Monday, October 10, 2011

Gramma was a Beauty Queen?!

As I was going through my grandmother's scrapbooks this summer, probably around the second or third one, I come across an article about my grandmother.  It turns out she was a candidate for Yankton County Harvest Queen (South Dakota) in 1939!  The article describes her having a lead of around 10,000 votes, with only a week left to cast ballots.

To say I was surprised is an understatement!  I never knew she had been in a beauty contest!  Then I saw a few more articles ...

SHE WON!  Holy cow!  She was Queen Maxine, third Harvest Queen of Yankton County.  I said, "Gramma, you never told me you were a beauty queen!" and she said, "Oh, that."  That was it.  Very humble and modest, my grandmother.

There was a big to-do about the coronation, and the Governor of South Dakota, Harlan Bushfield, even came out to crown the Queen!  The first dance at the Coronation Ball with Her Majesty was reserved for the Governor.  My grandmother is about 5 feet tall.  The Governor stands over 6 feet.  Gramma laughed when I asked her and said, "All I could see practically was his belt buckle!  I was so glad when it was over."

 "Governor Harlan Bushfield, who had come to Yankton especially to perform the rite, placed the glittering crown upon the head of Miss Maxine Slowey to make her Queen Maxine -- a dainty, diminutive sovereign in pink velvet."
Queen Maxine and her court
"Queen Maxine and her maids of honor who will hold court tonight at the high school auditorium, when the queen, Maxine Slowey, of Utica, will receive her crown at the hands of Gov. Bushfield.   Queen Maxine is shown here in her royal robes and crown.  The maids of honor are: left, above, Marcella Schmidt, of Menominee, Nebr.; right, above:, Angela Cwach, Yankton, Rt. 1; left, below: Anne Madsen, Mission Hill, Rt. 1; right, below: May Wood, of Lesterville."

As if the coronation wasn't enough, the Queen also gets a parade!  "Governor Bushfield and Mayor Crockett escorted Queen Maxine (Maxine Slowey, of Utica) through the streets of Yankton, leading the parade held Tuesday afternoon as part of the annual Harvest Festival and coronation ceremony.  In the rear seat of the open car are, left to right, Governor Bushfield, Queen Maxine and Mayor Crockett, S.G. Donaldson, who arranged the coronation program at the high school auditorium last night and was master of ceremonies for the event, is in the front seat with the driver."

These are close-up photos of the actual coronation: 

... and a panoramic view of the entire coronation production:

All the pomp and circumstance aside, what was the real prize here?

October 3, 1939
Dear Miss Slowey:
We are inclosing [sic] a check for $25.00, first prize, and wish to congratulate you on having been elected our 1939 Harvest Queen.
The merchandise prizes are at the Chamber of Commerce office, in the City Hall, and you may have them any time you call.
Hoping the same splendid success is with you in all future ventures, we are
Sincerely yours,

And, ever the gracious ruler ... she sends a thank you card:

I always knew I was descended from royalty ...


Susan Clark said...

Pure joy to read first thing this morning! I bow before both you and your regal grandmother.

Carol said...

This is a delightful post! Well done. Totally enjoyed with my morning coffee. Thank you.

Michelle Goodrum said...

What an awesome story. It was a great way to start my day.

Jenny Lanctot said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed it. I had such fun reading through all those articles, and was amazed that my grandmother just shrugged the whole thing off. I guess once you get to be 89 years old, everything is old hat LOL.

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