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Juliet Gordon Low’s Little Known Life before Girl Scouts

August 18, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

 

Gordon Mansion and Gardens, Savannah, GA

Gordon Mansion and Gardens, Savannah, GA

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, an organization I participated in for many years. In fact, so did my Mother and now my granddaughter. I recently had the opportunity to visit Savannah, Georgia and see where Girl Scouting began.  This article tells “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say.

 

Juliet Gordon Low, known as Daisy, was born and raised in a stately home on Savannah’s Oglethorpe Avenue. She lived a privileged lifestyle and was a talented artist and sculptor. As a young girl she was somewhat of a tomboy and later became active into sports.  Juliet’s former home (open for tours)  is decorated much as it was for her wedding in 1880.

 

Juliet Gordon Low's Birthplace

Juliet Gordon Low’s Birthplace

Unfortunately Juliet’s marriage to wealthy cotton merchant William Mackay Low was not a blissful one, a fact the Girl Scouts gently overlook, but not Sellers and Higgins. The eccentric pair of tour guides are known for telling hush-hush, behind the scenes Savannah stories. They explained Juliet’s complicated life while on a walking tour.

 

Sellers and Higgins

Sellers and Higgins

Juliet and her husband moved to England after their wedding and William turned out to be a womanizer and partygoer.  He kept a mistress and brazenly brought her into their marital home.  Juliet, needless to say, wasn’t pleased with the arrangement and divorce was considered.  Fortuitously, dear William suddenly died. Juliet later learned that he changed his will and left the bulk of his immense wealth to his mistress.

 

Widow Juliet traveled in England and then returned to Savannah after meeting Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts.  She was so impressed with his program she chose to start a similar group for girls. She wanted to foster ways for them to build character and learn new skills.

 

The Girl Scout Organization declares that it all began with a telephone call to a friend (a distant cousin).  Juliet told her, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and the entire world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” On March 12, 1912, Juliette Low gathered 18 girls to register the first troop of American Girl Guides. Margaret “Daisy Doots” Gordon, her niece and namesake, was the first registered member. The name of the organization was changed to Girl Scouts the following year.

 

Juliet wanted scouts should be rewarded for their efforts with badges and that idea still encourages girls to learn and try new activities.  Originally scouts could earn 29 badges but today the number runs to 139.  The organization has wisely kept pace with changing trends and scouts can now experiment and earn badges for digital movie making, geocaching, website design and locovore — a fresh take on the old cooking badge.  No wonder Girl Scouting has remained popular.

 

I recall earning the cooking badge and decided to dig through my old childhood memorabilia. I didn’t find my old badge sash, but found a few other treasures. Below are photos of my Mom and her sister at Girl Scout camp in 1936 and one of me leaving for Girl Scout camp in 1960.  The colorful photo shows my granddaughter, Kyra, who started as a Daisy Scout and “flew up” (a Girl Scout term) to become a Brownie in a  troop in Medford, New Jersey.

 

Kyra with her Brownie Badge Sash

Kyra with her Brownie Badge Sash

Juliet’s home now acts like a pilgrimage site for scouts around the world,  but my visit gave me an understanding for the woman who was just a name in my past. That type of learning is one of the benefits travel brings me and one I hope I  share.

Debi goes to Girl Scout Camp 1960

Girl Scout Camp 1936

Girl Scout Camp 1936

Girl Scout Camp 1936

Girl Scout Camp 1936

The Green Palm Inn: Savannah, Georgia

March 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Green Palm Inn: Savannah, Georgia 

Entrance to The Green Palm Inn

A Hotel Review

 

In colonial America, hostesses set out a fresh pineapple, a prized and valuable commodity, when visitors joined them.  Over the years, the pineapple came to symbolize hospitality. Today we recognize all sorts of symbols such as the Nike swoosh meaning Just Do It or the green and white Starbucks cup of coffee. To me, a palm tree seems to say oasis: a respite from the sun, a place to fall asleep and a place to nourish our bodies. Certainly palm trees have provided coconuts to sustain the lives of many.

 

So, it is no surprise that the Green Palm Inn in Savannah, Georgia uses the palm tree as a symbol, or that the Inn offers the finest shelter or lodgings and scrumptious breakfasts and snacks around. It’s a true oasis.

Innkeeper, Diane McCray

The Green Palm Inn is owned by Diane and Gary Crews, but let’s gives Diane credit; she runs the place because Gary’s job often takes him away. As Innkeeper, Diane welcomes guests like family, sits down with them and introduces her southern city. Diane is a prized pineapple; she is hospitality personified. She’ll provide you will a cool drink,  share her knowledge of history, and whisper insider tips, like the best tour guides, shuttle services, taxi drivers and restaurants..

 

I stayed in the Green Palm’s elegant Sable Palm Suite which could easily be a honeymoon haven. The gorgeous carved four-poster king-size bed makes a bold statement and commands your attention. You need a step stool to climb onto the elevated bed. There’s a bounty of pillows and high thread count linens to caress your skin with the softest touch.

King Sized Bed in the Sable Palm Suite

Talk about romance, this suite has two fireplaces; one near the bed and the other in the bathroom. I also enjoyed the large open seating area with a settee, chair and antique wardrobe. But, you’ve got a modern small refrigerator in the corner and coffee machine.

 

Diane bakes extraordinary breakfast selections, a meal that will keep you going as you walk around Savannah’s streets, gardens and squares. The sensuous city drips with Spanish moss hanging from live oak trees, many over a hundred years old. Fountains are everywhere and provide a cool touch, even on a hot day.

 

More than likely you will return to the Green Palm in the late afternoon and find refreshments- freshly baked cookies or sweets, perhaps cheese and crackers, lemonade and wine. You can sit and chat with the other guests in the parlor or take your goblet up to your room for some quiet time.

 

 

The Green Palm Inn is cozy with just four rooms and also quiet. It’s just steps from Green Square (how appropriate is that) but actually named for Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene and sits about four blocks from the riverfront. Should you choose to walk to this touristy area instead of the historic downtown, you are ideally situated.

 

 

The rates are remarkable low for a top of the line Bed and Breakfast and once you stay, you will return and likely tell others. Just be sure to book your room well in advance because the reputation of this oasis in Savannah is spreading

 

Forsyth Park Fountain in the early morning

For information on The Green Palm Inn please visit:

www.SavannahInns.com

www.GreenPalmInn.com

Parlor- Green Palm Inn, Savannah, GA

 For information about Savannah: www.VisitSavannah.com

Savannah Buzz: A Luscious Lesson about Bees

March 20, 2012 by · Comments Off on Savannah Buzz: A Luscious Lesson about Bees 

Honey Bees on my Hand

Cradling a handful of bees on the palm of my hand was a honey of a delight, one I will never forget. The little ladies gently crawled over my fingers and hand, tickling me with their feather-light touch. They didn’t  sting , but stayed busy producing nectar and collecting pollen which provides important cross pollination for many plants. Every few seconds one or two of the female worker bees would fly off to return to their job in the hive.

I had the rare opportunity to visit the hives belonging to Savannah Bee Company with the calm and compassionate owner,  Ted Dennard.  First, Ted led my group on a tour of the manufacturing plant where we saw honey being bottled, labeled and sealed into jars.

Then, I donned a beekeeper’s veil, a mesh helmet that keeps out insects but lets air circulate. We walked to the hives, in this case, wooden boxes filled with removable sections. Each section contains honeycombs which are supported on wood and wire frames.Beekeeper's Veil

Filling the honey jars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A smoker, a metal can containing burnable leaves was lit and smoke was aimed toward the hive.  Ted explained that when bees smell smoke, they gorge themselves on honey and are less likely to sting.

The Smoker

Each hive contains a large group or colony consisting of around 30,000 bees.  There are just three types of honey bees: workers, drones, and queens. The workers are the smallest and they are all females. They make the honey, clean the hive, feed larvae (baby bees), and build the wax comb. In summer, workers live about six weeks spending their first three weeks as a house bee and the next three as a field bee.

Approximately one hundred drones or males live in each colony. They mate with the queen. Drones live for about eight weeks during warm months. These males usually leave the colony in the fall and die.

The largest bee is the queen and each colony has only one queen whose most important function is to lay eggs.  A healthy queen can live up to four years and lay over one million eggs during her lifetime.

A Bee Hive

Honeycomb on a Frame

Ted lifted the wooden lid on the hive and then used a tool to pry apart the frames. He carefully lifted one out to show us the bees at work. These insects were so diligent to their job,  they didn’t seem to notice our presence. We could clearly identify those bringing in pollen, those storing pollen, those making honey and those dancing. Dances tell other bees where flowers are located. Typically a round dance says that flowers are nearby and a tail-wagging dance speaks of flowers in the distance.  Here’s the most amazing thing:  the direction of the tail-wagging dances show the location of the flowers in relation to the sun, and the number of waggle runs per fifteen seconds indicates the distance. What brilliant bees!

Bees at Work

My admiration for those tiny creatures was growing the more I learned. Just think: bees visit over two million flowers to make a pound of honey. My taste buds got the chance to be favorably impressed. Ted allowed me to stick my finger into the honeycomb and taste of the warm oozing gel- the sweetest, soothing food of the best kind.

I Love Honey Bees

Since the little darlings seemed to be so cooperative and had not stung anyone, I decided to let Ted place a group in my hands. Mind you, like most people I am fearful around bees and have felt the painful ouch of a sting many times.  But, I was up for the new adventure. Ted scooped some up on the tool and transferred them onto my hand. The little ladies danced a ballet as if choreographed by the great Balanchine himself.  There was no frenzy akin to the tune Flight of the Bumblebee.  Instead, they tip toed and pirouetted more of an adagio, as if they heard a slow serenade of Georgia on my Mind.

Tasting Honey straight from the Hive

In that moment I experienced the profound wonder of bees and understood the intense labor these tiny beings expend to produce the luscious treat. Thank you Ted and Savannah Bee Company for showing me the good (and definitely not any evil) within the sensuous city and gardens of Savannah. And, thank you honey bees of the world for helping sustain so much on Mother Earth.

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