Seem up the background of splendor pageants and you will not come across Edith Mae Patterson shown as the really initial Pass up The usa. But according to a St. Louis newspaper and thousands of her admirers in 1920s and early ’30s Arkansas, that she was.
At to start with, in Oct 1921, the 19-year-aged schoolteacher from Pine Bluff was merely a finalist in a photo contest. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat was established to obtain the most wonderful lady in America. (9 newspapers did anything like this in 1921, in accordance to a heritage posted on the web-site of the Skip The usa Pageant.) The Globe-Democrat was a person of two huge everyday newspapers then serving St. Louis and had subscribers all above the place, including in Arkansas.
Patterson’s aunt, Mrs. W.J. Miller, submitted Patterson’s photograph to the World-Democrat with no telling her. Miller also sent in the younger woman’s crucial figures:
Height: 5 toes, 7 inches weight, 127 lbs bust, 36 inches waistline, 26 inches hips, 37 inches. Wears 51/2 dimensions triple A footwear gloves, dimension 6 eyes, dark blue hair, dark brown with blackish cast complexion, obvious, fantastic, all-natural coloring Grecian form: statuesque proportions.
Her aunt understood these measurements from stitching her niece’s outfits.
On Oct. 6, 1921, based mostly on that photograph, a few artist/judges declared Patterson the “U.S. District” winner — that is, the most photogenic lady in 46 states. Missouri and Illinois had been not involved in this U.S. District. Every of them and the metropolis of St. Louis was a unique district, and each individual had its have most photogenic finalist.
The newspaper then summoned the finalists to St. Louis, to meet up with the judges.
Her prizes incorporated $1,000 and a week in St. Louis (and $1,000 then experienced around the acquiring ability of $15,300 today). In addition to remaining judged, she satisfied a theater manager named William Goldman and B.J. Derby of Paramount Images Corp. The Arkansas Gazette reported:
“Miss Patterson’s community things to do will be filmed from the time she reaches St. Louis until eventually she leaves. This film will be proven in the local theater and later shown in the Paramount Weekly.”
In other phrases, she was likely to star in a newsreel.
This news had no faster strike the fans than S.W. Benton, president of the Pine Bluff Promoting Club, arranged a general public reception at the Hotel Pines. Hostesses bundled Patterson’s fellow users of The Pollyanna Club, a social club of women who considered in obtaining fantastic attitudes and being good.
She was only a 1st-calendar year instructor, but Lakeside faculty administrators excused her from her fourth-quality courses at Pine Bluff so she could vacation to St. Louis. The Hotel Pines hosted a bon voyage dinner for 50 of her relations. 3 hundred buddies and a band noticed her off at Union Station in Very little Rock.
Four a long time afterwards, looking again above her (stunning) profession, she advised the Gazette that elegance contests were just magnificence contests in 1921.
She explained the judges interviewed the district winners separately.
She wore common clothing, and swimsuits ended up not concerned. Maybe it helped Patterson that she was a 1918 graduate of Pine Bluff Higher School who had underneath her belt a year of faculty at Rice Institute at Houston. But:
“They just created us stand on a chair, convert about, walk and communicate.”
She was effectively obtained in the significant city. Goldman held receptions in her honor at his 4,000-seat theater, and a Globe-Democrat reporter, Fred H. Brennan, made a prolonged essay examining her magnificence from an “creative” standpoint.
“In advance of placing Overlook Patterson on a figurative pedestal,” he wrote, “it is only fair to state that the pictures so significantly posted in relationship with the contest did not do her justice. By some queer perversity of lights and shadows, the digital camera extra at minimum 20 lbs to her body weight. Her experience, which appeared in a also-round oval, is in truth, extremely refined and just about aesthetic in its lineaments. This fact was pointed out at at the time by the judges when they known as her in advance of them for the concluding test. The arrangement of her hair also was unfortunate as the lightness of contours was dropped in the copy. The profile slash [photo] was particularly bad.”
She “leaves just one with the unique impact of her poise,” he included. “She is Junoesque. Her carriage, without currently being also athletic and muscular, presents the recommendation of dignity.”
Also, she did not slouch or wander about needlessly. And he preferred her persona, which was pleasant. She was “a female you would like to know,” he mentioned.
The clothiers who handled the wardrobe that came with her prize declared her “a ideal dimension 18.” None of her gowns or frocks had to be altered.
Functions massive and smaller greeted her return to Pine Bluff.
On Nov. 4, she was one particular of the marketed points of interest for a motorcade to Judsonia and the opening of a hydroelectric dam. As the Democrat described, she christened the Arkansas Hydro-Electric Growth Firm’s Dam No. 1 right after speeches by dignitaries. She strike the dam with a bottle of Hot Springs water “whilst suspended many hundred ft higher than the river in the tram-automobile on the aerial cableway among the cliffs on either aspect of the stream.”
The Globe-Democrat pronounced Patterson its over-all winner Nov. 6: the most attractive woman in The us. She failed to know about that till she picked up a duplicate of the St. Louis paper at the Lodge Marion in Tiny Rock, in which she was creating however yet another appearance.
Motion picture cameras captured the scene Nov. 7 when Pine Bluff celebrated the glory she experienced brought to all Arkansas. A band performed “Oh, You Gorgeous Doll,” and 2,000 Cotton Belt workers turned out to cheer (her father, Arch Patterson, was foreman of the railroad shop’s mechanical division).
The Nov. 13 Democrat described that a delegation from the Monticello Chamber of Commerce showed up at Lakeside school in Pine Bluff, hoping she would oversee the spudding-in of an oil effectively. She would pull the lever, sending the rotary drill into the earth. The report said:
“All intrigued in the job believe that an Arkansas woman, and the nation’s prize-profitable elegance at that, will carry very good luck to an Arkansas oil perfectly, and there has been a alternative block of 40 acres established aside for Overlook Patterson which will be provided to her as element of the ceremony prepared in link with the spudding-in of the very well.”
At first she begged off mainly because she now experienced much too several appearances booked that 7 days, but then transformed her intellect and recognized the invitation to go to Monticello and pull that lever.
Like a contemporary Miss The united states, she experienced night robes, fur coats and jewelry and was sent on a whirlwind tour of details north and east to publicize products and solutions.
And the appearances — in man or woman, on radio, in newsreels — experienced only just started. Even among the all those documented in Arkansas newspapers there were being much as well a lot of for me to go on typing about them currently (and not only mainly because I just got my booster dose of anti-covid vaccine and my arm hurts). So, permit us draw a line here and appear again to this story an additional day.
What is that you stated, Good friend Reader? You happen to be wondering why the title Edith Mae Patterson is not acquainted? And the place is her entry in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas?
Would it ring some bells were being I to inform you that she acquired married, and her past title grew to become Pennington?
In reality, we are conversing about the Rev. Edith Mae Pennington, the countrywide attractiveness queen who cast off her furs and make-up to develop into an itinerant evangelist for Jesus.
Keep tuned for extra.