Scanning Around With Gene: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouts

I was the younger brother of two Girl Scouts, with a mother who served as a troupe leader. So I was dragged along to a lot of Girl Scout activities, most of which I remember being rather fun. We went ice skating, we toured local factories (okay, it was just a big bakery and an ice-cream plant) and we went camping a few times. I don’t think my sisters were Girl Scouts for very long, but it seemed like a lifetime to me.

These days the Girl Scouts are heavily into selling cookies, but a few decades ago they also sold a quite-nice calendar every year with a different monthly full-color picture of girls engaged in Girl Scout activities. I remember we had them a few years in a row placed above the phone in the kitchen, but I’m sure my mother hated them because there wasn’t enough room for writing. Today’s images are from two Girl Scout calendars dated 1953 and 1954. Click on any image for a larger version.

The other thing I remember fondly about the Girl Scouts was the “Girl Scout Coffee Cake” we had every Sunday morning, fresh-baked from a yellow-and-green cookbook adorned with the Girl Scout clover logo. It was made with Bisquick and lots of brown sugar as I recall, but at least it came out of the oven and not the freezer, which is where most of the food was stored in my house.

And I particularly remember one camping trip (“camping” really meant sleeping inside a cabin on cots), because I dropped my prized pocket knife in the stream when I was trying to retrieve a watermelon placed there for cooling. It was hard to enjoy the ice-cold watermelon after losing the knife, my first ever.

Of course back then I had no idea what the Girls Scouts were all about – I just knew they had uniforms and got badges for accomplishing things, which seemed pretty cool. I don’t remember my sisters being particularly aggressive about merit badges – other girls had a lot more.

But I did a little research for today’s images and discovered the Girls Scouts are still going strong (3.2 million in the U.S.) and they are big on diversity and inclusion, trying to make it easy for girls of all backgrounds to get involved.

You can be a Girl Scout and not believe in God if you want, and the organization takes no views on sexuality or sexual preferences – they consider that a private matter between girls and their families. And it was one of the earlier organizations of its type to desegregate.

I have no idea what a modern Girl Scout troop is like – probably pretty sophisticated and tech-savvy. But I hope they still sit around and giggle a lot like my sisters and their friends did back when I was lurking about.

Ultimately I’m for anything that builds character in a good way and promotes values like being kind, tolerant, and resourceful. Plus, the Girls Scouts know how to make a killer coffee cake, and that makes them okay in my book. Congratulations on making it to 100.

Posted on: August 24, 2012

Gene Gable

Gene Gable has spent a lifetime in publishing, editing and the graphic arts and is currently a technology consultant and writer. He has spoken at events around the world and has written extensively on graphic design, intellectual-property rights, and publishing production in books and for magazines such as Print, U&lc, ID, Macworld, Graphic Exchange, AGI, and The Seybold Report. Gene's interest in graphic design history and letterpress printing resulted in his popular columns "Heavy Metal Madness" and "Scanning Around with Gene" here on

1 Comment on Scanning Around With Gene: Celebrating 100 Years of Girl Scouts

  1. Try making Kruskeaz’s Cinnamon Coffee Cake. You can find it in some stores. Delicious. Love looking at the old photos, too.

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