Mar. 21, 2020

A BRIEF ENCOUNTER WITH A LASTING IMPACT.

 

"It was difficult to contain my excitement. One year, I was a contestant in the 1958 Miss America Pageant and the next year,I'm a featured entertainer in the 1959 Miss America Pageant!

Anita Bryant, Miss Oklahoma and 1958 finalist,  was also chosen to be a featured entertainer. We’d been placed together as roommates and were invited to join the celebrity judges in attending exclusive cocktail parties and press conferences.  I planned on making strong contacts at every event to help launch my singing career.

We had barely finished unpacking when Anita announced she had two tickets for her friend’s performance at Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier. Two hours later, I was all-alone with Anita’s friend and America’s heartthrob, Ricky Nelson. For the first time in months I laughed, had fun, and felt completely happy. Midnight came too soon and, hand-in-hand, Ricky and I walked the deserted boardwalk to my hotel. He surprised me with several romantic kisses then asked to see me the next evening.

With lips still tingling, I danced off the elevator and down the hall to my room. If only I could have ignored the note taped to my hotel door telling me to return my mother’s phone call. My mother’s shocking news: Jack planned to surprise me the next day by flying to Atlantic City! Devastated, I left a phone message at Ricky’s hotel, cancelling our future plans. Like ships passing in the night, our paths never crossed again.

Jack arrived the next morning, a poster boy for the quote: “You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” His shoes were un-shined, his socks were dirty white, and he wore a faded “wash and wear suit.” His first words were memorable: “God damn, everything about this place is expensive! I hate Yankee Country and all the money-hungry Jews who live here! I hope you know my damn plane ticket was my salary for the next two months and I still have to pay for my trip home!!”

That day, all my windows of opportunity slammed-shut and all my good times-- ended".

Sally Miller