EVEN HIGHLY-SUCCESSFUL- BANK PRESIDENTS CAN BE "DIRTY, OLD MEN."
Many girls dream of wearing a crown. There’s a Cinderella magic associated with a crown, a certainty that once you wear the crown you’ll have it all: fame, fortune, the happy ending, and best of all---the Prince. Every Saturday, from childhood through my teen years, I visited the public library. I well remember the Saturday I saw a magazine cover featuring the newly-crowned Bess Myerson, Miss America, 1945. I quickly switched from being a movie star during pretend-playtime----to being a beauty queen. Discarded lace curtains became my flowing train and an old wire light fixture easily twisted into a crown.
Eventually I had to grow up and pretend-playtime had to end. Even today, I miss it. Those times in front of the dresser-mirror--- pretending, creating make-believe, and playing dress-up---were my safe times. More than anything, I loved having fun with the little girl in me. Too bad my pretend world and my real world had nothing in common.
In my new role as Miss Arkansas, life lost no time teaching me about the real world. Only weeks after winning the state title, I received a congratulatory letter from the President of Simmons Bank---the largest and oldest bank in my hometown of Pine Bluff. The bank president said, in honor of my recent success, he had opened a bank account in my name. He asked me to contact his secretary so I could sign the necessary papers and pick up my new checks. Of course, the bank had opened the new account with a deposit of twenty-five dollars which, in those days, was considered an impressive gesture. Today, there’s not a beauty queen worth her crown who would say “thank you” for less than a one thousand dollar deposit.
The day of my bank appearance, I dressed in my nicest suit and best accessories. It wasn’t every day a young girl was invited to meet the president of a prestigious bank. When the president’s personal secretary escorted me to the president’s private elevator to reach his very-private office, I was impressed. She introduced me to the bank’s president and, after the official photographer snapped a few photos, both the secretary and the photographer left the room.
The bank president made a little small talk then described watching me on television the final night of the Miss America Pageant and how good I looked in my swimsuit. He paused for a moment---before complimenting me on my very pretty legs, emphasizing how long and sexy they looked on his large television screen. Caught off-guard and slightly embarrassed, I didn’t know how to answer so I simply thanked him and---waited. There was an awkward silence just before he asked me to stand and lift my skirt so he could get a better-look at my long legs. Shocked, I was unable to respond until--- suddenly, I thought of pretend-playtime--- glanced at my watch, and began walking, tall and proud, toward the door.
Just like Susan Hayward, the classic actress, I smiled sweetly and said “I’m so sorry sir, but I’m supposed to meet my father at the service station to have my tires rotated and I’m already late. Thanks for the bank account and I’m sure we’ll see each other soon.”
Apparently not a man who missed many opportunities, the bank president insisted on seeing me to the lobby---by way of his private elevator. During the ride down, Wayne---as he insisted I call him--- locked me in a big bear- hug while one of his hands brazenly fondled and caressed my butt.
Thank goodness the President's office was located on the mezzanine, only a short elevator ride to the lobby.