Sunday, May 9, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 37

#37 - "Practice your Miss America walk and graceful hands."
 My husband Crouse and I in Port Aransas – we were 40-something – and to think that this is the body I always hated, and would now kill to have!

Although lots of people joke about beauty pageants, when I was growing up they were paragons of beauty, grace and status for women. We never missed watching the Miss America Pageant, always cheering for Miss Texas of course. Mom was determined that one of us girls (four daughters) would be a beauty queen, so practicing the Miss America walk and graceful hands was imperative.  She taught me a million times to walk with my head up, shoulders back, a smile plastered on my face, making eye-contact at all times! Several friends have said, “Ah yes, the book on the head thing,” but it was much more than that, it was the Miss America Walk, designed to convey confidence, very subtle sexual promise, and a virginity in tact! Click on Read More Below...

Then there were the graceful hands. Mom just about drove us all crazy with the graceful hands thing. She would splay out her hand and say, “Not like this!” Then curl in her fingers, gracefully sweeping the air into an elegant pose.  What’s funny is that when I recently went to see my granddaughter’s ballet dance recital (hours of excruciating boredom, punctuated by moments of ecstasy), I presented her with flowers and said, “You know why you looked so lovely?” “Because your chin was up and your hands were graceful!”

The closest I ever came to the Miss America Walk was when I was crowned Miss Ooola of 1966, a local beauty pageant - OK laugh here - and was invited to enter the Miss Texas pageant. I cannot tell you how disappointed my mom was that I refused. I didn’t want to be Miss Texas; I wanted to be Mrs. H. C. Noelke III.  Two months out of high school, I had an engagement ring and was headed for marital bliss!

My other two brushes with “Miss” pageants were with Jobeth Chandler and Phyllis George. Although I don’t remember the outcome, I vaguely remember local gal, Jobeth Chandler, competing in the Miss Texas contest. Since she reads this blog, perhaps she’ll let us know. Jobeth went on to marry E. J. Holub, a two-time All-American and a member of the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs. Jobeth and her sister Charlena were high school icons of beauty to me when I was a little girl.

I also remember Phyllis George, Miss Dallas, Miss Texas, and my cousin’s girlfriend, winning Miss America shortly after spending a weekend with us at the ranch. Phyllis went on to become one of the first females to have a nationally prominent role in television sports coverage, and Kentucky’s First Lady.  
I remember like yesterday us standing by the water tank and Phyllis holding her stick-thin arms toward the sun, saying she always took the opportunity to tan whenever she could. She was of course a perfect, luscious caramel color. I also remember thinking, wow; I guess that’s what it takes to be Miss Texas.

So mom was right. Why stop at being smart, accomplished and a person of good character? Why not have it all, including beauty and grace!  You just have to practice!


  1. I'm blushing! Honestly, I was much more the girl next door type, not the beauty queen. But you should have been a pageant winner, judging by that swimsuit pic. My goodness. And I didn't know you were Miss Ooola - guess that's enough fame for anyone. My daughter also had that title and it's kind of become a teasing point now. But serious at the time! And I loved your Mom's pointers on beauty and grace. Charlena

  2. You were both Charlena, the beautiful girl next door. As far as the bathing suit photo, mom always said us Wade girls were late bloomers! Ha!

    I didn't know that Anne was also a Miss Ooola - indeed a title destined to serve as fodder for jokes!