Cover of The Saturday Evening Post, May 15, 1937
The title “Queen of the May” is used as a double joke. The phrase literally goes back to Maia, the Roman goddess of Spring, for whom celebrations have been devoted since antiquity, and there are still locales that continue this tradition of electing a girl to lead a May Day parade to celebrate the season.
May is also the season for Spring-cleaning, and the majority of cleaning maids in America in Leyendecker’s day were Irish.
Bringing the two ideas back together, Maia represents purity and growth, and so, ironically, does J.C.L.’s charwoman. Her bandana stands in for the queen’s traditional tiara. She is set on a raised dais of honor, and J.C. arranges the maid’s tools as if they were heraldic devices for royalty.