Each month, The Sun magazine offers fiction, poetry, essays, interviews, and photos in a black-and-white format without advertising. Each issue includes provocative ideas from people of science, religion, philosophy, the arts, or a combination. Each issue also includes Readers Write, a feature compiling nonfiction submissions from the magazine’s readers on an intentionally broad topic. Occasionally I submit pieces for consideration. More often, I write essays on the topics too late to submit them.
This piece should have been submitted by December 1, 2013, for consideration for the May 2014 issue.
Between second and tenth grades, I was a member of Camp Fire Girls. My closest friends from those years and through high school were other members in my Camp Fire Girls group. Mothers of members of the group took turns serving as leaders over the years, and we girls got experience electing officers and filling the many roles involved in holding business meetings. The President opened each meeting. The Secretary read the minutes of the previous meeting. The Treasurer collected the weekly dues (15 cents, I think), though I suspect the funds were held by one of the adult leaders. My memory is hazy on that point.
Each business meeting took no more than ten minutes after which we completed an activity organized by the adult leaders. We made presents for our mothers for Christmas, learned to embroider by adding designs on dish towels, and practiced interviews for jobs, though we were still years away from opportunities to consider work beyond babysitting for siblings or younger neighbors.
As we entered junior high school, one of the leaders noticed our discussions during the activities sometimes involved unflattering comments about classmates not in our group. Whenever she heard one of us say something negative, she would interrupt with, “I understand she plays the piano very well.” It always stopped our gossiping. We began using the same phrase among ourselves outside of our Camp Fire Girl meetings if one of us began sharing uncomplimentary news about someone.