I WAS YOUNG, INEXPERIENCED, AND ILL-PREPARED--TO KICK ASS.
In my new role as Miss Arkansas, 1958, life lost no time teaching me about the real world.
Several weeks after competing in the Miss America Pageant, I received a congratulatory letter from Wayne Stone, The President of Simmons Bank—the largest and oldest bank in my hometown of Pine Bluff. (Wayne Stone is seated-far left-in this photo of Pine Bluff Leaders).
The Bank President said-- in honor of being selected as a finalist in the Miss America Pageant--I was receiving a Simmons Bank Checking Account. 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 deposit of one thousand dollars.
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 bank’s 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 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 Mr. Stone, but I’m supposed to meet my father at Mr. Huselton's service station--just across the street-- to have my tires rotated and I’m already late. Thanks again 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 escorting 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 kept caressing my butt.
Thank goodness the President’s office was located on the mezzanine, just a quick elevator ride to the lobby.