Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mrs. Rogers

Everyone knows Mr. Rogers, that paragon of virtue, kindness, gentleness goodness and love, brought into our homes via PBS back in the day.

Let me introduce you to MRS. Rogers, who was Mr. Rogers's equal in virtue, with her own brand of love and service.  She was not in any way related to the well-known and loved Mr. Rogers; she had her own Mr. Rogers, sans a cardigan sweater, who was a close second to PBS's wonderful version.

Mrs. Rogers  was my Brownie and Girl Scout leader for 9 years.  She and Reva Sims formed Troop 2259 in 1960 when her daughter Patty reached first grade.  Through the grapevine my Mom heard about this brand new Brownie troop forming, and I got in on the ground floor, so to speak.  Patty was an only child, adopted in fact, and Mrs. R. was able to put all of her energy into our troop, for Patty's sake yes, but I know she believed in us all.   Mrs. R. was 100% committed, so our troop became the most active in the area.  Weekly meetings, serving in schools, churches and communities, assisting individuals in their needs, camping, crafting, cooking, horse-back riding, personal grooming lessons, galloping dinners at holiday time, father-daughter and mother-daughter fun.  You name it, we did it.

Mrs. R. has been gone for a while but her legacy lives on.  I wholeheartedly know this due to the degree my own life was enriched by her providing activities that developed me into a more competent, better person than would have happened naturally.  A few years ago Patty traced via Facebook, the former members of Troop 2259 and invited us all to the page where she posted photographs of those good ol' days.   And then this summer, Patty was living temporarily in Bend, a town 3 hours away from me.  I spent a long, delightful afternoon with her in Bend discussing her mother and our troop.  We hadn't seen each other in over 42 years.

Patty let me in on a few secrets about Mrs. Rogers that I couldn't have guessed.  Most laughable was her perfectionism.  Our troop always made a crafty gift for our parents at holiday time, and for Mother's and Father's Day.  I thought the crafts were swell, and that our parents would be giddy as all get-out to receive them.  What I didn't know is that Mrs. R. in her private time engaged in do-overs.  If a girl's craft was shoddy or mediocre, she would "fix" it before it was taken home as a gift.  Who knew?

Mr. Rogers was involved in our overnight camp activities.  One time I discovered rattle snakes living near our tents.  Armed with a shovel and the help of a few others, he made short work of that nasty serpent den.  He was a quiet, kind, helpful man.

As I sit here looking at Mrs. Rogers's photo, tears come to my eyes.  I loved her and am grateful she dedicated herself to building up the next generation of girls.  We all turned out pretty good!

Some special memories about Troop 2259: 

My first overnight experience away from home was a Brownie campout at Chatsworth Park.  Our family did not own a sleeping bag until this event required us to buy one.  It was Army green on the outside, with a flannel brown/red/green hounds-tooth on the inside.  We slept under the stars.

Our troop wrote and visited Kim L., one of our troop members, who was confined at Olive View Sanitarium for asthma.

Some of us worked with younger children at the elementary school who had large motor problems (my photo was in the paper for this).

Mrs. Rogers organized a Brownie Mother's Day Tea, which got my photo with Mom in the Valley Green Sheet Newspaper.  Mrs. Rogers must have cultivated reporter Polly Spain as a contact at the newspaper; Polly wrote regular articles about our troop.

Brownie Charm School: Mrs. N., the mother of one of the girls, educated us in personal grooming, manners, and charm.  We learned to walk with books on our heads, do manicures, make proper introductions, etc.

At the end of every meeting we held hands and sang, "Good might Brownies, good night Brownies, good night Brownies, we'll see you again next week!."   We would twist our arms around, break the circle and head for home.  Other songs we sang often were "Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold."   And the well known, "Day Is Done."  We sang the lively folk song "Titanic" ("Oh it was sad, oh it was sad . . .") until the Girl Scout Council said we couldn't anymore.  Survivors of the Titanic could be hurt or even traumatized by it.

Girl Scout camp was the best.   Hollywoodland, Camp Lakota, and Camp Aventura are the places I remember.  My own family didn't camp, and I thrilled at the treat of sleeping in a tent, cooking outdoors, and exploring the wilderness.

Badges.  As we completed each theme we were awarded the badge for it.  My sash was quite full.  I loved achieving each one of those.  Wish I had my sash now.


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