On My Honor

Footnotes take us from Girl Scouts to Tiffany Girls, with a detour through the DEA Museum.

Published October 4, 2023

Citation Needed

Back in 1917, Girl Scouts needed to “know how to feed, kill, and dress poultry” to earn the coveted Dairy… what? Badge

This week brings my favorite kind of fact-check source: A Cool Old Document in the Public Domain. Here we have How Girls Can Help Their Country (PDF, eBook), the first handbook for the Girl Scouts in the 1910s.

We’ve got some solid, teachable principles in those early Girl Scout Laws: loyalty, honesty, thrift. (They didn’t know about girl math back then.) But things get dicey by the time we get to “A Girl Scout obeys orders” and “A Girl Scout is cheerful under all circumstances,” before veering even further into the kind of patriarchal pabulum you might expect. Thankfully, the current Girl Scout Law is much more palatable.

After learning the laws, you could rack up badges by learning semaphore, dressing and bathing a baby, and identifying ten wild birds! Some other strange WWI-era badge requirements (and by the way, since when does poultry count as “dairy”?):

  • Farmer: Knowledge of bees.
  • Personal health: Sleep with an open window. (But what about the bees??)
  • Music: Never play ragtime, except for dancing. (Can’t imagine why that was so important)
  • Cooking for the sick: Know how to make gruel, barley water, milk toast, oyster or clam soup, beef tea, chicken jelly, and “kumyss” (which is fermented mare or cow milk, apparently.)

By the way, 1917 was also the birth year of Girl Scout cookies. No word on whether they were made with kumyss.

Rabbit Holes

What “Tokyo Drift” star dropped “Lil” from his rap name in 2002? Bow Wow

Not to be confused with the Japanese metal band Bow Wow, nor of course the English new wave band Bow Wow Wow. Anyhow, here’s some lowbrow know-how: At the 2016 Grammys, Bow Wow raised brows with a premature “Now!” (and another. Wow!) But don’t be holier-than-thou; he disavowed his “Now.” There’s no need to skewer him (like Fogo de Chão).

Basically cheap-o oxycodone, an old patent medicine called Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup lulled people to sleep with what all-natural painkiller? Opium or Morphine

I verified this question using information from the DEA Museum. Yes, apparently the Drug Enforcement Administration has its very own all-ages museum. Other highlights from the collection include a life mask of Pablo Escobar, a heroin-smuggling koi fish, and a Homer Simpson bong. Bet that’s a wild gift shop!

Who was the first U.S. president with a middle name? John Quincy Adams

The Top 5 Presidential Middle Names That I’m Pretty Sure Are Also Apple Varieties at Trader Joe’s:

5. Knox

4. Gamaliel

3. Delano

2. Fitzgerald

1. Birchard

(Why not Robinette? That’s a pear, silly.)

Pedantic Predicaments

As I recall, we both kinda liked the 40-foot stained glass dome over the Chicago Cultural Center, one of the most impressive pieces by what schmancy lamp company? Tiffany Studios

Eric touched on this in his column last week, but I’ll go into more detail here. The initial version of this question asked for a “Fifth Avenue jewelry company.” The problem: Tiffany & Co. of blue box and Audrey Hepburn fame was never the same company as Tiffany Studios of schmancy glass lamp fame.

This error eluded me, and I only caught the distinction well after I approved the initial question. I had always assumed that Tiffany jewelry and Tiffany glass came from the same place, mirroring other companies that have specialized in disparate products such as Yamaha (pianos, motorcycles) and Bic (pens, lighters, razors). Jewelry and glass are both shiny, decorative, elaborate, artisan, and expensive—it certainly seems like a natural fit! It’s a good reminder to check my assumption.

To be clear, both Tiffanys are absolutely related, literally. Glass Tiffany (aka Louis Comfort Tiffany, or LCT) was the son of Jewelry Tiffany (aka Charles Lewis Tiffany), and after dad died, LCT even became the jewelry company’s first design director

By the way: As part of the unfortunately robust history of men taking credit for women’s work, LCT labeled himself the “chief designer” of those gorgeous Tiffany lamps, even though a woman named Clara Driscoll and her team of “Tiffany girls” were the ones actually responsible. After Driscoll made the design, the largely independent Tiffany girls stenciled, curated, cut, and foiled the glass. They did everything but the soldering, and that was literally only because they weren’t allowed to.

Thanks for reading the column—and if you enjoyed it, then never say we have nothing in common.

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.

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