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On my honor, I will try... - Denese Rodgers

When I was in the first grade, I remembered my parents saying that it was OK for me to join the Brownie Scouts.

Being a tad precocious, I took it to heart, and when they made the announcement for Brownies to meet in the lobby at school, I went along.

We went out to a church somewhere in Riverdale and had a great old time. We ate cookies, drank Kool-Aid, and drew pictures. When it came time for all of the other girls' mommies to pick them up, it occurred to one mom that I was still sitting there.

She asked me my name, and if I knew my address. I piped up the entire litany of who I was, who my parents were, and where we lived. She asked if mom knew that I was at the Brownie meeting. I said I didn't think so, because I hadn't told her where I was.

This was way before cellphones, so that wasn't an option. Because I knew my address, the nice lady drove me home (where I found out that I was at the wrong Brownie meeting). Kids think in terms of black and white, and it simply never occurred to me that there might be more than one meeting.

The funny thing was that the Scouting motto is "Be Prepared." Because my parents had me to memorize my address and phone number, I was able to get home. I truly never panicked, because I knew who I was and where I was supposed to be. If all else failed, I could call home (I still remember 478-6092) and somebody would come get me.

Maybe that was the trigger event that kept me from becoming a weak, whiny female. I don't even have any patience with them. When the Brownies were first formed in 1914, they were originally called the "Rosebuds."

Ew yuck. Puke.

I would have never wanted to sign on to be a "Rosebud." I loved being a Brownie. We had tough little uniforms with patches and a sash. I even beat up a boy while I was wearing my Brownie uniform one time in the fourth grade. I got a spanking for it and a lecture: "Denese, it's not nice for Brownies to beat up boys."

I still remember his name, but I don't want to call him out - it might still be a sore spot for him.

I went on from being a Brownie to being a Girl Scout, but, then, I discovered boys and bell bottom blue jeans. I know that I've still got my old uniforms somewhere in the top of mom's attic. I'd love to see them now to get a perspective on how little I used to be. In my own mind, I've always been ten feet tall and bulletproof. I think the reality falls a bit short of that. I know also that I still have my manuals somewhere around. That may or may not be a good thing.

I was trying for a camping badge one time, and I tried to make a camp stove out of a coffee can. I read all the instructions, and built the fire in our sandbox for safety.

The one part I didn't think of -- after I poked the holes in the coffee can and turned it upside down over the fire -- it got really hot. I burned the snot out of my fingers, and had to use the chapter on first aid to hide the fact that I had been playing with fire without adult supervision.

Now I've got to make sure I've fessed up to that before Mom sees this column.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.