Today, May 2, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will crown its 2014 queen in Winchester, VA. In 1933 that honor went to a 23-year old Girl Scout leader, Françoise May.
Françoise was the eldest daughter of Paul May, the Belgian ambassador to the United States. She had been an active Girl Guide in Belgium, and when her father was posted to the United States in 1931, she immediately signed up with the Washington, DC, area Girl Scouts. She became captain (leader) of Troop 53, and the troop grew so large that it divided into 53 and 53A. Françoise became a popular speaker about the Girl Guides and a staff member for Camp May Flather. She was awarded the Thanks Badge for her efforts.
Her younger sisters, Ghislane and Elisabeth, also joined Troop 53.
The entire troop traveled to Winchester for the coronation ceremony.
Troop member Virginia Hammerley, who later joined the staff of the Girl Scouts of Washington, DC, kept detailed scrapbooks of Troop 53’s activities, including many clippings and items from the coronation of Queen Françoise. Her scrapbooks are in the archives of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital.
Ambassador May died suddenly in July 1934. When Françoise, her sisters, and their mother returned to Belgium, “Ginger” Hammerley succeeded her as troop captain.
Her touching farewell letter to the troop may be downloaded in its entirety by clicking here.