Never out of style Gladys Crowl still has her 1939 Girl Scout uniform

By on March 7, 2012

By: LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Gladys Crowl proudly displays her Girl Scout uniform from the earliest days of Scouting in Lititz.

Gladys Fry Crowl could probably still wear her old Girl Scout uniform.

"I think it might fit," says Crowl, adding that she vividly recalls wearing the dusky green uniform back in 1939 at the Fourth of July festivities.

Despite the fact that the brand new Girl Scout uniforms were about to come out a few weeks later, Crowl wore her old-fashioned box pleat outfit, which had first been introduced in 1928. She was going to represent the Girl Scouts at the Fourth of July festivities and wanted to be in uniform…

"Even if it was soon to be outdated," she laughs now, some 72 years later.

As the Girls Scouts celebrate their 100th anniversary this year, Crowl is glad she kept her old uniform. It meant a lot to her back then, and even more today.

"I was 11 or 12, in sixth grade (when I joined)," says Crowl, now 85.

A member of Katy Mathers Sunday school class at Trinity E.C. Church in Lititz, Crowl joined Troop 15, which was associated with the church and founded in February of 1938. The leaders were sisters Mabel and Alice Hull, and the troop of some 30 to 35 girls met at the American Legion building on South Broad Street.

"I wasn’t the best Girl Scout there was," admits Crowl. "I didn’t get to all the meetings, because I liked working at my father’s car business."

Crowl’s father was W.B. Fry, who owned the Pontiac dealership on East Main Street in Lititz, and the Fry children, including Gladys and her sister Ruth, often worked at the business.

Crowl does recall when a terrible blizzard canceled plans to attend a Valentine’s Day party that the Girl Scouts were holding. That was Feb. 14, 1940. Her grandfather passed away that same evening.

She also recalls that she and other Girl Scouts got their uniforms at Hager’s Department Store in downtown Lancaster. That was the only place where they could be purchased, and as Crowl added, they were fairly expensive.

"You needed the accessories too," she said, explaining that scarves, green sashes, belts, hats and even socks were part of the ensemble.

Crowl talked her parents into buying her a pair of official Girl Scout socks, which she wore for many, many years.

She still has that uniform, with its box pleats and in perfect condition. Introduced in 1928, the uniform was made of gray-green cotton with an orange-red neckerchief. The box pleats were called "action pleats" and were on each side. The dress was long, falling to mid-calf. The girls wore a soft, crushable deep green felt hat embroidered with the official Girl Scout trefoil logo.

When the new uniforms came out in 1939, Crowl loved the new look. The crisp silver-green uniform was more stylish, with unstitched darts at the waistline in front and back, and a youthful sports collar fitted with a zipper at the neck opening. The six-gore skirt was in the popular A-line style, which provided a more flattering fit.

"It was much nicer looking and fit so much better," says Crowl, who never got a new uniform.

She continued to wear her old uniform as long as she was a Girl Scout, during which time she earned three badges — one for reading, another for first aid and a third for history. Even today, Crowl is active at the public library, loves to read, has been honored for her community service and is a town historian involved with the Lititz Historical Foundation.

"I haven’t changed much," she said.

After Scouting and high school, she went on to earn her B.S. degree in biology and chemistry at Dickinson College and became a biochemist for the Wilbur-Suchard chocolate company in Lititz. Later, she worked as a bookkeeper for the family business and married her husband, Ed Crowl, who is now deceased.

As a Girl Scout, Crowl has fond memories of camping at Seibert’s Meadow off of Clay Road, when the girls brought blankets and slept under the stars. They made the mistake of climbing the farmer’s haystacks and ended up being treated for cuts and scratches with lots of mercurochrome ointment.

They went to Hershey Park and rode the train. They also visited Philadelphia, touring the Betsy Ross House and enjoying a stop at the Horn & Hardart food automat.

Most of all, Crowl remembers the great friendships that started when she was just a young girl. Arlene Miller Bajkowski is still a close friend (see her Girl Scout photos in our special Girl Scout section, in this week’s Record Express). Kathryn Hellman Diffenderfer and Dorothy Dowhower Kellner were also good friends, along with many others. When Crowl saw the old picture of her troop, she decided to try to name everyone. She knows most of the names, even today.

"I’m glad I kept my old uniform," she said. "It brings back good memories."

She is also pleased that the Girl Scouts have named 2012 the Year of the Girl in honor of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary, and recognizing the leadership potential of young women. Founded in 1912 by Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low in Savannah, Ga., Girl Scouts of the USA is the leading development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Gladys Crowl was one of the first to don the uniform for Lititz, way back in the days of the Great Depresssion. More GIRL SCOUT, page A15 See special section on Girl Scouts’ 100th

anniversary in this week’s issue.

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