted, and the sun­set of her pur­pose be­came the dawn of a new and brighter day.

In time, she reached Savannah, and con­tacted her cousin, Nana Pape, and said: “I have some­thing for the girls of Savannah and all Amer­ica and all the world.”

Vi­sion be­came re­al­ity, and very soon.

In a few days she and Nana had en­listed Page An­der­son, a dis­tant rel­a­tive, who was al­ready a leader of a group of na­ture-lov­ing girls. Page was drafted as the ini­tial pa­trol cap­tain, and the Girl Guides of Amer­ica was off to a hope­ful start. The first meet­ings were held in the car­riage house be­hind the home of Daisy. Uni­forms were dark blue skirts, middy blouses, black cot­ton stock­ings, and black hair rib­bons, and mem­ber­ship in­cluded girls ages 7 to 17.

This new or­ga­ni­za­tion would be some­thing that would give to young girls in Amer­ica, and later the world, their first ex­pe­ri­ence of camp­ing and re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties. It was a grow­ing ben­e­fit born in the mind of a bro­ken-hearted, home­sick widow which be­came on March 12, 1912, the Girl Scouts of Amer­ica in the birth­place of Juli­ette Gor­don Low.

In 1915, a na­tional head­quar­ters was set up in Wash­ing­ton, D. C. and in­cor­po­rated with a na­tional coun­cil and a con­sti­tu­tion and by-laws.

The Girl Scouts of the United States of Amer­ica is a non­sec­tar­ian, non­po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion for all girls of all races and creeds. Is pur­pose is to help girls learn and prac­tice good cit­i­zen­ship. Through the or­ga­ni­za­tion a li­ai­son is main­tained with all sim­i­lar groups in all parts of the world through cor­re­spon­dence, ex­change vis­its and con­fer­ences.

To­day there are over three mil­lion Girl Scout and Girl Guides in nearly ev­ery in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­try in the world. Their ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude homemak­ing, arts and crafts, health and safety, lit­er­a­ture and dra­mat­ics, camp­ing and hik­ing, mu­sic, danc­ing, sports and games, com­mu­nity life and in­ter­na­tional friend­ship.

In Savannah, the First Na­tional Girl Scout Head­quar­ters build­ing, for­merly the car­riage house at 330 Dray­ton Street, was willed to the or­ga­ni­za­tion upon Juli­ette’s death in 1927. The build­ing now houses the Coun­cil’s uni­form and equip­ment shop.

It also dis­plays Girl Scout mem­o­ra­bilia, and is a pro­gram cen­ter. The Wayne-Gor­don House, 142 Bull Street, birth­place of Juli­ette Lowe, is now the shrine for over three mil­lion scouts.

Juli­ette Low had no chil­dren, but her spirit lives on in the Girl Scout work she started — a rich bless­ing to mil­lions of girls around the world.

Clifford Brew­ton

Colum­nist

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