History of the Coaldale Brownies and Girl Scout Troops

History of the Coaldale Brownies and Girl Scout Troops
(Source: Bicentennial of the American Revolution, 1976, Coaldale, PA)

Scouting in Coaldale was started approximately forty years ago with an “Intermediate Troop.” Leaders were Mrs. James (Bessie) Leidich and Mrs. William (Laura) Davis. Mrs. Daniel (Martha) Ziegler remembers assisting these leaders as a volunteer committee helper. There was just one troop with nearly 120 girls. They paid 5 cents dues each week, met in the Coaldale School building, and went on hikes and doggie roasts in the wooded area back of Lehigh Street. This troop eventually disbanded because of lack of funds.

It seems that Coaldale was without scouts until 1954 when the first Brownie Troop—No. 112—was organized on April 29, with Leader Mrs. Benjamin (Margaret) Williams, Assistant Leader Mrs. William (Goldie) Jones and Intermediate Troop No. 111 with Leader Mrs. Clyde (Betty) Beury and Assistant Leader Mrs. Daniel (Martha) Zeigler. Other committee persons were Mrs. Randolph Harvey, Mrs. John Yankovich, Mrs. Michael Hedash, Mrs. Albert Kruper, Mrs. Palmer Evans, Mrs. Albert Hrapsky, Mrs. Paris DeSantis and Mrs. Michael Zemanik. These two troops met in the Coaldale High School Band room and were sponsored by the Business & Professional Women’s Club of Coaldale.

Troops No. 112 and No. 111 continued to remain active until 1957 with most of these same people plus Mrs. Harry Hoffa and Mrs. Olga Dally.

Records indicate that from 1957 to 1962 many changes were made in the leadership of the troops and more were added. Brownie Troop No. 73 with Leader Mrs. Alice Price; Brownie Troop No. 125, Leader Miss Mary Schilling; Brownie Troop No. 126, Leader Mrs. Ceilia Schilling; Intermediate Troop No. 136, Leader Mrs. Ida Biggans; Intermediate Troop No. 111, Leader Mrs. Aldona Mitchell; Intermediate Troop No. 42, Leader Mrs. Mary McHugh; Intermediate Troop No. 112, Leader Mrs. Marilyn Stack, Senior Troop No. 93, Leader Mrs. Mae DeSantis; and Senior Troop No. 122, Leaders Mrs. Goldie Jones, Mrs. Edith Evans and Mrs. Cred Harvey.

All of these troops were sponsored by the Business & Professional Women’s Club of Coaldale and they met in various places such as the Coaldale High School, Ben Willams’ home and St. Mary’s Church. Information obtained from newspaper clippings and banquet programs gives accounts of these troops camping at Camp Greenwood, enjoying a trip to Washington, DC, for three days, preparing CARE packages for overseas, and packing Welfare Boxes for the Salvation Army. They held bake sales, sold nuts, sponsored an International Friendship Dance at the VFW and also enjoyed annual scout banquets.

Other leaders added to Brownie Troop No. 125 during 1961 were Mrs. Isabelle Camerini, Mrs. Adele Yanalavage and Mrs. Millie Bottomley.

Again there seems to be a break in the scouting history of Coaldale when there were no troops until they re-organized in 1966 with an entirely new group of leaders and troops. By this time Girl Scouts itself had made changes in its structure of troops. There was no longer a Brownie, Intermediate and Senior group but now there were Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors.

Mrs. Bette Van Buren became leader of Brownie Troop No. 87 with Assistant Leader Mrs. Isabelle Camerini and committee ladies Mrs. Connie Nothstein, Mrs. Julia Boyle, and Miss Alberta Pius. Mrs. Catherine Price was leader of Brownie Troop No. 69 with Assistant Leader Mrs. Adela Lech, Mrs. Megan Reichelderfer, and Mrs. Irene Schock as committee ladies. Brownie Troop No. 69 was taken over by Miss Linda Richards as Leader and Mrs. Linda Murphy during the latter part of 1966. In 1966 there were also two Junior Troops – No. 104 with leader Mrs. Mary Fredericks, Assistant Mrs. Esther Sterzen and committee persons Mrs. Margaret Bonner and Mrs. Rose Zenzel. Also troop No. 112 with leader Mrs. Betty Murphy, Assistant Mrs. Olga Domin and committee ladies Mrs. Rita Firkal, Mrs. Ann Zubey, and Mrs. Gordon Ruslavage. Cadette Troop No. 117 with Mrs. Catherine Hedes Leader and Mrs. Betty Worholak Assistant Leader and Mrs. Elizabeth Paslowsky, Mrs. Ann Gallagher and Mrs. Ann Schad.

In 1967 and 1968 leaders made changes to other troops and more ladies volunteered their services. Mrs. Connie Nothstein became Brwonie Leader for Troop No. 87, Linda Richards remained leader for Brownie Troop No. 69. Mrs. Mary Fredericks was still leader of Junior troop No. 104 and Mrs. Bette Van Buren took over as leader of Junior Troop No. 112. A new Junior Troop No. 113 was started with leader Mrs. Catherine Price. The Cadette Troop remained the same with Mrs. Catherine Hedes as leader. The only change in Juniors was in Junior Troop No. 104, Mrs. Hilda Richards became leader with Assistant Mrs. Jean Welsh. Other volunteers that helped during these years were Mrs. Joan Cutler, Mrs. Josephine Konders, Mrs. Veronica Pillar, and Mrs. Betty Werley.

These troops were also sponsored by the Business & Professional Women’s Club and met in such places as the U.C.C. Church, First Congregational Church, West Ward Rod & Gun Club, VFW, St. Pat’s Church and Mrs. Hedesh’s home.

The history of Coaldale scouts now bring us to a completely new group of volunteers again who re-organized in 1969 and are still active today. This change took place when the Girl Scout Council changed from Pottsville to Penn’s Woods in Wilkes-Barre.

This new organization included only three troops at first – Brownie Troop No. 227 with Miss Linda Richards (from the old troop) as leader and assistant Leader Mrs. Nancy King, committee volunteers Mrs. Mildred Vilcheck, Mrs. Betty Hoffa, and Donna Filer. In 1970 Mrs. Pat Lore took over as Brownie Leader assisted by Mrs. Georgine Faenza and Mrs. Mary Louise Babinetz. Mrs. Lore remained leader in 1971 with Mrs. JoAnn Pavlick as assistant and in 1972 Mrs. Pavlick became leader with Mrs. Mildred Vilcheck as Assistant. Mrs. Vilcheck became leader of the Brownie Troop in 1973 and stayed on in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Other volunteers in this troop during these years were Mrs. Pat Winsko, Mrs. Georgine Novitsky, Mrs. Mary Hydro, Mrs. Marie Terry, Mrs. Mary Ann Nahf, Mrs. Eleanor Figner, Mrs. Dorothy Berk and Miss Cathy Keer. The sponsor for four years was the B.P.W. and changed to Ziegler’s Detective Agency, and they met in the First Congregational Church.

Junior Troop No. 278 has leader Mrs. Marie Kutza, who remained leader from 1969 to including 1976 with the following other assistant people: Mrs. Georgine Novitsky, Mrs. Dottie Watkins, Mrs. Barbara Pavelchak, Mrs. Linda Murphy, Mrs. Georgine Faenza, Mrs. Nancy King, Mrs. Betty Hoffa, Mrs. Jane Bubernak, Mrs. Mildred Vilcheck, Mrs. Pat Spink, Mrs. Ann O’Connell, Mrs. Dolores Garrett, and Mrs. Dottie York. The B.P.W. also sponsored this troop for four years and then it became the ‘D’ Super Market, and they too met in the First Congregational Church.

Cadette Troop No 279 started with leader Miss Debbe Derr and Assistant Mrs. Bernie Johnson and Mrs. Theresa Hontz, in 1969. Then in 1970 Mrs. Georgine Novitsky took over the troop as leader with Mrs. Dottie Watkins and Mrs. Bernie Johnson. Mrs. Novitsky remained leader in 1971 with Assistant Mrs. Ann O’Connell and in 1972 Mrs. Pat Lore became leader and remained leader until 1976, with the following volunteers: Miss Cherie Lore, Mrs. Christine Phillips, Mrs. Janet Telepchak, Mrs. Dolores Garrett, and Miss Betty Dover. The B.P.W. sponsored this troop for four years and then the sponsor became Sotak’s Carpet Store and they too met in the First Congregational Church.

A Senior Troop was formed in 1975 by keader Mrs. Georgine Novitsky and Assistant Mrs. Susan Bortnick. They met in various places and their sponsor was American Refrigeration Co.

The history of the present day Brownie and Scout Troops can easily be told since most of the leaders are still the original organizers of this last group. These troops all met together weekly and participated in skating parties, bowling parties, hayrides, camp-outs, Halloween parties, Christmas parties, Mother’s Day Teas, Dad’s parties, trips to hospital at Christmas time, caroling, parades, etc. There was no end to ideas and activities that the girls enjoyed doing together. No one will forget the annual trips taken to New York City; Washington, DC; West Point, NY; Niagara Falls, Canada and New York side; Williamsburg, VA and surrounding area; Mystic, CT; Sturbridge, MA; and the Dude Ranch near Lake George, NY.

Scouting holds many pleasant memories for the young and old of Coaldale, over the past forty years.