Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Bundle of Bandlos
 


A Bundle of Bandlos

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 31, 2008

If you (man or woman), or your parents, were born before 1960 and grew up in an active LDS home, chances are that somewhere in your family – maybe in a cedar chest, maybe in a chest of drawers – you have one of these relics of Mormon childhood. This is most likely if you grew up in the Mormon corridor, but may also be true if you lived in western Europe.

The word bandlo is evidently a Mormon-invented word (some have suggested the word was inspired by bandoleer) for that band of felt worn around the neck like a long collar, to which were affixed symbols made of felt, plastic, or glass, representing participation and achievement in the last three years of Primary.

Primary was born in 1878 in Farmington, Utah, when Aurelia Spencer Rogers grew concerned over the behavior of young boys in her town: “Many of them were allowed to be out late at night; and certainly some of the larger ones well deserved the undesirable name of ‘hoodlum.” She was also concerned about the effect of this situation on young girls: “What will our girls do for good husbands, if this state of things continues? Could there not be an organization for little boys, and have them trained to make better men?”

Primary spread rapidly throughout the church, but each ward devised its own program within the general framework devised by Sister Rogers and her successors. Beginning in 1902, with the birth of the Children’s Friend magazine, lessons were published each month for use during the next month’s Primary activities. Children were not grouped by age, and the same lessons had to be adapted to suit children who could be anywhere from 3 to 14 years of age.

The division into classes based on children’s ages occurred during the 1920s, and by 1930 Primary had assumed the form familiar to us through 1980, when another radical change occurred with the advent of the block meeting schedule.

Before the block schedule, Primary was held on a weekday afternoon, most commonly Wednesday. The youngest boys and girls belonged to mixed-sex classes; boys and girls were segregated in the 1920s at age 7, and later at age 9. Bandlos were part of the program for both boys and girls during the classes for 9-, 10-, and 11-year-olds.

From the late 1920s, the oldest boys’ classes were designated collectively as Trail Builders; 9-year-olds were called Blazers; 10-year-olds were Trekkers; and 11-year-olds were Guides. These class names were stable until the 1970s, when the Trail Builders program was dissolved, and 10- and 11-year-olds were designated as Blazer A and Blazer B.

The oldest girls’ classes were designated collectively as Home Builders until 1940 when the name was changed to Lihomas (meaning LIttle HOme MAkers. Class names were, beginning with the youngest, Larks, Bluebirds, and Seagulls until 1959 when they were renamed Gaynotes, Firelights, and Merrihands, until the 1970s when the Lihoma program was dissolved, and 10- and 11-year-olds were designated as Merrie Miss A and Merrie Miss B.

Class symbols were devised in the 1920s. The general Trail Builder symbol was a pine tree, with a hatchet representing the Blazers, a wagon wheel representing the Trekkers, and an arrow representing the Guides. The general Home Builder symbol was a house (with an updated model being adopted when the name was changed to Lihomas), with larks, bluebirds and seagulls representing their respective classes (a lighted candle represented the Lark class briefly at the beginning of the program); Gaynotes were symbolized by a musical note, Firelights by a blazing hearth, and Merrihands by a girl’s forearms embracing a New Testament.

The first use of these symbols was to decorate headgear. Boys wore beanies of green and brown felt, with the pine tree in front and the additional symbols being added as the boys moved through the program. Girls made paper or felt headbands with the appropriate symbol. The boys continued to wear their beanies into the 1940s; girls abandoned their headbands as their flapper style ceased to be at all fashionable.

The first bandlo-like items came into the Primary program in 1929 as part of a short-lived program for 13- and 14-year-old girls, in a class known as the Mi-kan-wees; until those ages were transferred to the MIA program in 1934, the girls tracked their progress through the program by sewing beads unto a flat strip of brown felt called a Nan-ko. Girls were awarded beads for class participation each week (dark blue for the lessons on biography and ethics, green for lessons on wisdom and knowledge in arts and nature study, red for lessons on health and homemaking, and pale blue for lessons on religion and service. Girls could earn yellow beads for completing outside assignments related to the lesson. Every three months during the two years of the Mi-Kan-Wee program, girls were given beads to be sewn on the Nan-ko in specific shapes called tepees (only part of which resembled Indian tents) representing the girls’ completion of that quarter’s work; the additional beads earned each week were sewn next to the tepees in rows, called paths, representing paths to the full lives encouraged for LDS girls.

The first true bandlo – although it was first called a “necklace” – came into being in the early 1930s. It was made of green felt, on which were glued or sewn “charms” made of felt. The colors of each charm signified progress on one of the class “quests” (similar to the Mi-kan-wees’ “paths”): lavender denoted spirituality, pink meant health, blue signified service, and green indicated knowledge. Charms won by Larks were round, those earned by Bluebirds were diamonds, and those acquired by Seagulls were triangles. Rose-colored “honor links” could be earned by completing extra projects related to the quests, and were sewn on the necklace between the charms.

Girls’ bandlos of the late 1930s and 1940s were made of maroon felt. A plastic house attached near the point of the bandlo represented the girls’ focus on home. Plastic birds representing each class were added as the girls moved through the program. The girls could also earn additional plastic symbols: the east face of the Salt Lake Temple represented progress on spiritual goals; a winged foot symbolized the Word of Wisdom and other health goals; a lighted lamp represented service; an open book indicated knowledge. In addition, the girls could earn bars of felt in ivory, red, yellow, and blue, representing completion of projects related to spirit, health, service, and knowledge, respectively. A scroll representing graduation from Primary was earned when all graduation requirements were met.

The girls’ bandlo retained the same symbols through the 1950s, except that rhinestone “jewels” replaced the bars of felt.

[I have not yet confirmed exactly when the bandlos were changed from maroon to green; they were green by at least 1945.]

The bandlos of the 1960s were similar in spirit but somewhat different in design from earlier versions. Of pale green felt, they bore a more modern house near the point. Class symbols appropriate to the new names of classes were awarded at the beginning of each year. Round photographs a little smaller than an American nickle and covered with glass depicted a girl praying (earned when a girl learned to open and close a meeting using an appropriate prayer format and prayer language), a girl reading the New Testament (earned when a girl could meet requirements for locating scripture verses in the New Testament), wheat (symbolizing the Word of Wisdom) and the priesthood monument on Temple Square (representing the priesthood), after the girl met requirements related to those subjects. Plastic numbers 1-4, 5-9, and 10-13 represented memorization of the Articles of Faith. Rows of rhinestones represented attendance at Primary and memorization of scripture verses. Jewels attached to each class symbol indicated the girl had attended Primary at least 40 times during the year. Jewels glued to the windows of the house represented completion of an article of cross stitch, knitting, and crocheting. Jewels descending from the house represented memorization of the books of the New Testament; recitation of facts about the eight men who wrote the books of the New Testament; and recitation of a story in a girl’s own words about someone in the New Testament who “served gladly.” A white plastic scroll symbolized graduation from Primary.


The boys’ classes began using bandlos in the 1930s, with felt symbols in various colors; I am still working to identify the significance of the various symbols shown here.


By 1936, the boys’ bandlos were virtually identical to the girls’ except for the class symbols; the requirements to earn the symbols relating to spiritual goals, health, service, and knowledge were similar to the girls’ requirements, but adapted to boys’ activities (boys’ requirements were more generally turned toward school and community rather than toward home, as the girls’ requirements were). The boys’ bandlos remained virtually unchanged through the 1940s and into the 1950s.

Beginning in the late 1950s, numerals were added to the bandlo to represent each Article of Faith memorized; these numerals were clustered around the class symbol of the year the boy memorized the Article. A diamond (called a “bowline”) mounted below the pine tree could be earned by a boy who passed the Tenderfoot requirements in the Boy Scouting program. The boys’ bandlo remained the same through the 1960s.

Bandlos were vastly more plentiful along the Mormon corridor than elsewhere, obviously. Nevertheless, there are indications that bandlos were used by Primary children elsewhere in the world. The Church Archives hold Primary manuals from the late 1950s and early 1960s which contain instructions and diagrams for bandlos. These non-English manuals appear to have been translated by Americans working in mission offices; they are mimeographed, and appear to be direct translations without cultural adaptations – the boys’ lesson manuals, for example, contain stories of Daniel Boone and Kit Carson. Nevertheless, they indicate that there may very well be bandlos hidden away in the souvenirs of long-time church members outside the United States – a nauha in Finland, a sjerp in Holland, a banda in Mexico, a Band in Germany, a Banderollen in Sweden.

When the Trail Builder and Lihoma programs were discontinued in about 1970, to be replaced by the Blazer A and B and Merrie Miss A and B classes, bandlos were discontinued. 10- and 11-year-old Primary children were given printed wall hangings – called “Blazer Banners” and “Merrie Markers” – to which symbols representing lessons learned were glued. All such trappings were discontinued by the time weekday Primary was merged into Sunday School with the block meeting schedule.

My own bandlo from the 1960s, moth-eaten though it is, but proudly complete down to the last jewel, is a treasured souvenir of my Mormon childhood.

[This article is preliminary and incomplete, and is part of a study of the ways in which the church has formally transmitted its doctrines and culture from one generation to the next.]

45 Comments »

I am certain that mine from the late ’60s / early ’70s is still stashed away in my mother’s cedar chest. I remember them being called “bandalos,” though. I guess I really had no idea how it was spelled. Perhaps the extra syllable tended to be added for euphony, to counteract the difficulty in pronouncing the three consonants in a row.

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 12:38 am | Edit This

You’re right, Left Field, about the way people always pronounced it. The lesson manuals and other church-issued materials uniformly spell it without a middle vowel, though. (Pronouncing the word with three syllables seems to make it more likely that we got the word from “bandoleer,” too.)

Comment by Ardis Parshall — 5/10/2007 @ 12:47 am | Edit This

I’ve never heard anyone talk about the Merrie Miss markers. Anyone experience those? (I don’t still have mine, but remember it.)

Comment by m&m — 5/10/2007 @ 2:00 am | Edit This

Yes, yes, m&m. I believe I still have a Merrie Miss marker, if the thing I have is what a Merrie Miss Marker is! The thing I have is this long scroll like piece of material. We had to embroider something at the bottom in yarn. The top part had these little plastic bubble like jewels with adhesive on the back and little science inside them, like Ardis mentioned above. Is this what you’re referring to?

Comment by meems — 5/10/2007 @ 2:41 am | Edit This

meems, yep, I remember doing that thing, complete with the lumpy embroidery and plastic colored jewels one glued on for passing off Articles of Faith. I’ve long since discarded mine, though (given my embroidery skills, even at age 11 I could see that mine was…well, not quite up to snuff).

Does anyone else remember the Targeteer banners?

Comment by Eve — 5/10/2007 @ 2:52 am | Edit This

Thanks, Ardis. This is fascinating. I remember my older sisters wearing their bandlos (we called them ‘bandalos’ too) and passing off various requirements in order to get more plastic things to glue on.

It is hard for me to get a good read on Aurelia Spencer Rogers. I’ve done a quick online search, but I was unable to determine if she had any sons of her own. Didn’t her original plan call for dressing the boys in uniform, and forcing them to sing while marching in formation? The prospect of that makes me laugh out loud, and I simply can’t imagine anybody who had ever been around boys thinking it would be productive. It seems like a guaranteed way to produce even more recalcitrant and defiant behavior.

Comment by Mark IV — 5/10/2007 @ 5:07 am | Edit This

Ardis, once again, this is absolutely fascinating, and I had absolutely no idea. I wonder how strongly the Cub Scout program influenced the development of Primary. Singing while marching in formation wasn’t exactly unknown in other youth programs, although a lot depends on the implementation.

Comment by Jonathan Green — 5/10/2007 @ 6:58 am | Edit This

I missed the bandalos, but I also had one of those scroll markers up on the wall of my bedroom. I remember feeling rather proud when I’d passed off all 13 Articles of Faith and had all the spaces on my scroll filled in. I also remember the Targeteer flags.

Comment by Russell Arben Fox — 5/10/2007 @ 7:27 am | Edit This

To this day, my mother refers to a Boy Scout merit badge sash as a bandlo.

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 7:35 am | Edit This

I remember it being sometimes challenging to get the plastic emblems to stick to the bandlo. As I recall, Elmer’s glue would work, but I seem to remember that there was a special glue that was supposed to work better. I think the glue might have been supplied by the church, but perhaps it was some commercial glue that experience had shown to be effective. Did you run across any information about a special glue? Of course, you couldn’t wash the bandlo, or the emblems would likely fall off. I also recall having to be careful to keep the bandlo more or less flat and folded, lest being crumpled up would cause the emblems to separate from the felt.

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 8:10 am | Edit This

Yep, you’re right about the pronunciation. And, as soon as you quit wearing your bandalo, you could go get your patriartical blessing.

One minor point–by the mid 60’s, we never called the 11 year old boys Guides. The class was called the Guide Patrol, but for some reason we never called the individual members guides. Was that just the Provo Eighth or Edgemont 3rd Ward, or was that common in other parts of the church then?

Comment by Mark B. — 5/10/2007 @ 8:21 am | Edit This

I think you’re right, Mark. I think usually, the only time the class was called just “Guides” would have been when you referred to all three classes together. The common designation was Guide Patrol. The Guide Patrol was of course equivalent to what used to be called the Blazer Patrol or Blazer Scouts, and now I think is just called “11-year-old Scouts.” I remember thinking it was kind of strange when they started calling first year Scouts “Blazers” because that had always referred to younger boys before they became Boy Scouts. I think there was a Guide Patrol patch for the scout uniform that depicted the same red arrow emblem that went on the bandlo.

One detail Ardis didn’t mention is that the hatchet symbol for the Blazers and the associated Articles of Faith numbers for that year were yellow. The Trekker emblem and numbers were blue, and the Guide emblem and numbers were red.

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 8:41 am | Edit This

Terrific article, Ardis. I remember fondly my green Trail Buiilder bandlo (we too prnounced it with three syllables, and I think your proposed etymology is correct), which was like the last one on the left in your illustrations. I grew up in northern Illinois, so the program existed even in our little branch away from the Mormon corridor. Of course, most of the Bloggernacle is too young to have experienced these things in person. (Unfortunately, I’m quite sure my bandlo is no longer in existence.)

I do have a strong recollection of how motivating it was to get those new little plastic symbols to be able to glue them onto your bandlo.

Comment by Kevin Barney — 5/10/2007 @ 8:49 am | Edit This

As my boys work on their Faith in God awards, I’ve felt a little sorry for them that they don’t have Blazer banners. A dozen years ago, while my wife was in a primary presidency, names for the classes (by that point just Sunbeams, CTRs, and Valiants) were eliminated. The Sunbeam name returned quickly, and CTR also at some point. Right after the name purge, though, I saw one ward in the stake where the class numbers, all that was left, were fashioned into names. For example, the class for 7-year-olds was The Sevens.

Comment by John Mansfield — 5/10/2007 @ 9:17 am | Edit This

I’m not obsessed with bandlos, really, I just keep thinking of more things to say. Kevin is correct; I think they were used at least throughout the US and probably churchwide. I remember them from various regions of the country where my family moved during the ’60s.

At the time, I didn’t really know anything about the girls’ bandlos except that they had different emblems and had the little jewel things. I was interested from Ardis’ article to learn that the girls had a lot more stuff they could do to earn emblems. The boys really didn’t do anything for bandlo emblems but memorize the Articles of Faith. Perhaps the idea was that the boys were earning awards in scouting, and the girls’ bandalo was to provide similar recognition. However, none of the scouting awards were for the sort of religious achievements recognized on the girls’ bandlo. I haven’t had a Primary calling since the mid ’80s, so I wonder how the boys and girls classes compare now in recognition of spiritual acheivements. Do they even still have separate boys and girls classes any more?

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 9:33 am | Edit This

Oh, you can say you’re not obsessed, Left Field … :-) Really, it’s fun to get up this morning and see so many memories stirred overnight.

Elmer’s glue was the third recommended glue; epoxy was second, and airplane dope was most recommended. The teachers’ manuals often suggested that the teacher rather than the children glue on the emblems, noting that the better glues required good ventilation, should be spread to the very edge of the emblem so that there would be no loose edges to catch and pull off, and should be weighted and left for several hours to dry thoroughly before moving. My teachers must have done that, because except for the top of the Firelight flame, all my emblems are still very firmly glued down.

The rhinestone jewels were applied with a special tool that forced the four prongs of a metal fastener through the fabric from the back, then clamped the prongs down over the faceted sides of the jewel to hold it in place. None of my jewels has fallen out, either.

Just as the boys’ pieces were color coordinated between the class symbols and the Articles of Faith numbers, the Gaynote symbol and 1-4 were white; the Firelight symbol and 5-9 were yellow; and the Merrihand symbol and 10-13 were pink. With the tendency to assign meaning to every imaginable trait, I’ll have to find out whether the colors had any significance.

Mark IV, if your trouble in getting a read on Aurelia Spencer Rogers is because you can’t decide whether she was a kindly mother to the neighborhood or a dictatorial goosestepper, come down on the side of kindly mother. She favored singing and good manners, and community gardens and helping little old ladies across muddy streets. While there has been marching through most of the history of Primary (last time I taught Stars on weekdays, we held regular Star parades around the cultural hall or the whole building, to burn off energy), it was always in the nature of a rest exercise or fun parade, not as a drill team and certainly not as lockstep regimentation. Remember too that chilidren saw adults marching regularly — soldiers, political parades, marching bands on holidays and during conventions — was just what you did when you moved to march music, which was a favorite form of popular music for decades. And Aurelia had lots of little boys of her own.

Comment by Ardis Parshall — 5/10/2007 @ 10:10 am | Edit This

Although this was before my time, I do recall my mom talking about her bandlo. I’ll have to call her and see if she still knows where it is.
As a Valiant-9 teacher, I can’t help but think how much more complicated the role of a teacher must have been back then. I’m patting myself on the back when I remember to prepare my lesson–remembering proper glue, accessories, etc. would be a total nightmare.
However, I would love to see our Primary do a community garden!

Comment by Lupita — 5/10/2007 @ 10:31 am | Edit This

The Church museum has a little web display with visuals for these things Sister Parshall has described: link.

Comment by John Mansfield — 5/10/2007 @ 11:02 am | Edit This

Those bandlos (and we also pronounced them with three syllables) were one of the few things I remember enjoying about Primary. I don’t know if mine is still packed in a box somewhere. If it is, I am sure several of the emblems have fallen off–we couldn’t get those darn things to stay on.

Comment by CS Eric — 5/10/2007 @ 11:14 am | Edit This

This is a wonderful essay, Ardis. I seem to remember some of those round pictures from my youth, perhaps from my older siblings, but had no idea until now of what they were. This effort seems to be reflective of the greater society as well as the shifts in Aaronic priesthood organization. The Progressive Movement of the early portion of the century, with its scientific measurements and organizational efficiency, would seem to be a primary source for these developments.

Comment by J. Stapley — 5/10/2007 @ 12:26 pm | Edit This

Thanks to John Mansfield for the link. I don’t know how to do that. I was however the curator of the exhibit featured. I very much enjoyed Ardis’ original post. But I do have a few additions and/or ammendments to make.

While Sister Rogers originally intended the organization to be for boys, girls were added early on “to make the singing sound better.”

The boys and girls classes were never separated out until age nine, although the first named classes for 7-8 years olds was the ZBs and ZGs (Zion’s Boys and Girls) These classes morphed into a series of “Pilot” classes which later became the Targeteers, then CTRs. The focus of all of these classes was to prepare children to be baptized.

The “Homebuilders” as the collective name for the older girls’ classes lasted through the late 50s when they became Lihomas.

The MiKanWee program was an effort to placate the girls who had been left behind in Primary, even as the boys were moved into MIA to be part of the Scouts. The girls never liked that (they thought–and rightly so–that they were more “grown-up” than the 12-13 year old boys and if anyone was to have been moved up it should have been them.) After a couple of difficult years trying to get the girls to accept the MiKanWee program, they too were moved into MIA)

The boys also had green felt bandlos, at least through the end of WWII. The colors of their awards were different than the girls’ but I can’t remember the specifics now. The girls’ bandlos were maroon at least through the late 1950s, but had changed to light green by the end of the 50s.

Cub Scouts were not added to the Primary program until the mid 50s to meet the competition of other churches and groups who were were siphoning Mormon boys off of Primary into their own Cub Scouting programs. The Church had tried to draw and line and not have Mormon boys involved in Cub Scouts, but the pressures were apparently so great that it became a matter of “if you can’t beat them join them”. Incidently the comment from Mark about Sister Rogers possible draconian approach of little boys in uniforms and marching around made me laugh. Little boys (and lots of big ones too) love uniforms and marching around–the scouts do it all the time.

Ardis forgot to mention the “Little Skylights” names for the youngest classes in the early 1960s. Three year olds were Moonbeams, 4s were Sunbeams, 5s were Stars and 6s were Rainbows. I think the “Hippie” movement of the 1960s put a quick end to these names.

As to Primary children and awards now, this is a sore spot with me. (I was in our Primary Pres–most of the time as Pres for 8 years, only being released last Fall.) The boys, of course, get LOTS of awards in Cub Scouts. I somethimes thought they were getting “awards for breathing”. The sisters in these families who were at pack meetings supporting their brothers were often so excited to become scouts too so they could get all those awards. I always found it a bit sad, especially since by directive from Church headquarters any tangible awards for the girls through the Achievement Days program became forbidden. I was in at least 3 meetings with a Primary General Board member in attendance when questions about this disparity were raised. The answer always was,”the boys need it the girls don’t”. I don’t understand that answer, having witnesses how eagarly the girls worked for their awards and remembering how motivational bandlos and such were for me as a child. The disparity between girls and boys programs is way more apparent now than ever before (at least maybe since the MiKanWees) and the girls do notice.

I’ll climb down off my soapbox and follow the rest of your comments as they emerge.

Comment by Marjorie Conder — 5/10/2007 @ 1:22 pm | Edit This

Loved this — the drawing of the ’50’s “bandalo” with the tree at the bottom and the numbers caused one of those surprisingly clear recollections of mine — probably still hanging in a closet in my parents’ home. Yes, keeping things glued to the felt was a trick!

Comment by manaen — 5/10/2007 @ 2:10 pm | Edit This

I’m enjoying hearing of all the memories triggered by discussion of bandlos!

Marjorie has jumped the gun a bit, anticipating a series of posts I plan to do over the next few months about how we transmit the gospel to the next generation, and how our methods have evolved through our history as a church. The belief in a generations-long disparity between the boys’ and girls’ programs is a recurrent theme in the bloggernacle — I’ve contributed to it myself — yet when I went back to the original sources (the lesson manuals, leaders’ supplements, training materials, published reports of activities), I very much began to question the conventional wisdom. My next post on this theme, which I probably won’t put up for a couple of weeks, looks at how 11-year-olds, both boys and girls, are taught about the priesthood and their personal responsibilities and privileges in connection with the priesthood. The results of that study go very much against the conventional wisdom — our assumptions, even our personal memories, are not always reliable guides to what really was.

I hope there will be some interest in this series.

Comment by Ardis Parshall — 5/10/2007 @ 2:54 pm | Edit This

My cousin and I are writing our grandmother’s life story for her 85th birthday next month, and there has been much family discussion about the proper spelling of “bandlo” in our text, so this was a very timely and interesting post for me! Makes you wonder how different things will be in a generation or two as the Church programs progress and change.

Comment by Anita — 5/10/2007 @ 3:01 pm | Edit This

Fascinating, Ardis. I don’t think we ever had those in the mission field in Europe (and I have been in the Church since the 1960s), but, then again, we hardly had any children of primary age either. But I do remember seeing pictures with those bandlos in the English Church magazines of decades ago. They were part the “fully Mormon world” in the Far West we could only dream about.

Comment by Wilfried — 5/10/2007 @ 3:55 pm | Edit This

Ardis, I am definitely looking forward to your additional posts–I’m very interested in how the gospel is transmitted to the next generation. Thank you for your research!!

Comment by Lupita — 5/10/2007 @ 4:15 pm | Edit This

Ardis,
By the way, I neglected to say that once again, I’m impressed. You have a gift that is very far from my realm and it’s amazing to me. Thanks for sharing a little of your knowledge and talent with us.

Comment by m&m — 5/10/2007 @ 4:27 pm | Edit This

Too fun, Ardis.

I’ve never heard anyone talk about the Merrie Miss markers. Anyone experience those?

Are you kidding? I still HAVE my Merrie Miss banner. I crocheted it in spring green and yellow, emblazoned it with a horrendously ugly 5th grade school photo, and preceded to put all my articles of faith circles, PLUS the special little bronze sticky things on them. It is a treasure.

Darn, Eve, I wanted to be the first to mention the Targeteer flag! We are the few, chosen, who got to experience those! We did the stitching on the outside edge (the boys, too) and then got a ribbon to tie to the top of the stick for each incredible thing we did.

Bandlos were part of the program for both boys and girls during the classes for 9-, 10-, and 11-year-olds.

You mean there was a time in the church when the girls had a program just as cool as the boys?

Comment by Alison Moore Smith — 5/10/2007 @ 6:39 pm | Edit This

I think I lived in an Elmer’s Glue ward.

When you’ve finished with the bandlos, Ardis, you should move into the realm of the women teaching the boys in the Trekkers and the Guide Patrol. That meant that the Trekkers teacher spent a considerable amount of time teaching the boys to tie square knots, clove hitches, two-half-hitches and sheet bends so they could earn their Tenderfoot scout badges. And it meant the Guide Patrol teacher would go on at least some of the three five-mile hikes the boys needed to earn their second class scout badges by the time they turned 12. (There was an older boy/young man assigned to work with us too. He went with us on the more vigorous hikes and wilder activities that Sister Thomas didn’t come on. And, he showed up sometimes on Wednesday afternoons–he was a college student and could escape early those days–to help teach scouting things during Primary.

I still remember my mother working to learn those knots so she could teach her knot-headed bunch of 10-year-olds in the Trekkers.

Comment by Mark B. — 5/10/2007 @ 6:43 pm | Edit This

Targeteer, Schmargeteer, Multi-level Marketeer!

We got real plastic wings when we were Co-Pilots and Top Pilots.

Nyaah, Nyaah, Nyaahhh!!

Comment by Mark B. — 5/10/2007 @ 6:45 pm | Edit This

I can top that, Mark. I still have my plastic Top Pilot wings. I also have the Top Pilot Flightbook. You can see a picture if you go to the Primary Museum website and click on “primary programs.” Yes, I’m a packrat.

However, I don’t remember having CTR rings when I was a CTR Pilot. In fact, I don’t think I even became aware of them until I was an adult. When did they start giving those out?

Comment by Left Field — 5/10/2007 @ 7:05 pm | Edit This

The bandlos remind me of the sash worn with certain Masonic jewels, particularly in the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.

Masonic jewel and sash

Just sayin’…

Comment by Tony — 5/10/2007 @ 11:28 pm | Edit This

#29. “That meant that the Trekkers teacher spent a considerable amount of time teaching the boys to tie square knots, clove hitches, two-half-hitches and sheet bends so they could earn their Tenderfoot scout badges.”

Don’t forget the timber hitch, the double sheet bend, the sheepshank, the bowline, the taut-line hitch, the fisherman’s bend, and, or course, the granny knot!

Comment by Hans Hansen — 5/11/2007 @ 12:45 am | Edit This

I actually just came across mine the other day while I was going through a box looking for some pictures. It’s circa late 60s and I remember being very proud that I earned every jewel possible.

Comment by Carolee — 5/11/2007 @ 1:21 am | Edit This

i joined the church in 1961 and saw a lot of those banners in the homes of my lds friends.
the big thing for me was M-Men and Golden Gleaners but that too has gone away

Comment by tj — 5/11/2007 @ 2:12 am | Edit This

Crewel embroidery. Even as a craft retard, I really do know the difference between embroidery and crochet.

When you’ve finished with the bandlos, Ardis, you should move into the realm of the women teaching the boys in the Trekkers…

You mean there was a time when the church leaders reinforced allegiance to Captain Kirk and Doctor Spock?

Comment by Alison Moore Smith — 5/11/2007 @ 2:14 am | Edit This

Ah memories! Wilfried, I can confirm that in the 60’s the bandlos were alive and well in the European mission field, at least in England. I well remember giving out the emblems as a teacher. Ours were a bottle green shade of felt.

Comment by ukann — 5/11/2007 @ 3:24 am | Edit This

Maybe we should just put all the girls into Scouting too–stop calling it “Boy” Scouts and let everyone learn the same skills and get awards. I was in an Explorer post in high school and loved it. Or we could go back to the Lark, Bluebird etc days–it sounds like a program we could resurrect!

Comment by Space Chick — 5/11/2007 @ 11:51 am | Edit This

36: Mr. Spock, Alison, Mr. Spock! The Mormon parents of my ’60s youth despised Doctor Spock’s permissiveness.

Mr. Spock, on the other hand, was on TV the same night as MIA. Truly, truly a sacrifice for my older brother to choose between them.

Comment by Ardis Parshall — 5/11/2007 @ 12:56 pm | Edit This

Ardis, I stand most humbly corrected!

Comment by Alison Moore Smith — 5/13/2007 @ 1:46 am | Edit This

Ardis, our ward had it worse. Sacrament Meeting was at 7:30 PM, so the farmers could milk the cows before attending. Ed Sullivan was on at 7. (And in those days, I didn’t know any mormons who objected to TV on Sunday. Sunday meant visiting relatives and friends, and usually watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and The Wonderful World of Disney while we were there). But our sacrament meeting time meant that we all could watch the first few minutes of Ed Sullivan, and then had to be pulled away by our parents (who probably wanted to watch it too). So I did see the first fifteen minutes of the one that the Beatles was on. The good thing about the TV schedule was that Gunsmoke was on at 9 PM, and none of the old guys in our ward would have dreamt of missing Gunsmoke, so even though Sacrament Meeting was an hour and a half then, we always got out about 10 minutes early.

Comment by paula — 5/13/2007 @ 12:11 pm | Edit This

#41. Your post brought back memories of 1960s Sunday Night TV. Back then it was no big deal to watch TV on Sundays (this was in the SF Bay Area). My brother and I were big fans of “Bonanza”, “Ed Sullivan”, and “Gunsmoke”.

Anyway, this one Sunday we had to go to my father’s cousin’s house for dinner. They were older (in their 60’s). After dinner the husband turned on the TV; my brother and I are thinking, “Oh good. Finally something to stop the boredom.” (we were both teenagers).

He turns on “Championship Bowling”! After that show, he changes the channel to watch “Lawrence Welk”! We finally got out of there, got home and at least we were able to watch “Gunsmoke”!

Comment by Hans Hansen — 5/13/2007 @ 2:20 pm | Edit This

I remember the bandalos very well. I *coveted* those things and couldn\’t WAIT to get one of my one. One Wednesday afternoon in September, I showed up at the first day of the new Primary year (back when we switched classes at the beginning of the school year) and was told that not only was I *not* going to get to be a Top Pilot (but instead was going to be a Targeteer) but the bandelos were now a thing of the past. I can still remember the HUGE disappointment that news was to me. I felt completely gypped.

Yes, I still have my Merrie Miss banner. The words \”I will radiate the light of the Gospel\” are embroidered on the bottom in fuzzy gold and navy blue yarn. Someone in my class suggested we change our name from the Merrie Miss girls to the Radiators. I thought that was very funny.

Does anyone remember the little bronze bracelets with the brightly colored plastic beads that went into the separate links once you earned them (one was the color of cheddar cheese)? I think those may have been some sort of precursor to Personal Progress. I have mine somewhere, but can\’t remember what they were for.

Comment by Paula Kelly Caryotakis — 6/17/2007 @ 2:52 am | Edit This

Paula–I still have mine, too, but I only got as far as “I WILL RADI…” Probably explains a lot :)

And, hi!!

Comment by Kristine — 6/17/2007 @ 10:21 pm | Edit This

I still have mine, completed in the UK Manchester Stake in the early 60\’s . I had forgotten how I earned some of the jewels so thanks for the reminder! I have an old black and white photograph of Primary where we are wearing them. I remember that there were many variations on the colour of green, some a sickly pale down to the lovely bottle green ones. I remember the Gaynote song (probably can\’t sing that now and my 17 year old son thinks it\’s hilarious that we really sang that!) and the Pilot song my brother sang too. My mum was the Primary \”Mother\” what a wonderful title.
I still have somewhere the blue \”sash\” that we wore in MIA as well.
Lovely memories.

Comment by shirley burgon — 4/16/2008 @ 7:34 am | Edit This

This was published at another blog on 10 May 2007



35 Comments »

  1. Just a comment on bandlo’s elsewhere in the world. I grew up in the 60’s in New Zealand and remember very clearly, the green bandlo’s that we would wear to church on sundays. It was really an exciting thing back in the day!

    Comment by Karen Samaseia — February 9, 2009 @ 4:39 am

  2. Thanks, Karen. I am unsure how widespread the use of bandlos was, so I appreciate hearing about their use in New Zealand.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 9, 2009 @ 6:25 am

  3. we had bandalos in the mission field in san antonio, texas. what were the notes above the lark for? we had a little plastic ring that fit around the post(s) on the backs of the awards. we heated up an ice pick and melted the whole thing! i have my beehive bandalo also, but i don’t remember what most of it represents except the “badges” we completed were similar to the scouting merit badges.

    Comment by nancy hagmann — March 17, 2009 @ 12:11 am

  4. Nancy, I don’t know the specific symbols — yet — I’ll see what I can find. And the Beehive program is a huge thing that needs several whole posts of its own. One of these days …

    Thanks for your additional information about location, and about the way the symbols were fastened on. I can see how that would work, but didn’t have any idea that such a fastening system had been used for bandlos. Great new stuff!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 5:27 am

  5. Ardis,
    I think I have my late 50’s bandelo somewhere – maybe I’ll get it out and wear it at the office today, if it will fit over my head.

    I remember going to the wardhouse kitchen to melt the backs of the emblems to affix them to the bandelo. The smell was an interesting melted plastic with a bit of burned wool. You had to be careful not to get burned while doing the job – I seem to remember a bit of burned skin smell along with the rest of it.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — May 5, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  6. Somehow I suspect the boys’ classes enjoyed that melting process more than the girls’ did. And if you do wear your bandlo, Stephen, by all means, take pictures!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 5, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  7. The 60’s bandlo jogged my brain into songs. Does anyone have the lyrics to the three verses of the “Gaynote Song”? Bits and pieces are coming back to me. Sarah Yamazaki

    Comment by Sarah Yamazaki — August 30, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  8. I have my bandlo. I was 12 in 1953 and grew up in Oregon. My bandlo is maroon, so the change to green either occured later than suggested in the above article (1945), or we were behind times in Oregon. I believe the bars were for the articles of faith and are plastic. The bandlo is exactly as pictured on the left in the second illustration o two bandos above. We were not called Liahonas, but, at least in my memory, were still called Home Builders.

    Comment by Nancy Lund — September 11, 2009 @ 12:35 pm

  9. Here’s my try at the song each girl’s class sang in the 60’s:

    Gaynotes:
    The first thing in the morning, and all day long,
    I will be a Gaynote and sing a happy song.
    I will greet the new day and all it brings,
    With a chearful face, and a heart that sings.

    Firelights:
    ——- and firelight bright
    I will fill the home with radiance and light
    Giving joy to others —-

    Merihands:
    Like blossoms in the spring time —-


    As you can see, I must have paid less and less attention the older I became.

    Comment by Andie — February 4, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  10. Does anyone remember the Lihoma Song? My friends and I just loved that song, and we sang it with all our hearts.

    Lihoma Song
    Lihoma, Lihoma,
    We are of noble birth.
    Lihoma, Lihoma,
    By choice we came to earth.
    Bringing laughter, and sunshine
    To the homes where we may be.
    Ever helpful, and prayerful,
    Looking toward Eternity.
    Lihoma, Lihoma,
    Our mission is divine.
    Lihoma, Lihoma,
    On us God’s light will shine.

    Mottos for Lihoma classes in Primary:

    I will bring the light of the Gospel into my home:

    Gaynotes – age 9 (This year we learned to embroider. We all cross stitched the first part of the Motto)
    By greeting the day with a song

    Firelights – age 10 (This year we learned to knit. We all knitted slippers)
    By giving joy to others

    Merrihands – age 11 (This year we learned to crochet. We all crocheted a curler bag)
    By serving gladly

    Comment by Andie — February 4, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  11. Wow, I am so excited to hear of all the above memories are being stirred. I was in a transition phase and NEVER was able to finish any one of the above, but remember the bandalos, the banner, the cross stitch, the bracet with the glue on plastic color…I loved primary and the joy it brought to my heart. I came from an inactive disfunctional family and it was a breath of fresh air to experience loving teachers and a safe environment.

    Comment by Rebecca — February 16, 2010 @ 10:33 am

  12. Glad you enjoyed it, Rebecca, both the real experience and reliving the memories. It’s funny, but anything I write about Mormon childhood experiences of about this age seem to stir more nostalgia in readers than any other kind of article. It’s got to be something about our stage of development at that age.

    Anyway, I’m glad this brought back good memories!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2010 @ 10:44 am

  13. Wow, what a trip down memory lane. I am 49 years old and still have my top pilot wings, my targateer banner, and my Merrie Miss Marker complete with attachments. The little bracelet thing was called a circlet and I still have that too, complete with beads, however I can’t remember what they were for. I remember my sisters
    bandalo (I just have to add the extra syllable)I too just missed this era as I was born in 1961.

    Comment by Chris — April 7, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

  14. oh thank you all! What wonderful memories you all brought back to me! Today I was working to conserve both my husband’s and my own bandelos (three syllables is how we said it too!) I can provide pictures of both if you would like. I know I earned the bottom round picture, but it is sadly lost or mine would be complete. I looked online to try and find out information on what all the symbols meant and found this wonderful site. I am printing all your comments to put with the bandelos so our children and grandchildren will know what they mean. By the way, I still have my gaynote embrodiery piece and the grannysquare crochet afgan from Merrihands. I made it with bits and pieces from my own grandmothers knitting basket. My knitting piece was a bookbag for junior high, it has not survived. I was desperately jealous of my best friend, DeLynne, who made a crocheted dress, hat and purse for her barbie doll.

    Thank you again for a lovely lovely stroll down memory lane. If you would like to see my pictures let me know and I will forward them.

    My mother taught the blazers for years, she was a true mountain woman and every boy certainly knew his knots before leaving her class!

    Comment by susan anthony — September 6, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

  15. susan – I’d love to see your pictures. Keepa’s email box is: keepapitchinin [at] AOL [dot] com.

    I’m still tickled every time someone finds this old post and enjoys it. So many of us are nostalgic about these tangible relics of our childhoods, and I guess there aren’t too many places to find the information to flesh out our memories. Anyway, I’m always glad that someone is pleased to find this.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 6, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  16. So, I was preparing a talk today about scripture study and I also took a stroll down memory lane. The first place I was introduced to the scriptures was through the Lihoma program when I was 9 and received my first scriptures – The New Testament edition created especially for this program. I got out my bandlo (we also used the 3 syllables) and couldn’t remember what everything represented. I google and came to this website and it was very helpful. Comparing my bandlo and discoverd mine was fully complete. Thanks for the wonderful info.

    Comment by Dena Romriell — September 18, 2010 @ 10:12 am

  17. Great stuff as always, thanks for all the info!

    Comment by BHodges — October 13, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  18. I still have my banner but am missing one of the little metal emblems on the bottom in the top left hand corner. I know this is a long shot, but does anyone out there know where I could find a replacement?

    Comment by Sue — December 10, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  19. Thank you for this great article. I still have my bandalo but I had forgotten what the rhinestones and plastic symbols represented. Now I know why I only have 1 jewel in my house….I never did finish knitting my slippers or crocheting my potholder….but I held on to those unfinished articles for about 30 years then finally threw them out…

    Comment by Carol McReynolds — May 7, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  20. I love this website and the discussions engendered. It’s so good to see all that you remember from Primary and Jr Sunday School and be reminded of some things I had forgotten.

    Does anyone remember the Articles of Faith keywords from the ’60s? I have seen the new ones and they are different from the ones we recited with the Articles of Faith so we could earn the A of F numbers to glue on our bandlos.

    Comment by Gail Cardon — May 24, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  21. You are missing a bandalo…. There was a green one in the 50’s with felt emblems…. The beehive was printed.
    I have a picture but was looking for a copy of the real thing. Good luck.

    Comment by Geneel Scott — June 12, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  22. Geneel, this post is about Primary bandlos. The only ones that ever had beehive symbols were the MIA Beehive Girl bandlos, and yes, they were printed felt symbols (although I am not aware that their bandlos were ever green; I’m only familiar with the blue ones). That would be quite an interesting post but could be written only after a lot more research than I’ve ever done on Beehive accoutrements.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 13, 2011 @ 7:51 am

  23. Sadly, I was in a “glue-it-yourself-with-Elmer’s” ward in the East Seattle Stake (now, Kirkland, Redmond, Bothell, and a Renton Stake? or did they end up elsewhere) anyway, most of my plastic pieces fell off but I certainly memorized all 13 AoF!! (The crusty glue stains proved it).

    My favorite Primary memory is learning how to light a fire in the pouring rain at Guide Patrol Day Camp taught by some Primary ladies. Absolutely amazing dedication to the gospel for which I am eternally grateful!! (as I razz my current Scouts about how much easier it is to start a fire in Utah where you just have to drop a match on the ground – so, be careful with fire! says Smokey Bear – and it is Smokey Bear not “the” as I’ve been in Forest Service HQ in DC and confirmed).

    Comment by Grant — June 13, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  24. Oh, I forgot Bellevue Stake where the Temple now is.

    Comment by Grant — June 13, 2011 @ 11:58 am

  25. To Grant:
    I know you are correct about the name Smokey Bear. Unfortunately, people use Smokey the Bear because of good old Steve Neslon and Jack Rollins who wrote the song about him and added the “the” to keep the correct rhythm in the song. Oh well. At least people know what Smokey stands for. “Only YOU can prevent wildfires.”

    Comment by Andrea Rounds — June 13, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  26. I still have my bandlo from Primary. I turned 12 in 1947, so my bandlo represents those used in the early and mid 40s. The bandlo is green felt, and the badges are felt and are sewn on. The bottom of the bandlo has the diamond and tree that you show in your drawings plus the head of a boy superimposed on the tree.

    By the way, lds.org spells the word bandlo, so I consider that the correct spelling. As comments have brought out, the common pronunciation of the word is “bandalo”, but that pronunciation doesn’t define the spelling.

    Comment by Allen — January 7, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  27. Thanks, Allen — I’m glad to hear of variations and dates that I need to track down.

    Everything I’ve ever seen from the Church, including references in magazines and through all the Primary manuals I’ve searched, is consistent about the spelling “bandlo.” We have periodic attempts to correct general mispronunciation of “Ensign” and “patriarchal” and “paradisiacal” — do you think if we were still using bandlos we’ve have a similar campaign? Come to think of it, I’ve never run into any discussion of the pronunciation published during the approx. 40 years we did use them.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 7, 2012 @ 11:12 am

  28. Here’s the updated version of this post:

    http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2011/01/21/bandlos-old-post-new-illustrations/

    Comment by BHodges — March 29, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  29. […] neck scarf used in the primary organization from the 1920s to the 1950s. See A Bundle of Bandlos at Keepapitchinin. […]

    Pingback by The scope and category of Mormon Terms | A Motley Vision — November 1, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  30. Thank you for the information on the maroon bandelo and the meaning of each plastic piece. Also the motto. I appreciation your taking the time to respond.

    Joy Critchfield

    Comment by Joy Critchfield — November 25, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

  31. I must have completed my bandelo, (bandlo, and we pronounced it with 3 syllables) in 1954 when I was twelve. In my ward in Boise, Idaho, the bandlos were blue. I had a felt bee hive near my left shoulder surrounded with 2 blue flowers, a little yellow bee and a honeycomb emblem. Under it was a lighthouse I made of felt that I got to select as my symbol. I believe it signified “spreading your light to all the World.” I remember sewing these on along with 4 bars; black, gold, a deeper gold, slanted at an angle, and the last maroon bar is straight across. I have a chain near the bottom that is made of several pieces of felt in different colors that are linked together, possibly standing for unity. I had some plastic pieces that fell off and were lost. I still have and treasure my bandelo.

    Comment by Toni Dickey — February 2, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

  32. Toni, you’re describing the Beehive Girl bandlo, used in the MIA program — the color blue, the beehive symbol, the personal and “swarm” symbols, the beelines and the cells, all had meanings of their own. (The green ones described in this post were for Primary, and had much less individual variation than the Beehive bandlos.) Sooner or later I need to write about the symbols on the Beehive version. That program ended just as I was ok’d enough to go into MIA — I was jealous of the girls who got to earn things for their bandlos!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 2, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

  33. I love how the internet is an archive! This discussion has been going on for awhile! I was a Merrie Miss in the late 70’s. Apparently, they stole the class songs of the 60’s for the Merrie Misses.

    The first thing in the morning and all day long,
    I will be a Merrie Miss and sing a happy song.
    I will greet the new day and all it brings
    With a cheerful face and with a heart that sings.

    Like blossoms in the springtime and firelight bright
    I will fill my happy home with radiance and light.
    Giving joy to others in all I do,
    I will be a Merrie Miss the whole day through.

    We embroidered our Merrie Miss Markers with lazy daisy chains. We earned the bronze stickers, that didn’t stick, for things like tithing and church attendance, and the round bubble pictures for memorizing the Articles of Faith. And we didn’t graduate from Primary until we had memorized all of the A of F and their accompanying scriptures! I also learned to crochet in Merrie Miss A and knit in Merrie Miss B.

    Comment by Glenda — May 19, 2014 @ 6:24 am

  34. […] you’re interested in this kind of church history, you should pay a visit to Keepapitchinin, the first blog I ever came across that treats this kind of cultural history seriously. It’s […]

    Pingback by Throw Back Thursday: Top-Pilot Flightbook | THE MORMON HOME — August 21, 2014 @ 9:57 pm

  35. I love the #33 post above! She got it totally right! I remember the song, the embroidery, the non-sticking stickers. I ended up skipping 6th grade and was relieved to not have to finish memorizing the Articles of Faith and their accompanying scriptures. We WERE required to learn to crochet in Merrie Miss A, but I still haven’t learned to knit, since I skipped Merrie Miss B.

    Comment by Patricia Day — August 28, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

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