(Tommy and Betty)



The story


Tommy and Betty were children who didn’t do anything to help their parents. One day mum sighed and said: “I wish I lived in the times brownies still existed.” Tommy and Betty wanted to know what brownies were. “They were little people,” mum said, “as big as a finger. They did chores for people without any word, mostly at night. They didn’t want to be thanked for their work, so they mostly came when nobody could see them.” The children also wanted a brownie and asked where they could buy one. “Brownies aren’t for sale. I don’t know if they still do exist. Perhaps the Wise Brown Owl knows. She live in the Oak tree up on the hill and you can talk to her at full moon”, mum added.



When mum and dad were sleeping Tommy and Betty went to see the owl and ask her for the brownie, so that they didn’t have to do anything anymore. The Wise Owl said they had to go to the lake at the other side of the forest and then turn around three times and say this rhyme: “I turn and turn, I seek the elf, I look into the water and see….” When they should look into the water they would see a brownie. At the lake they turned three times and said the rhyme and then looked into the water and they could only see themselves. Angry and disappointed they went back to the owl, as they couldn’t see a brownie. “Didn’t you see a brownie at all?” the Wise Owl asked, “But what did you see?” “The moon and the trees and the flowers and the grass and ourselves”, Betty said. “So,” Miss Owl thought, “The moon, the trees and the flowers and the grass and yourself? I turn and turn, I seek the elf, I look into the water and see….” “Myself”, Betty shouted, “that rhymes to elf. But… I’m not a brownie nor an elf?” “No”, the Wise Brown Owl said, “You’re not a brownie, but perhaps you could become one?” “Then how, I’m much too big?”

 “Yes, you are big. You should become a human brownie. Therefore you have to act just as that little people from old days, so make surprises and chores for grownups. But remember, the real brownies did them unnoticed, so they couldn’t even be thanked for it. Wouldn’t you like that? You could try it.” Yes, maybe,” Betty said. “Are you with me Tommy? It doesn’t hurt to try.”



The children went back home and crawled into their bed quietly and set the alarm at six o’clock. Quietly they did all kinds of chores. It went rather clumsy at first but they had fun doing them as quiet as possible and all chores were done. At five minutes to seven they crawled back in bed. When father and mother woke up they were very surprised and happy. They called the children who acted really surprised. Tommy and Betty were happy for the happy faces of their parents. They did those chores many times more and they learned to do those surprise chores during daytime, so they could get enough sleep during the nights. They told their friends at school what they did and they also played as brownies. When it was a full moon again more than twenty boys and girls went into the woods to tell the owl how much fun it was to be a brownie. Then the owl said that the boys should go to Akela to become cubs and then she would make a brownie circle with the girls. She would learn them all sorts of brownie chores and crafts to be able to help people even more.


A second story


In a later version of this story, the Brown Owl no longer sends the children to the lake, but promises to find a brownie herself. The children have to do something in return. They have to do little chores at home, like cleaning shoes of do some groceries or so. And they have to do it with a happy face and don’t ask for any thanks or rewards. The children promise to do so and also promise to keep this a secret for their parents. They’ll promise to meet each other in a month time. At first it is hard to do all kinds of chores with a smile, but they do better and it becomes more cosy at home. Friends notice that the children have changed and ask about it. It is a secret for our parents, Betty says, but she tells about Oehoe and the brownies and then more and more children think it’s a fun game and also want to be a brownie in at home. After the month not only Tommy and Betty go to the owl, but also a lot of other children. They all have done chores and thought it fun to be a brownie. A real brownie was no longer needed.






The leaders had special names: the First leader was called Oehoe (Brown Owl); the assistants were called Oebi or Hibou (yellow owl). Oehoe wore a brown tie with a pin on it with an owl face. Oebi and Hibou wore a yellow tie with a pin with a complete owl on it. Sometimes a girl-scout assisted and she was called Toewiet. She was the binding link between brownies and girl scouts and therefore she wore the uniform of the girl scouts with the brownie tie and on it the girl-scout pin.



The brownies


A full circle of 24 brownies existed of 4 tribes of 6 brownies each. Leading each tribe was a head brownie, assisted by a helper. The head brownie was appointed by Oehoe and Oebi, the helper was chosen together with the head brownie.

Oehoe appointed a brownie, sometimes after talking to the head brownies, which took care of the totem for at least three months. This brownie never was a head brownie or helper.



The brownies had their own secret language and writing. This talk and writing should off course kept secret for outsiders.

(This one is based on Dutch words.)



Talking circle


The tribe names


The names of the tribes relate to legends from Norway and Ireland. In those legends these characters always are symbol of giving help and warmth in the lives of others. Each tribe had its own story and motto. Each tribe also had its own song, which can be found in the “Stemvork” and “Kabouterliedjesbundel” (Dutch girl-scout songbooks) amongst others.




A fairy is tired of doing the same chores at plants and flowers over and over again, but every time she puts away her bad moods and helps everyone, whether he is nice of not. The wind rewards her with an adventure in Brownieland. The motto of the fairies is: “Although we fairies are very small, we sing and bring sunshine.”



The nixes at First had no wings, but that didn’t stop them at all. The wind asked them to help the rooster on top of the church, for he was stuck. The nixes didn’t hesitate a moment and started to climb the tree next to the tower. The spider aided them by giving them a thread and on top of the tree they ask the maple for its wings. The wind blew them to the top to the rooster and then they helped him with its paw. The wind then blew them to Brownieland. The motto from the nixes is: “Our plans are higher then we can reach, we will show.”







Master Elf teaches insect children. One day mother Fly arrived in panic: her son was trapped in the web of the spider. Master Elf reacted immediately, closed the school and headed for the spiders web. He freed the fly, but was trapped himself. He managed to free himself but wasn’t able to stay out of reach of the spider. When he was nearly caught, mother Fly comes to the rescue and brought him directly to the Brown Owl. The motto of the elves is: “First think of the other and then of yourself.”



Leprechauns always help humans and animals to find their way back. When a leprechaun brings a sheep back to the hurdle, the sheep promises him to fulfil his greatest wish, although they both know that only nixes know the way to Brownieland. The leprechaun is taken to Brownieland by two Nixes to stay there for a long time. The motto of the leprechauns is: “If you don’t know the way, the leprechauns are here to help.”







Although no earthman has ever been to Brownieland, they keep on hoping someone will be able to go there. They always help everyone and when an old lady comes along with lots of hunger, they give her their soup en help her to repair her coat. When the old lady takes of her coat, she appears to be Oehoe, who invites the complete family Earthman to come to Brownieland. The motto of the earthmen is: “We bright and handy earthmen help mom with pots and pans, rubbedub, rubbedub, rubbedub.”



The dwarf also wanted to go to Brownieland, but it hadn’t got enough money. But to say it’s wish out loud was impossible for him. When he finds out that mother Ant has lost het children, he doesn’t hesitate for a moment and searches for them. He finds them in a swamp, where they are slowly sinking in the quicksand. He helps them on solid ground with a great effort and takes them home to dry and rest. Mother Ant gives him a ticket for Brownieland thanking him thus for his aid and as a reward for his effort, courage and determination. He goes there with the snake train. The motto of the dwarves is: “We are all dwarves, but with our help you can move mountains.”





Law and promise


The law:

A brownie is honest

A brownie is obedient

A brownie is friendly

A brownie takes care of plants and animals


The promise:

I will do my best to be a real brownie, help wherever I can, especially at home.






The brownies wore a light brown dress with a yellow tie. The tie clip was a gold coloured metal ring, with on the front a gold coloured elf. The subgroup sign was worn on the right flap on the dress. Head brownie and helper wore two and one yellow ribbon around the right upper sleeve. The totem brownie could wear the totem badge on the right shoulder epaulets. The leaders wore the blue girl scout uniform with on it a brown or yellow tie.




The human child


Candidate brownies were called human children. They had to be at least 7½ years of age. The human child had to attend at least 10 meetings before initiation and had to apply to the requirements from the human child booklet. Before initiation they weren’t allowed to wear the brownie uniform, but they could wear a human child apron. This piece of uniform should make here feel part of the circle. The apron belonged to the circle of brownies.


Merit badges


After the initiation, the brownie could start with earning badges. At first the finger- and hand-skills had to be earned. They were some basic skills, for example knitting, crochets or crafts of polishing cupper and silver. After earning those badges the brownies could earn merit badges. To earn these badges some specific requirements for a special subject had to be followed.




Vinger (NPG).jpg


After initiation the skills for the finger followed. Usually the brownie got the finger-badge at least 5 months after initiation. The badge was worn laying at the right side of the uniform, just as high as the badge of the tribe to which the brownie belonged to.




The hand-badge could be earned 6 months after earning the finger. This one was worn standing upright above the finger.

The symbolic meaning of finger and hand is, that the brownie had one finger (hand) more than anyone else and therefore was more capable in helping others.


Hand (NPG).jpg


Merit badges



After earning the “hand” a brownie could start working for the different merit badges. Goal of those badges was that the brownie could specialize in an area she liked and every brownie could choose those badges which were her favourites.




Fairy ring


Oehoe and Oebi stood with the human child at the mushroom. Oehoe called: ‘Kiejoe’, the brownies hid themselves (inside a brownie was hidden when you couldn’t see her face). When Oehoe called: ‘Toewiet, toewiet, toewiet”, the brownies quietly gather. They formed a dancing circle, holding each others hand at shoulder height and first danced to the left with closing passes, singing ‘loh, loh, loh’, then dancing to the right with closing passes singing: “We are brownies, hear our song. We are joyful and work along’ Then left again like the first time singing: ‘Loh, loh, loh’. When everyone stood still, Oehoe nodded to a brownie who took a step forward, greeted and said: “Lend a hand” and took a step back. The circle also greeted and answered: “We’ll lend a hand”.



Greeting circle


Everyone was squatted with both hands in salute between the knees on the ground. The child, for whom the circle greeting was meant for, stood in the circle close to the totem. All brownies said softly “Toewiet oehoe” raising a bit and squatting again, holding her faces to the ground. The second time they said it a bit louder and now everyone watched the totem while making the same move. The third time they called it aloud. The brownies jumped up and clapped their hands above their heads. Then all stood still, greeted and looked at the one they made the circle greeting for.




The original meaning of the pow-wow was a place to exchange thoughts. Oehoe could give these thoughts to the brownies and the brownies could give them to Oehoe or each other, but the main meaning of the pow-wow was the exchange of thoughts. The pow-wow was a very important part of a meeting. It was an unwritten rule that only one person talked at the time. The brownie, who wanted to tell something, put two fingers on the ground and waited for Oehoe to give her a signal. A good pow-wow gave a special mood in the circle, the brownies learned to listen to each other and it gave them a sense of solidarity.


Crossing over



This was the only ceremony that brownies and girl scouts held together. The brownies formed a dancing circle around the totem and the girl scouts stood in half a circle at some distance. The outer two girl scouts held a rope in their hands, decorated by the girl scouts. The brownies danced the fairy circle and then Oehoe asked the brownies who would cross over to stand close to the totem. She said some personal words of goodbye to each leaving brownie. Then the remaining brownies did the circle greeting for them. The leaving brownies gave a left hand to Oebi and Toewiet en went with Oehoe to the rope, while the circle sang for instance ‘Kabouters, het is nu de grote dag’ ( Brownies this is the great day)


Oehoe said goodbye at the rope, gave them their wings on the right side of their uniform, gave them their crossing over card and called their name, for instance: “Here is brownie ….. from the ….. circle, who wants to be a girl scout at the ….. Troop. The brownies now jumped over the rope where a girl scout leader waited for them, welcoming them. When the brownie was at the circle less than half a year, she didn’t get her wings en just stepped over the rope. The leaders of the rounds who got a brownie in their round were called by their leader and took the brownies in the half circle and then the groups or troop song was sung for them, or a yell was done. Then the brownies sang the brownie song “Luid sing ik’t uit” (Loud I sing), at the same time the girl scouts sang “Hoort, zegt het voort” (Hear, tell it around). This closed the ceremony.



The meetings


There wasn’t a real opening or closing song. You could divide the meetings as followed:

-          Opening ceremony, for instance the fairy circle or raising the flag.

-          Inspection, perhaps collecting contribution.

-          Playing, Playing songs, drama.

-          Crafts, health, nature.

-          Adventure trip.

-          Pow-wow, singing, telling.

-          Closing ceremony.

Other information


In “Verhalen uit Kabouterland” (Stories from Brownieland), written by Freda Collins, several stories are published about brownies, fairies and so on. The tribe stories, as mentioned above, are also in this book with their tribe signs and together with six other tribe stories. This book was published by the Gildewinckel.

As there were two stories for brownies after the merge in 1973 the decision was made to let the brownies play in a new country, Bambilië and the play of Tommy and Betty was no longer played.



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