Spring may be officially here, but it’s cold and rainy today. A good time to go through the spare room closet and get bring some fresh order to the organizational entropy that has occurred in there over time. In the process I looked through one box that had a lot of family memorabilia, and found my old Girl Scout uniform sash. I think that’s where my love affair with patches began. And even after all these decades, I still feel cheated out of the last three Girl Scout “badges” I earned and never got because (for some reason now lost to time) our troop disbanded before I could actually get them in my hot little hands. I don’t even remember what they were for; I just remember I didn’t get them!
There’s my city (Detroit) and troop number, and a red Cardinal at the top. Perhaps that was the troop mascot. Cardinals have been a kind of totemic bird for me throughout my life, so it wouldn’t surprise me. Then there are some pins and other insignia, and then the good stuff – the badges! I can see I had a tent (camping skills, no doubt), a treble clef (music), a jar of tools (do-it-yourself for beginners?), a Scottie dog head on a red Maltese cross (I think that was pet care), a fishfly (insect identification), an painter’s palette (art), and lastly, a shoe and pumpkin for…I’m almost certain this had something to do with learning “good grooming” – 1950s style. Probably involved pin curls, and cold cream. No wonder I’ve blocked it out. I used to watch my mother put that lard-look-alike stuff on her face every night, and when she playfully put some on my face, I immediately detested it. That alone should earn a girl a badge – for not gagging! Anyway, the choice to use the Cinderella references seems kind of bizarre to me today. Personally, I’d rather clean out the hearth after a nice crackling fire than go to a ball any day of the week.
When I was in high school I had a ski jacket with patches from all the various Michigan ski hills I went to with my girlfriends. Skiing always scared me a little, to be honest. I’m not a speed person. In winter I’m the one out with snowshoes with a camera. So I was glad to leave skiing behind after graduation. I only did it under peer pressure, to hang with my friends, and for the patches. The whole point was to look cool when you wore the jacket when you weren’t on the slopes. I don’t know what happened to that jacket, but I wish I’d saved those patches.
Next up is my bird-watching kit bag, with room for binocs, field guide, camera, water bottle. Most of those patches are from my years in the west – travels around Alberta and British Columbia, plus a few other patches that caught my fancy, like a space shuttle launch, my favorite railways, and a trip to Point Pelee long before I ever thought of living here. It’s a visual history of places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen, and things that interest me. But now I’m out of room on the bag.
The two most recent patches I’ve picked up are a Beach Boys logo that went on a summer cap (thanks to Pearl and Sweeney for propping it up for the photo) but I still haven’t found a place for my Dharma Initiative patch from the TV show LOST. Maybe I should start a new jacket.