THE WAY IT WAS--WHEN IT WAS BETTER.
I don't believe in coincidences. Very early on a Monday Morning in 2017--I was online, looking for Willie Nelson's song about No Peace Anymore when I noticed a video titled: Miss America, 1959, on the same page.
I was Miss Arkansas 1958—and The Miss America Pageant was also listed as 1958 for that year. So---I assumed this video was about the Pageant for the next year. Somewhat intrigued, since Anita Bryant and I were invited-back to the 1959 Pageant as part of the Pageant's Court of Honor, I decided to watch it.
I clicked on the link and there it was--the final night of the 1958 Miss America Pageant. Suddenly, I found myself back inside Convention Auditorium in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was 1958 all over again and there I am, on stage, competing in the TOP TEN in the Miss America Pageant. Stunned to see myself, again, after almost sixty years...I watched as I modeled my evening gown, my swimsuit, and, of course, I cried when I performed my talent.
I was so young then--- only nineteen years old---and maybe if I'd had a few more years, a little more experience, BUT---each one of us was young---with not-much experience yet, most importantly, we were all ladies.
We were selected as Beauty Queens to represent our states with class and elegance. We were totally female---nothing false or phony—and nothing about us was distasteful or crude.
Each of us had been chosen to represent our home state in The Miss America Pageant. As young ladies, we were expected to portray the best within us. We displayed our perfect manners and years of proper upbringing; we demonstrated our poise and sincerity and proudly showed-off our ladylike charm.
From childhood, young girls in the fifties were taught to be ladies, regardless of our "station" in life. Whether we dreamed of being Miss America or a school teacher, a secretary, or a mother, life required that we be Ladies-- first. Being a Lady meant white gloves, hats, hose, heels, appropriate attire, and excellent manners for every day and every occasion. It meant knowing the art of conversation, including the proper way to meet people, speak with confidence and--- most importantly--- know when to remain silent.
After sharing yesterday's piano heartbreak, when I was forced to sell my Steinway Piano, I know I was meant to find today's video. The video is long... it's the final night of the 1958 Miss America Pageant to select Miss America for 1959....but for me....it’s the best gift I've received in years. It's like being chosen to re-live the most magical day of my life! I'm forever thankful for this priceless surprise.
The video shows the pageant's top ten finalists modeling evening gowns, swimsuits, and performing our talents. Then the judges choose the top five, and, at last, the winner.
No, I didn't make the top five, I wasn't chosen Miss America, 1959, but...singing before thousands in Atlantic City's Convention Auditorium...and singing to millions at home, watching TV....was-indeed- my crowning moment.
Most importantly, my Father was in the audience and....all those years later, he spoke of that moment as the highlight of his life. To him, I would always be Miss America.
When you finish this post you can return to my home page, go to the top of the page, click "MORE" then find "TOP TEN VIDEO", and watch me and nine other girls compete--again--AS THE TOP TEN FINALISTS FOR MISS AMERICA 1959.
PS...Years after the pageants ended, I enjoyed the friendship of Bernie Wayne, a songwriter/producer and composer of music. I had the opportunity to work with Bernie at several Miss Arkansas Pageants...and sing many of his original songs.
Regardless of his successes, Bernie was still best-know in entertainment circles, on Broadway, and around the world for two memorable songs: BLUE VELVET and Miss America's Theme Song....THERE SHE IS.
I particularly like the part of the Miss America song that says "With so many beauties she took the town by storm, with her All American Face and Form and....there she is----walking on air, she is----fairest of the fair, she is....Miss America."
I was fortunate to grow up in an America that awarded people for reaching far-beyond themselves to be the best they could be. In those days, a "commitment to excellence" was more than just words.
Having lived during a time when life was simple but disciplined; when all of us followed life's basic rules; when we all respected our heritage and traditions and honored God as our creator--- I agree it was the greatest of times and truly---The Greatest Generation.
ANOTHER PS- Bernie's lyrics never describe the "Queen of Femininity" as being crude, rude, obnoxious, ugly-talking or ugly-acting.
In those days, there was no mention of community bathrooms, or cosmetic alterations, nor was there even a hint that a contestant might be a cross-dresser or a transsexual.