Tag Archives: Girl Scout cookies

My Girl Scout Career

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girl scout trifoil with outline by barnheartowlMy Girl Scout career lasted six years. I started in first grade as a Brownie and continued in the organization until the end of sixth grade, my last year as a Junior. I sold a lot of cookies, earned some patches, and never went camping.

My mom was the leader or assistant leader for the first five troops I was in. In fifth grade, no one wanted to lead a Junior troop, so I got to be the helper in my mom’s Brownie troop. I don’t remember in what ways I helped. Mostly I remember participating in activities with the younger girls during meetings and working on projects for my badges alone, at home, on my own time.

By sixth grade, while I was still interested in Girl Scouts, my mom was burned out. She was done being a Girl Scout leader. By the beginning of the school year, another mom had stepped up to lead a Junior troop.

I don’t remember much about that troop. We met in the same building where Catholic kids (including me and my sibling) received weekly indoctrination in church policy. My overall memory of my troop is of a bunch of almost teenage girls running around a small classroom screaming. Our troop leader did not have control of the situation.

The Christmas season rolled around. (This was the early 80s in a medium size, predominately Catholic town. No one I knew spoke of the “holiday season.” I’d never heard of Hanukah or Kwanza.) At a meeting after Thanksgiving, our leader told us we’d make Christmas tree ornaments the next time we met.

On the appointed evening, after we ate our snack (cheap cookies and super sweet Kool-Aid), the leader gave each girl a metal circle that had been removed from a can of food. The edges were jagged and sharp, and a crude hole had been punched to facilitate hanging. The leader said we could decorate our circles any way we wanted, then turned us loose with glitter and glue. Badges, Cartoon, Comic, Comic Characters, Cookies

It wasn’t my finest art project, but I hadn’t been given much to work with. I don’t recall the ornament ever hanging from the family Christmas tree. In fact, when my parents divorced and I took the box of family Christmas tree decorations, I didn’t find the ornament among the tinsel, lights, and other school art project decorations. I suspect my mother trashed the can lid ornament moments after it arrived in our house.

My mother was trying not to badmouth this new leader. After all, the woman had taken on a job my mother didn’t want. It wouldn’t be fair to criticize her for doing the best she could. Beside, since I was in the woman’s troop, I should respect her, which might be difficult if my mom was badmouthing her within my hearing. Somehow, I still knew my mom didn’t approve of the rowdy chaos of the meetings, and even I could see the Christmas tree ornament was a substandard art project. My Girl Scout troop didn’t meet during the Christmas holidays, and whenever it came up as a topic of conversation, my mom pressed her lips into a thin line of disapproval, but didn’t say much.

Soon after we went back to school, it was Girl Scout cookie time. Some years back, the people governing the Girl Scout organization decided girls should take preorders for cookies. Each girl received a large, glossy card printed in color with a list of all the cookies available. The chart included a place to write the name and phone number of each customer and a row to fill in how many boxes of each variety of cookie the customer wanted. I dutifully carried my order card around with me for the next few weeks so I could take orders from friends, family, and family friends.

When the cookies were finally delivered, my mom went with me into our troop’s meeting room to pick up what my customers had ordered, as well as the extras I’d sell door-to-door. My parents spent the following weeks driving me around so I could drop off cookies and collect money owed.

I don’t clearly remember the next part of my story, but my mom told me all about it when I was in my 20s. Of course, my sibling says, Mom lies about everything! and Mother’s track record is spotty at best. However, since I have no recollection of the following events and only Mom’s side of the story to go by, I can only report what she told me.

Throughout cookie delivery time, the troop leader wanted the girls to give her cash as we collected it. I think she even called my mom and asked for the cookie cash we had on hand. My mom explained that in years past, as I collected cookie money, she deposited it in the family checking account, then at the end of cookie sales, she wrote one check for the full amount owed. I don’t think the leader was very happy with this arrangement, but there was nothing she could do if my mother refused to turn in the money until the very end.

The day came to turn in the cookie money. Mom sent me in to the troop’s meeting room to hand it over, but I don’t remember if it was in the form of a check or a wad of cash. She made me bring in the order card too, on which there was a spot for the leader to initial to indicate all money had been received. My mother told me not to come back to the car until I had the leader’s initials in the proper spot.

I was gone for a long time, Mom told me years later. I’m not sure if I told my mom that the leader hadn’t wanted to initial the card, of if that’s a detail one of us has added in. In any case, the cookie money was turned in, and my mom had one less thing to worry about.

I don’t know if it was weeks or months later when a representative of the local Girl Scout council called my mom to let her know our family still owed money for all the boxes of cookies we’d taken. Mom said I’d given the money to my troop leader. The person from the Girl Scout council told my mom the leader said she’d never received any money from me. My mom countered with the leader’s initials on my order card indicating she had received full payment. The Girl Scout council representative thought that was very interesting as the leader had not initialed any of the other girls’ cards.

More details came to light as my mother talked to the parents of other girls in the troop, as well as people she knew who worked for the local Girl Scout council. The leader had been asking everyone for cash during cookie delivery time, and apparently, lots of families had handed it right over. There was even some indication the woman had ordered way more boxes of cookies than the girls in the troop could possibly sell, but I don’t know if she planned to go into the black market cookie business during the summer or if she planned to feed her kids cookies when she didn’t have grocery money. I imagine her driving down to Mexico to start a new life, a thick stack of cash in her purse, her kids buckled in, and the back of the station wagon stacked with boxes of Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties.

The last my mother heard, the sheriff was looking for the troop leader.

I understand times were tough for the troop leader. I think she was a single mother with a couple of kids in addition to the skinny daughter who was in the troop. However, one can’t get much lower than stealing from Girl Scouts, except maybe by stealing from nuns. The leader probably didn’t think what she did was stealing from 5th and 6th graders, but some portion of that money was supposed to go back to our troop for fun activities and projects. She really had stolen from us.

That year was my last in Girl Scouts. I would have moved on to a troop of Cadets in 7th grade, but no one wanted to lead the troop, and maybe no other girls wanted to be part of it. After the leader embezzled the cookie money, my mom decided my time in Girl Scouts was over.

Images courtesy of https://openclipart.org/detail/215146/girl-scout-trifoil-with-outline and https://pixabay.com/en/badges-cartoon-comic-1300127/.

Cookie

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girl scout trifoil with outline by barnheartowlWhen I was a Brownie, I was a cooking-selling machine.

Part of my success was due to my Aunt Dash. She worked at an upscale clothing store for women, and every year at cookie time, she’d have me come in to sell to her co-workers. I don’t know if the co-workers were just being nice of if they were cookie fiends, but those women scooped up most of my inventory.

I sold cookies to my family too.

My parents did their part to support me, not just by driving me around to make deliveries and handling the money, but also by actually buying cookies. Our nuclear family tried them all, but our favorites were Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, and—of course—Thin Mints. Later, the Girl Scout
Cookie Corporation (or whatever it was called) came out with Carmel Delights, which I was quite fond of, but my parents liked to stay with the tried and true varieties. Personally, I never met a Girl Scout cookie I didn’t like.

Members of my mother’s large extended family bought cookies too. None of my girl cousins were ever in the Girl Scouts, so I had the family cookie market cornered. My MaMa was always good for a few boxes, as were most of my aunts and uncles. My godfather did more than his fair share to support my cookie empire. Other than Aunt Dash, I don’t remember my dad’s side of the family buying any of my cookies, but maybe that was because they lived farther away.

After selling to my aunt’s coworkers and my family members, I took the cookie show on the road.

Despite my mother’s fear of the kidnapping of her children, she’d dress me in my Brownie uniform and help me load boxes of cookies into the family’s rusty green wagon so I could peddle the delicacies through the streets of the mobile home park where we lived. My younger sibling went with me, for safety, in our mother’s mind, but I’m sure the added adorableness didn’t hurt sales.

Stay together, my mother would tell us, and don’t ever ever ever go into anyone’s house.

We’d set out to knock on the front door of each trailer in turn.

I had a routine and a spiel. I’d climb the steps to the front door and knock knock knock. Then I’d run back down the steps to join my sibling next to the wagon full of deliciousness. When the resident opened the door, I’d say Hi! I’m a Girl Scout, and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies… From there I’d let the adult’s questions (How much? What flavors?) lead the conversation.

I was exciting to be out in the world without parental supervision. It was exciting to have a product people wanted to buy. It was exciting to be handed money and be trusted to make change. I felt like quite the grownup until…

I ran up the steps. Knock knock knock. I ran back down the steps. A woman opened the door. In my excitement, I blurted out, I’m a Girl Scout cookie!

The woman burst out laughing. Of course she did! How hilarious is a little girl announcing she’s a cookie? Pretty hilarious!

I felt my cheeks flush with shame. Oh, the humiliation!

I didn’t feel like a grown up anymore, but I was nothing if not persistent.  I’m a Girl Scout, I mean, I corrected myself, and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies.

What could she do but buy a box?

Image courtesy of https://openclipart.org/detail/215146/girl-scout-trifoil-with-outline.

Inappropriate

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I went with my friend to a function at her kid’s middle school.

It was a Saturday, and the event was a festival of sorts. There were two stages where kids from the school (band, chorus, dancers, mimes) were performing.There were activities going on, like a bike rodeo outside and (I’m not even kidding) making fish prints in the art room. (To make a fish print, take a cold dead fish and brush paint on its body. Then place paper on top of the painted fish and press gently on the paper all along the fish’s body. Remove the paper carefully and admire your fish print.) There were Girl Scouts selling cookies and lots informational tables. There were so many people running around: kids who attend the middle school, the younger and older siblings of those kids, parents, grandparents, probably aunts and uncles and cousins too.

My friend and I were there particularly to see her kid dance with her dance class. The dance class is taught at the school as an elective, alternating with art. Some days the kid goes to art class and on other days she goes to dance class. The dance performance was the last event on the program.

We were sitting in the cafeteria, facing the stage, along with at least 100 other friends and family members of the students. As preparations were being made for the performance, a young woman in a romper came out on the stage.

According to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/romper, a romper is

  1. a loose, one-piece garment combining a shirt or blouse and short, bloomerlike pants, worn by young children.
  2. a similar garment worn by women and girls for sports, leisure activity, etc.

I guess rompers are in again these days. I remember back in the 70s, my mom had two. One was pink and one was yellow. Both were terrycloth. She wore them to the beach and around the house in the summer. They, like the one the woman on stage was wearing, were strapless.

Yes, the definition says the garment consists of “a shirt or blouse,” but this woman’s romper was more like a long tube top. The top was connected to the shorts, and covered her midriff, but it had no sleeves, not even spaghetti straps. There was nothing but a bit of elastic holding the top over the young woman’s breasts.

I guess my first thought was that it was weird that a student would be allowed to wear something strapless to school, even on a Saturday. My second thought was that this woman, though a young woman, looked quite a bit older than a middle school student.

Then the young woman started to speak. She referred to the dancers taking the stage as “my class.” That’s when I whispered to my friend, Is that the teacher? She rolled her eyes and nodded. The teacher was at a school function in a strapless romper!

First I have to say, I am not one of those people who thinks that teachers should look like old-fashioned schoolmarms. Nor do I think that teachers can’t be young and fun or that teachers shouldn’t be seen in public drinking and dancing and whatever. I think that on their own time, adult teachers should be able to do whatever other adults are allowed to do and dress however other adults are allowed to dress.

However, this teacher was not on her own time. She was at a school function, and she was one wardrobe malfunction away from showing her dance students and their friends and family her tits! (Ok, maybe there was a strapless bra under that romper. If so, slippage would have led to slightly less trauma for all involved.)

How could she think that outfit was a good idea?

Trifle

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tri·fle
ˈtrīfəl/
noun
British

a cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream

The Lady of the House came home from the thrift store with a large glass bowl attached to a glass pedestal. She was very excited about it and said it was a trifle bowl.

I had heard of trifle before. I’d probably first encountered it in books set in the 1940s and/or 1950s. More recently, I’d seen trifle on Food Network’s competition show Chopped. (I really like Chopped. I can watch one episode after another for hours.) On a special celebrity episode of Chopped, I saw a woman (either Carnie Wilson or Gillian Vigman, I can’t remember which) make a trifle in honor of her mother who made them a lot when she (the celebrity) was a kid.

I’d never eaten trifle though.

The Lady of the House had eaten trifle made by her husband’s aunt. The aunt makes them whenever her household hosts a family gathering. The Lady started talking of a dessert made with layers of chocolate cake and chocolate pudding and Cool Whip and Heath bar. I was in!

The Lady had recently bought Girl Scout Cookies from Girl Scouts selling in front of a grocery store. Instead of Heath bar, I suggested, what about crushed up Thin Mints? Everybody in the house was excited by that idea.

The trifle bowl stayed empty for several weeks while life kept The Lady busy.

One Sunday morning, The Lady gave The Boy the choice of baking a chocolate cake or helping with yard work. He chose baking the chocolate cake, and the preparation of the trifle was begun. (I got to help with yard work.)

After preparing the chocolate cake from a mix and getting the batter into the oven, The Boy also whipped up a big bowl of chocolate pudding. When we got in from the yard, the cake was cooling, and the pudding was chilling in the fridge. After a few hours, the layering was ready to begin.

First, cake was crumbled into the bottom of the trifle bowl. Next, chocolate pudding was layered on top of the cake. Then Cool Whip was spread on top of the pudding.

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Finally, crushed Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies were sprinkled on top of the Cool Whip.

 

IMG_2375  Another layer of cake was added, then another layer of pudding.

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After all the layers were added, the trifle was covered in cling wrap and left to chill in the refrigerator. The trifle becomes tastier as it gets colder and as the  the flavors meld together. It’s better to let the trifle sit in the refrigerator at least overnight, but that requires extreme willpower.

 

IMG_2383     Here’s the final product.

The trifle was absolutely delicious. Because the cake basically absorbs the pudding, the dessert is very moist. (If your cake ever comes out of the oven too dry, you can save the dessert by using the cake in a trifle.) The Thin Mints gave the trifle very subtle minty undertones, not at all overwhelming. The cookies too became very moist and didn’t offer any crunch. That was good for my tooth problems, but folks who really want a crunch would do better with Heath bars or some other candy that won’t soften. I personally would have liked a little more Cool Whip (I am a huge whipped cream fan), so if I were going to make a trifle, I’d use two tubs of Cool Whip or a couple (three?) cans of real whipped cream.

The trifle was one of the best desserts ever!

I took all the photos in this post.

The Evils of Girl Scout Cookies

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Thin Mint, Homemade, Grasshopper, Food, Dessert, MintI was selling jewelry and shiny rocks in front of a local, independent bookstore. My table was up against an adobe wall. On the other side of the wall, two teenage Girl Scouts & their mom chaperone were selling Girl Scout cookies.

A man walked up to my table, and I said hello to him.

“Do you know what that woman is doing?” he asked me in an angry German (or maybe Austrian) accent while indicating the chaperone mom.

“What?” I asked, wanting the scoop.

“She is making children sell cookies that are full of sugar!” He went on to tell me that what she was doing was wrong, that sugar is not good for everybody. (I think he meant “anybody.”) He said she was wrong to make the children sell the unhealthy cookies and that he’d told her so!

I wanted to ask him if he’d never heard of the tradition of selling Girl Scout cookies as a fundraiser, but I’ve learned not to get into discussions with fanatics.

Then he complained that the chaperone mom was blocking the sidewalk so folks had to pass right by the table with the cookies.

I told him I thought the restaurant they were set up in front of had given them permission to be where they were, and he said, “Money talks!”

Did he think the Girl Scouts were giving the restaurant a kickback on their shameful sugar earnings?

At that point, I knew there’d be no reasonable discussion with the man (and probably no bracelet sale either), so I busied myself tidying up my table and made noncommittal “I heard you” noises in response to everything he said until he went away.

https://i2.wp.com/static.pexels.com/photos/264537/pexels-photo-264537.jpeg?resize=296%2C222&ssl=1Perhaps he should write to the Girl Scout national office and propose Girl Scout carrots, Girl Scout cauliflower, Girl Scout cabbage and Girl Scout cantaloupes. Would you patronize a Girl Scout produce stand?

Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/thin-mint-homemade-grasshopper-food-182858/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/abundance-agriculture-bananas-batch-264537/.