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Jackson led first local Girl Scout troop

By Kay Pedrotti Several of Barnesville’s first Girl Scouts, members of a troop formed in the early 1930s by Louise Jackson, recently marked the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting by visiting their troop leader. *************** ©The Herald Gazette/ This information may not be reprinted, broadcast or distributed electronically in any form or fashion without express consent. For reprint permission, e-mail *************** Louise Jackson, who is five years older than the Girl Scout organization, was Barnesville’s first Girl Scout leader. Jackson lives now at Heritage Inn, attended every day by her local children, Dr. Holland Jackson and Nancy Thomas. The scouts who were contacted or present are all in their late 80s, and some turn 90 this year. Mrs. Jackson was presented a vase of flowers by Peggy Tyus O’Dell, one of the Scouts. One or two Girl Scouts said they feel she knows who they are, though her children say she has problems remembering people. All her former troop members have high praise for her dedication to the GS character-building goals, and her love for all the girls who were with her for many years. O’Dell remembers ‘working on badges’ at meetings in Jackson’s home once a week after school. At that time, badges were sewn on the uniform sleeves; sashes for that purpose came later. ‘We had wonderful experiences, walking in the woods, learning to make fires, doing skits,’ O’Dell said. She joined three of her fellow Scouts in saying camping trips to Taylor Springs near Thomaston were the highlights of their scouting experiences. Not all the young Scouts were overjoyed to be away from home and parents. Homesickness usually was more present than absent. Frances Stanfield West of Atlanta had a toothache and got to go home one night early — at least one Scout confessed she wanted to go with West. Limited visits from parents were permitted, but O’Dell says she cried quietly so everyone would think she was ‘a big girl.’ A Barnesville scout who could not be reached is Rebecca Smith Graham. Jane Mangham Meixel said Jackson ‘really made an impression on us.’ The Scouts were 10 to 12 years old, and needed the kind of example and activities Mrs. Jackson provided. She remembers she had four plaques for outstanding work; the troop awarded them for various skills, like cooking or athletics. Meixel met her husband George when he was a cadet at Gordon Military. He was in service after they married and the couple lived many places, ending his career in Tallahassee, Fla. ’I told him one day, ‘˜we don’t even have a cousin here — let’s go back to Barnesville,’ so we did. I guess that’s backwards because most people seem to retire to Florida,’ Meixel said. Betty Smith Crawford of Barnesville was so impressed by Mrs. Jackson’s work that she couldn’t wait to join. She remembers she was 12 years old and determined to join the troop; but the day she went to the Jackson home, Mrs. Jackson told her she was suspending troop activities because she was pregnant with the baby who would be her son Billy Jackson of Atlanta. Crushingly disappointed because she would ‘age out’ of Scouts before the troop resumed, Crawford had to wait 20 years to be connected with Girl Scouting. ’One day in the 1950s, Virginia Dennis called me and said for me and Jean Kennedy to be at the Methodist church at 4 p.m., she had something for us,’ Crawford remembers. ‘We got there to see 26 little girls, including my daughter Cathy and Jean’s daughter Marisue. Virginia said, ‘˜Here’s your Girl Scout troop,’ and she left. I didn’t see any way to say no to those girls, so I was a leader for 26 years with the girls and 16 years with Boy Scouts. We had the best times — I wouldn’t take anything for those experiences.’ Nancy Thomas says she was very young when she would ‘make faces at the Scouts’ while they tried to have troop activities. She later learned how much positive influence her mother had on local girls and is very proud of that record. Holland Jackson, who was a dentist in Barnesville for 50 years, also had a lengthy career as a tagalong with the Girl Scouts. He enjoyed the swimming the most too, he said. Mrs. Jackson’s husband, the late J.H. Jackson Sr., was a medical doctor for 50 years in Barnesville. She seemed to enjoy seeing the Scouts; when asked if she remembered being a Girl Scout leader, she said, ‘That was a very long time ago.’

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