Joan Boos- then known as Joan Lovering- moved from her small Maine town during World War II to Washington to help in the war effort. She was named one of the 48 original Cherry Blossom princesses for the Cherry Blossom Festival in 1948, just three years after the end of World War II. She also was the first nominee from the Maine State Society to the festival. Mrs. Boos spoke with The Washington Times’ Dan Jackson at an event this week at the Library of Congress about her experience.
Q. It was during World War II that you joined the Maine State Society?
A. Yes, there was a lady from Calais, my town, who had been in Washington for many years, and so when I came, she wanted me to get into the society. And that’s what I did.
Q. And that’s how you became a princess.
A. Well you see, I was dating a friend of [my future husband] and his mother was the president of the Maine State Society. We were a lively group, and she liked me, and she pushed me, and that’s how I became the princess.
Q. What was your most vivid memory of being a princess?
A. [The festival] was cut short because it just rained. We had Saturday. That was all. [To get to the festival], we went down the Potomac. We each had a boat. Each princess had an escort, and each had a boat, and we landed down at Hains Point.
Q. So while you were there, I heard you met your husband of 61 years.
A. He decided on the day of the festival, he would come down to Hains Point to see what I looked like. His friend kept on talking about this girl he knew. So I ended up marrying him.
Q. This was the first festival after World War II. [The festival, first staged in 1935, was not held during World War II and was revived in 1947.] What was the relationship with Japan at this time?
A. As far as I know, it was friendly. I mean, I think people were a little bit cautious. The Japanese were there, but there [weren’t] any Japanese of our particular age. I wasn’t among them.
Q. In the 1980s, the princesses switched to a white dress. What was your dress like?
A. Oh, mine was beautiful. Garfinckel’s [department store] was the place in town - very expensive. I had never, never visited the store. There was a lady there from the Maine State Society who was a friend of our family. You sat down, and people walked around showing you dresses they had on. You had to sit, and they brought them out. I remember it was $100, and in those days, it was a lot of money. I felt kind of guilty. I liked the dress, but I didn’t think they should pay that much money for it. The lady that was with me was from the society [and she] said, “Oh well, I’ll take care of it.”
Q. How did people back home in Maine react to the news?
A. I came from a small town, and I had friends back there. I came back home for the first time, and not one asked me about it. Not one. And I thought, ‘This is like a small town. I could say, but that would be bragging.’ But I kept waiting for them to ask me.