By Melinda Caroll. In August of 1997, the beginning stages of “Girl Scouts Greatest Hits”, I was contemplating songs for the album and looking in particular for one about Juliette Low, Founder of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. My dear friend, Joyce Richards, Executive Director of Girl Scout Council of Hawai’i, was visiting me at my ranch on the Big Island of Hawai’i one night, when I mentioned to her that I was having trouble finding a song about Juliette and was thinking of trying to write one myself. Both Joyce and I had read “Lady From Savannah” and another biography of her life, and we talked that night of Juliette’s extraordinary accomplishments and what a brave and pioneering woman she had to have been in her day and time. We felt that a song should be directed to the Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts®, so that ‘Juliette’ would become a familiar name to them.
I went to sleep that night after playing a little on my guitar and not really getting any fresh ideas. At about 2:00 a.m., I awoke with a melody and lyric playing in my head. As is my habit, I grabbed my hand recorder on the bed stand and sleepily sang what I heard into it, I then rolled over and went back to sleep. The next morning, bright and early, I took my recorder into the kitchen to hear what I had taped. On the recording I had sung in a lullaby style:
“Juliette of the Vesper Plain, every Girl Scout knows your name.
Your light shines through the shadows of the cold dark night.
Juliette, our Guiding Star, shining down from where you are.
For every girl who follows in the stardust of your dreams.”
The melody was sweet and the words seemed appropriate, but I truly had no idea what a Vesper Plain was, except in a Catholic prayer context. I asked Joyce if she knew what it meant and she also thought it was a prayer. We decided to look it up in a dictionary. After searching the house, we finally found one and there in the first definition was:
“Ves-per (ves’ – per) n. The evening star, Venus.
The first star at sunset over the western plain,
often used by navigators to set or chart their course.”
We both got “chicken skin”, as we say in Hawai’i (or “goose bumps” if you live on the mainland), for we felt this was a fitting description of our mentor, Juliette, for her guiding inspiration to Girl Scouts everywhere! For just a split second, we even imagined Juliette smiling down at our delight and surprise and took it as a sign to complete the song and the album.
In November, 1997, after finishing the song and getting the basic tracks and vocals recorded, Joyce had the great idea to send a copy to a dear friend of ours, NASA astronaut and scientist, Dr. Tammy Jernigan. Tammy had been assigned to a mission on board the Columbia Shuttle that was scheduled to be launched that same month.
Tammy listened to the song and asked permission to take a copy up on her flight. Permission was given through all the appropriate channels and on Thursday, November 20, 1997, at 9:45 p.m., mission control came on line and announced, “Columbia, Houston, as you get ready for your sleep period, we’ve got some special music for you to listen to, especially Tammy.” The song “Juliette” was then played by Mission Control, who beamed it up to the space shuttle Columbia, while broadcasting it to every satellite that received their signal around the planet Earth. The song was heard simultaneously by millions of people.
Joyce and I breathlessly listened from the University of Hawai’i’s main computer center trying to take in the historical significance of what was transpiring. We decided that Juliette, herself, had arranged the entire production! We could not imagine a more fitting honor for our wonderful founder of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., than to have the debut of her signature song heard by the whole world all at once! This was definitely Juliette’s style, only she would have probably been up in the spaceship herself! Tammy’s closing words were ” On behalf of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., past and present, thank you . . . (for) honoring Girl Scouts.” Ground control responded “. . . for Girl Scouts around the World!”