I REMEMBER "THE WAY IT WAS"...AS EVEN BETTER.
IF YOU REALLY KNOW ME, THEN….you know 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.
In 1958, I was officially crowned: Miss Arkansas 1958. That year’s Miss America Pageant was also listed as 1958. So---I assumed this 1959 video was about the Pageant for the next year. Since Anita Bryant and I were invited-back to serve as the 1959 Pageant's Court of Honor.…I clicked on the link to check-it-out.
And there--to my surprise--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, common, 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...We 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 movie star, a secretary, or a mother... life required us to 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 and watch 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 most exciting gift I've received in years. It's like being chosen to re-live the most magical moment 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 those millions at home, watching The Miss America Pageant on live TV, was my crowning moment.
Most importantly, my Father was in the audience. All those years later, he spoke of that experience as the highlight of his life; I would always be his Miss America.
When you finish this post you can return to my home page, go to the top of the page, click "MORE", find "TOP TEN VIDEO", and watch me and nine other girls compete--again--AS THE TOP TEN FINALISTS FOR MISS AMERICA 1959.
PS...Years later, I continued to enjoy the friendship of Bernie Wayne, a famous songwriter/producer and composer of popular 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 best-know 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." Bernie's lyrics never describe the "Queen of Femininity" as being crude, rude, obnoxious, ugly-talking or ugly-acting.
I was fortunate to grow up in an America that encouraged people to reach far-beyond themselves and be the best they could be. In those days, a "commitment to excellence" was more than just words.
I was fortunate to live 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. Yes, it was truly---The Greatest Generation.