Many pages could be written on the history of Wayne Girl Scout Troop 131, one of the oldest in the Philadelphia Council. However, this brief article endeavors to chronicle only the very beginnings of this troop, whose charter dates back 40 years ago this April.
A record book of Troop 131, made up of early troop minutes, old pictures and newspaper clippings, was kept for many years by Miss Myra Paxton, now Mrs. Elliston J. Morris, Jr., of St. Davids. The first page contains brief minutes of the first meeting, “On Friday, March 23 (1917), six girls met to organize the Wayne Troop of Girl Scouts. It was decided that Miss Nancy S. Hallowell be captain and that a charter be obtained for the troop.”
At the second meeting on April 6, “It was decided to invite the girls of the sixth, seventh and eighth grades of The Radnor Grammar School to join the troop the following Friday, at 2:30 in St. Mary’s parish house, Wayne. All subsequent meetings to be held Friday, at the same time and place until school closed for the summer, when a new time would be decided upon.”
Enthusiasm ran high in the newly-formed troop. By the next meeting, the much prized charter, now carefully preserved in the troop records, was on exhibition. Captain Hallowell was joined by Lieut. Margarette Tingley and membership had grown to 23. Part of the business meeting was the pledge of allegiance, after which the Scout Laws and requirements for a tenderfoot scout were explained. Patrol leaders were elected and dues of ten cents a month were decided upon.
At the meeting a week later “patriotism was discussed and tying knots was practiced.” Next on the program was a hike to the woods near St. Davids, where eager young scouts “picked flowers and looked for birds.” After that they “returned to the school campus where the salute to the flag was given.” At another meeting “the uses of triangular bandages were explained and practiced… drills and setting up exercises took place.
By early May, the group took an active part in a pageant given at the Saturday Club for the Wayne Branch, American Red Cross when, dressed as nurses of that national organization, they acted as ushers, took enrollments and served tea; proving that “a Girl Scout is useful and helps others.”
This troop of young girls was also very active in the sale of war bonds, canvassing not only homes in the Wayne – St. Davids – Radnor area, but also met trains at the station and solicited sales at the bank. The total of their subscriptions reached an amazing $16,000.
Much of the early success of this troop may be attributed to the leader, Miss Hallowell, whose untimely death saddened the whole community. One of her outstanding achievements with the troop was swimming instruction for each girl. This was done on the lake at “Walmarthon,” the former Walton estate, now Eastern Baptist College, St. Davids.
Throughout the ensuing years, many Scouts have made their way through the ranks of Troop 131, under the guidance of many fine leaders from the time of Miss Hallowell, to the present leadership of Mr. John Dunlap, of Villanova.