‘Tis the season. Girls and moms everywhere are at large selling Girl Scout Cookies.
Recently, when I pulled into the Kroger parking lot, I observed two contingents of Girl Scouts in front of the store, one at each entrance.
Apparently, the two groups were in cahoots, because uniformed little girls ran constantly back and forth between the tables. I had a mental image of soldiers at the battlefront carrying messages between units.
I sized up the situation. The table at the left entrance was a mob scene — three moms, seven or eight Girl Scouts, and a gaggle of would-be customers. At the table on the right was one mom, one girl in uniform, and no customers.
I chose the door on the right.
When I reached the table, the little girl stepped forward and deftly blocked my path.
“Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?” she intoned. The mom, also in uniform, beamed proudly.
“How about this,” I said, fishing out my wallet. “I’ll make a donation, but you keep the cookies.”
The little girl looked to be seven or eight. I handed her four dollars, which she placed in a cigar box on the table.
“Angela, thank the gentleman for his donation,” said the mom.
Angela meekly thanked me.
“We get the money, and we still have the cookies,” said the mom. “You can’t beat that!”
“I’m on a diet,” I explained.
“Angela,” said the mom, “Tell the gentleman why we’re selling cookies and raising money.”
Angela looked at her blankly.
“Tell the gentleman we’re all going to Savannah to visit the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts.”
“Oh, yeah, Savannah,” said Angela. She turned to me to relay the information.
“And tell the gentleman,” Mom interrupted, “What else we do with the money we raise.”
Angela looked puzzled again. She frowned and pursed her lips in concentration.
“Tell the gentleman we make a donation to the Humane Society of Jackson County.”
“Oh, yeah, the animals,” said Angela.
The mom decided to address me directly. “We’re raising money for a trip to Savannah to see the home of Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.”
Angela broke into a run and dashed off to the other table. The mom continued.
“Going to Savannah is our pilgrimage to Mecca. It’s a great experience for the girls.”
“My family is from Savannah,” I said. “My aunt lives there in an old neighborhood called Gordonston, which years ago was the family farm where Juliette grew up.”
I was going to mention that my grandfather once worked for Juliette’s daddy, General William Washington Gordon II, but I let it go.
“So you know the history,” said the mom. “That’s wonderful.”
“Well, I know about the Gordons and the Lows. When Juliette died, she set up a trust to build a small park in Gordonston, as a family memorial. The park is half a block from my aunt’s house. It’s about 9 or 10 acres. Beautiful place.”
Angela returned at high speed, accompanied by another giggling little girl in uniform.
“I’ve heard of that park,” said the mom, “Maybe we can see it on this trip.”
“Just so you’ll know, the Gordonston residents are very possessive about the park,” I said. “They claim Juliette intended it for the residents of Gordonston. People in the surrounding neighborhoods say she meant it to be a public park, for all of Savannah.”
“So, who’s right?”
“The lawyers haven’t decided. The original trust papers aren’t exactly clear.”
“Well,” the mom said with a hint of indignation, “Surely a group of Girl Scouts would be welcome at the park.”
“I’m sure they would,” I said. “From what I know about it, the residents have two real complaints: outsiders who take their dogs to the park and let them run loose, and teenagers who gather there at night to party. That’s when they call the police.”
Angela, who had been listening quietly, tugged at her mother’s arm.
“Mom,” she said anxiously, “I don’t want to go to Savannah if the police will arrest us!”