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At 6 A. M., I awoke with this uplifting dream: 

It is evening. I stop by the recovery center and discover it vacated, in disorder: ashtrays filled with cigarette and cigar butts, food remnants spoiling on plates and bowls, magazines and silverware strewn on the floor, armchairs pulled from tables stained with water and carved initials, rain splatting window sills, damp carpet beginning to smell. On my own, I decide to clean up the place and locate a bucket, mops, rags, and cleaning agents near the kitchen. Not sure where everything goes, I’ll have to guess. Later, everything is in order. I’m proud of my work and return home.

Again, in the dream, energetic and strong, I find myself in the foyer of the recovery center; its depths prod me to the disorder therein, shadow material, of which I’m unaware: pride, anger, greed, and envy, in all its expressions; shadow material triggered by others. On my own, I remain largely content. Since no one is around to help with this Herculean task, it’s up to me to remedy this deplorable situation.

But my discovery of tools: a bucket, mops, rags, and cleaning agents, near the kitchen, evidence an invisible helper—Perhaps the kitchen’s fire that animates my labor. Strange that I seem to know what to tackle next and do so.

The resulting shine within the recovery center, a sacred place of healing,will greet its guests in the morrow. I’m proud of my work.

This blog’s contrast with “The Unsettling Dream” of a few days ago suggests my fickleness in fully embracing the gentle discipline of the arduous path opening before of me—More correction for which I’m grateful.

“There are three good reasons to buy Girl Scout cookies,” so belted out my great niece-entrepreneur with the red braid and wine-colored glove raised in salute. With her, stands another Junior Girl Scout buddy in fourteen degrees weather in front of the West St. Paul Walmart. “Besides, they’re yummy!” she said, holding up a box of Mint Thins.”

Mary is also standing within a time-honored tradition, the Girl Scouts of America, spelled out in its Promise:  

On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country,
to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.

And its accompanying Law, both composed by its founder Juliette Gordon Low:

I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

In 1917, five years after the foundation of the GSA, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, began baking and selling cookies to raise money. Today, its profits supplement three core structures: the NYC national office, Girl Scout Councils, and individual troops. Development of character, confidence, and courage activate the full potential of these young members. My great niece already brims with gusto. What will she become?

The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers. The Girl Scout Handbook.

Ariadne Lawnin (1840 – 1915), the foundress of the St. Louis Women’s Exchange came from simple beginnings. When three years old, though, her life changed with the death of her father, then, cultivating his one-hundred-acres near Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis, Missouri. Thereupon, her mother sold the farm and moved Ariadne and her brother to a respectable boarding house, 141 North 13th Street, in the city. Into this same boarding house later came Joseph Montalte Lawnin from Montreal, a self-taught carpenter who was to establish his own lucrative boat building and lumber company in St.Louis. In 1861 he and Ariadne were married.

At that time, an oval portrait of Ariadne showed her russet-brown hair, a square jaw with the hint of a smile, wearing an off-the-shoulder crimson gown.

Besides raising their two sons, Albert and Louis, volunteer activities filled her time: chaperoning young women at boat races on Creve Coeur Lake, heading up the International Tea party held at the Pickwick Theater, and planning the Amory Fete. But serving on the board of the recently founded Women’s Christian Association fueled her passion for boarding working women in safe surroundings, with classes offered in cooking and industrialized sewing. However, this venture eventually folded for lack of financial support.

But Ariadne and her friends were not daunted. Stories of the Women’s Exchanges in eastern cities prompted them to raise the $1,000 needed to set up their own. To accomplish this, they held riverboat races, persuaded local merchants to donate silverware, woodenware, a stove, and foodstuffs to stock the pantry, and more cash. On September 27, 1883, the St. Louis Women’s Exchange opened its doors at 214 North 7th Street, between Olive and Pine, the first of its eventual seven locations.

That first year the volunteers served more than 1,500 lunches to the “industrial women” from factories around the area and reimbursed over $1,400 to its consignors from the sales of their stitching.

Happily, Ariadne’s vision for this fledgling business has inspired her successors—all volunteers—to support The St. Louis Women’s Exchange for one hundred and thirty-three years. We still benefit from the tasty meals and one-of-a kind-handmade goods, now located in the Colonel Marketplace in Ladue, Missouri.

 

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