MY LEGS TOOK ME TO THE MISS AMERICA FINALS AND THE LENGTH OF THE GREAT WALL!
Everybody can’t be a winner. I don’t recall feeling disappointed when Miss Mississippi won the title of Miss America 1959.Earlier in the evening, performing before an audience of millions, I achieved my crowning moment.
The next day, an official pageant envelope appeared under my hotel door. The enclosed letter announced I had been chosen for next year’s Miss America Pageant’s Court of Honor and would be a featured entertainer each night of the pageant. The pageant committee also selected Anita Bryant, Miss Oklahoma 1958, for the Court of Honor and assigned us to room together.
Without waiting, my official chaperone, Dorothy, quickly announced her own surprise. Dorothy and her husband, Tom, a State Senator, owned a newspaper in Brinkley, Arkansas. As a newspaper editor, my chaperone received press privileges, including an official press badge and a seat in the press box beside the runway.
And, Dorothy got to vote in the national press’s exclusive beauty contest. The national press had its own behind-the-scenes pageant to choose three contestants, each with a specific attribute: most-exciting breasts, most fantastic butt, and best-looking legs. With great ceremony, my chaperone whipped out a printed copy of the National Press-Official Winners for 1958 and placed it in my hand. There, in the middle of the page, in a swimsuit photo beside the category... Best-Looking Legs....was ME!
I could hardly wait to show the page to both my Mother and...my brother’s best friend. Those were the two people who always referred to my legs as “Bird-Legs!” Such sweet revenge, in more ways than one.