03/18/12 — 1980s flashback: Girl Scouts open time capsule

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1980s flashback: Girl Scouts open time capsule

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 18, 2012 1:50 AM

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Wearing a vintage Girl Scout uniform, Aaliyah Tate, Troop 1, walks through the crowd during the Girl Scouts tea party 100th anniversary celebration at the Wayne County Museum on Saturday.

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Contents from the Girl Scouts time capsule, including a photo of 12 girls taken in 1980, cover a table at the Girl Scouts tea party 100th anniversary celebration at the Wayne County Museum on Saturday.

It was just a simple piece of wood -- a small stick marked with color pens -- that, to the dozens of local Girl Scouts who converged on the Wayne County Museum Saturday, was far less interesting than the decades-old coins and pieces of cloth removed from a time capsule buried back in 1980.

But when Karen Shoemake saw it lifted out of a rusted ammunition box, she leaned forward.

And when she heard "Troop 35," her eyes lit up.

"That was my troop," she said, walking up to retrieve the item. "I can't believe it."

Back at her seat, she ran her fingers along the "friendship stick" marked 1976 and the memories started playing.

"As soon as I saw it I said, 'Hey, I remember those,'" Mrs. Shoemake said. "Each one of these colors has a different meaning."

For many local Girl Scouts, a weekend trip to the museum was about the chance to eat cake and sip on punch among friends.

But for 3-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, it also marked an opportunity to sport her pink princess dress while her sisters, Tiffany and Allison, helped their fellow scouts continue the organization's celebration of its 100th birthday.

Some might soon forget that they attended the party.

Like 5-year-old Ramya George, who looked as though she had licked icing off her fingers a few times before -- that her memory of this occasion might blur with others of its kind as she grows older.

Or Mayor Al King, who has attended hundreds of events to express the city's gratitude to those taking part in it.

But watching Mrs. Shoemake interact with a relic from her childhood, you got the sense that for her, this moment was special.

It took her back more than 30 years when she moved to Goldsboro after her father was stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base -- to the friends she met when she joined the organization she stayed in for 13 years.

It reminded her of friends she hasn't seen since she was a little girl.

But most of all, that simple piece of wood was a piece of her she could now pass on to her 11-year-old daughter, Savannah -- the little girl wearing patches her mother earned long before she was born.

"If they want to display it, I would be happy to let them keep it here," Mrs. Shoemake said, looking down at the stick and then at Savannah. "But if not, I'm going to give it to her."