See photos from the Crookston Eagles' store-front window display honoring National Girl Scouts Week, too.
Patricia Williams of Crookston says her mother was “quite the gal.” In fact, her mother, Julia Mathison, was one of Minneapolis’ original girl scouts joining in 1915. Williams told the Times she was recently given a copy of an article published in the Minneapolis Tribune about her mother’s time in Girl Scouts. In the article, it also talks about her mother's time as a clown who once looked after three elephants.
Williams, who says that she lived above the Crookston Times in the upstairs apartments before a fire destroyed the top floors, said she was never a Girl Scout herself but her sisters probably were. She added that her mother, besides being an original Girl Scout and a clown, was quite the dancer and had “out-danced” the GoGo girls at the former Diamond bar where the Golden Link Senior Center sits now.
“She wasn’t one to sit around,” Williams recalled.
In honor of National Girl Scouts Week, here’s the Tribune story about Mathison, an original Girl Scout:
Original Girl Scout Is Now Busy Great-Grandmother
By Jacqueline Andre
Minneapolis Tribune Staff Writer
One of the original Minneapolis Girls Scouts learned from her scouting experiences to keep busy and last year, 62 and a great-grandmother, she was busiest.
She donned a pair of oversized shoes, a polka dot suit, a white skull cap with feathers, faces - happy and sad - and trooped around the country as a slow with a friend’s circus (Community Circus) making children laugh.
Mrs. Julia Payette Mathison, 3451 Lee Av, N., Robinsdale, was a member of the original Girl Scout troop founded by Marjorie Edgar. Mrs. Mathison joined White Rose Troop No. 1 in 1915 at a time when a girls activities were limited.
Mrs. Mathison recalls vividly activities of her troop: “birding,” learning first aid, hiking, cooking, putting on home shows, caroling, making food baskets for the poor at Thanksgiving and camping.
“We took a train to Nine Mile Creek (now Bloomington), set up tents in a cow pasture, gathered wood and cooked our meals over a fire. If it rained, we put a tarp over the fire and cooked. We had no flashlights - just kerosene lanterns. It was pretty wild and rugged,” she said.
This was before the day of hamburgers and hot dogs.
Mrs. Mathison and fellow campers fixed and ate bacon, pancakes, fried eggs, and dried fruit and drank cocoa own their outings.
“Our biggest problem was finding places to camp,” she said. “No one could understand what women were doing camping.” Another problem was keeping cows out of our food.”
Bloomers or slacks for women were unheard of then. Whether camping or caroling, Girl Scouts wore heavy blue cotton blouses or skirts, a round hat and a tie.
Mrs. Mathison has always followed the Girl Scout premise of doing good deeds. Last year she did her ”good deed a day” clowning smiles onto the children up and down the west coast and across the southwest.
She became a clown quite accidentally while visiting her circus-owner friend.
“The circus needed a slow to perform for some children with cerebral palsy. Someone looked at me and said, ‘You’d make a clown.”
So for a year the great grandmother blew up balloons and produced magic tricks - sometimes three times a day. Her clown shoes are dusty but she can still kick up her heels and go into her dance routine with proficiency.
Besides clowning, Mrs. Mathison, who lived and traveled in a trailer, did other circus chores. She even fed and tended three elephants “to see that they didn’t eat everything in sight - including clothes and brooms.”
Did scouting help?
“Well, I had to be prepared - be ready for anything,” She said.
Mrs. Mathison, a widow, is a woman who claims every day has been a happy one because, “you never know what the next one will be.”