80-year anniversary of the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant this weekend
Posted on August 17, 2013
From the Cambridge News & the Independent
by Amy Alder
The annual Harvest Festival held at Lake Ripley each year drew hundreds of visitors to Cambridge. However, the 26th annual event in 1933 became one of the largest and most memorable to local and statewide visitors alike namely because the Miss Wisconsin competition which was staged during the event.
1933 Harvest Festival ad
This Sunday, Aug. 18 marks the 80th year anniversary of one of the biggest days that the Cambridge area was under the spotlight.
Some local residents and surviving participants of the Miss Cambridge and Miss Wisconsin competitions recall memories of that special time in the summer of 1933.
The two-day pageant, or-ganized at Community Park on the shores of Lake Ripley on Aug. 17 and 18, 1933, was a celebrated gathering of beauties from around Wisconsin. State-wide entrants from nearby small towns to larger cities from across the state participated in the outdoor competition. It would be the first and last time in state pageant history that the Miss Wisconsin winner would be chosen outdoors and on the shores of a lake.
The primary sponsor of the popular summertime event was the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, led by chamber president Orlando H. Perry. Major sponsors promoted on posters and in articles published weekly in The Cambridge News included Thos. C. Olson & Company, Madison Transit Co., and the Edward Phillips & Sons Company; baked goods served during the festival were provided by the Cambridge Bakery; and fresh meats at concession stands were furnished by the Anderson Brothers of Cambridge.
Documents found at the Cam-bridge Historical Museum provide evidence that Mr. Perry had hired Jack Miller of Waukesha, a noted arial stuntman, to perform parachute jumps from 3,000 elevation for $80 during the festival at Community Park.
The Harvest Festival, which was promoted by dazzling eye-catching posters and daily newspaper coverage in the Wisconsin State Journal, included a flower show, a Venetian Night of "beautiful floats and colored light spectacular", two baseball games, kittenball (now known as softball) "of Southern Wisconsin's strongest teams," the WCLO Midway featuring three big radio shows, a Cambridge Merchants Exhibit, several Vaudeville acts, a water carnival, and of course - the crowning of Miss Wisconsin of 1933.
Prior to the two-day Miss Wisconsin pageant, the community had another important task to complete - he selection of Miss Cambridge, the city entry into the state competition.
Weeks leading up the the Aug. 14, 1933 city competition held at the Chamber of Commerce Hall, The Cambridge News posted early favorites of area young women who were nominated to appear on ballots for citizens to vote for their favorite finalists for the title. Nearly a dozen women with the highest vote totals would advance to compete for the city honors during a gala event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
1933 Harvest Festival ad
Winning the chance to represent Cambridge in the famed Miss Wisconsin beauty competition, was red-haired lass Anna Onstad Lee of Cambridge. After nearly three weeks of community voting by the public at various Cambridge area businesses, she emerged as the winner at the finale city pageant with 862,000 votes just four days before the state pageant.
Born in the Town of Christiana on Nov. 9, 1915 as the fourth child of Edwin and Tillie S. (Kingland) Lee, the new Miss Cambridge developed worth ethic while she was employed at her brother's garage and auto dealership on Main Street at the time of her victory.
Placing first runner-up to Lee with 53,500 votes was Isabel Dorothea Wikum, the daughter of farmers Andrew and Julia (Johnson) Wikum of the Town of Rutland; followed by Hazel Adeline Reiner, the daughter of Albert and Josie (Johnson) Reiner of the Town of Christiana.
The remaing finalists were Lucille Grubel, Jeannette Olive Rindahl (who was Mrs. George W. Anderson when she died in November 2008), and Eleanore Perry and Alice Anderson.
Wikum, a Stoughton native now known as Isabel Wikum Countryman of Belvidere,Ill.., reminisced several years ago about her entering the 1933 Miss Cambridge contest and living with her brother, Stanley, in Cambridge during the time of the competition.
"It was really a popularity contest, totally a community thing in Cambridge. I worked as a clerk at my brother's grocery store (Wikum's Royal Blue grocery on Main Street)," Countryman said. "He and his wife Esther ran the grocery, and people would vote for a contestant to win Miss Cambridge as they made their purchases at the store. I was real happy to have been named runner-up and really enjoyed everyone in the community. Grocery stores are so much more different than those of today; and service was much more personable back then."
Countryman, a 1931 Stoughton High School graduate who will turn 100 on Dec. 2, noted that many of the store customers were visitors from nearby Lake Ripley. The community was best known as the "Umbrella Town" for the colorful parasols lined along the streets of Cambridge and for the Harvest Festival held each summer.
"Lake Ripley was a very popular place to be during the summertime for locals and visitors as far away as Rockford. It was the place for fishing, swimming, and boating," said Countryman, who still drove her car locally in Belvidere at age 95. Her grandson has the prize she won in the 1933 Miss Cambridge competition, a cherry hinged top table awarded by an area merchant. As the first runner-up in the Miss Cambridge contest, she was bestowed the honors as serving as the official city hostess as Anna Lee (Miss Cambridge) competed in the state pageant judging.
All throughout the state, newspapers in small and large communities alike received updates and notices about the extravagant plans for the 1933 state pageant in Cambridge in an effort to drum-up publicity and excitement as many of the towns and cities were selecting entrants of their own to send to Cambridge for the state pageant.
From as far north as Marinette and Oconto, to the far western reaches of Dodgeville and Platteville, and large shoreline cities of Milwaukee and Racine to the east, municipalities began to send their hometown pride to Cambridge.
The method in which the 50 contestants received their community titles veried, between actually winning a staged competition, by the local newspaper or chamber of commerce appointing a nominated candidate, or the citizens of the community themselves selected a city winner from a ballot of names of nominated candidates, thus the highest vote winner was given a title, banner and a trip to Cambridge.
As told in the Aug. 19, 1933 issue of the Wisconsin State Journal following the announcement of the pageant winner, the paper's longtime news reporter Iver Magnes Kalnes wrote, "The crowd witnessing the selection of Miss Wisconsin Friday night was the largest ever seen at any Harvest Festival here. Automobiles were parked over all the hills and vales surrounding the park, and every inch of space in the park proper was filled with people."
Newspaper announcing winner
Earning the 1933 Miss Wisconsin crown after a very competitive contest was brunette beauty Miss Portage, Marie Marguerite Huebner, who was attired in royal purple. The petite former high school yearbook editor went on to compete in the Miss America pageant, Sept. 9, 1933, 15 days shy of her 20th birthday.
Judges in Atlantic City, N.J. selected her among the pageant's 16 semi-finalists, the best showing for a Wisconsin contestant since Clara Wilma Koehler of Milwaukee in 1924. (Winning the 1933 Miss America crown was Miss Connecticut, Marion Bergeron, a 16-year-old from West Haven, Conn., who died in Oct. 2002. She was often a returning Miss America winner at the annual national pageant until the late 1990s).
Prior to competing in Cambridge, Huebner was chosen as first runner-up in the state Elk's Queen pageant in Milwaukee. The contest, held July 8, 1933 prior to the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks national convention, was won Eau Claire's Elks Queen, Marjorie Crowley, 23, a college graduate and trained nurse.
After competing in the Miss America contest (held for the first time in the then-newly built Atlantic City Convention Hall), and meeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Huebner gladly returned to Wisconsin under much statewide press attention and citizen appreciation.
Standing at 5 feet 4 inches, Huebner remains today as one of the shortest women to have held the Miss Wisconsin title. But her short stature didn't hold Huebner back from accepting modeling assignments especially from her employer, Carroll and Klug's Apparel Shop in Portage, where she worked as a clerk and seamstress.
Huebner, who at the time of her death at age 93 on Feb. 15, 2007 of a brief illness in Des Moines, Wash., was the oldest and earliest living Miss Wisconsin titleholder. She and her husband, Elmer William Raimer, who died in 2001, moved to Washington in the early 1970s to be near their four children.
The state pageant contestants arrived in Cambridge from near and far and by an assortment of transportation. Some of the Milwaukee area entrants arrived by train while Miss Lancaster, Leona Dorothy Vesperman, 19, a country farm girl, came by car with her mother, Mattie Bertha Vesperman. (Leona, who passed away in September 2004, was featured in the 2007 Lake Ripley Edition. A Cambridge postcard she sent to her future husband showed Hotel at Shore Place, Lake Ripley, which was her host lodge during the Miss Wisconsin pageant).
1933 state contestants
Meanwhile, big city beauty entrant Miss Madison, Gladys Seldal, 18, was featured in a Wisconsin State Journal newspaper advertisement and article which told of Seldal selecting a DeSoto car sponsored by Quality Motors, Inc. of Madison for a ride to Cambridge.
"Two winners go together" headlined the ad, "It is only natural that Madison's beauty winner should select a DeSoto, the car that has won the approval of car buyers all over."
While some contestants like Miss Madison got wide recognition as a state contestant featured in newspaper advertisements, other contestants barely were making news.
And some apparently never told their children years later that they were local pageant titleholders and contestant in the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant.
The family of Miss Platteville, Bernadette Dolores Marr had no clue that ther mother was Miss Platteville, said son John (Jack) McCormick of Tijeras, New Mexico. For Jean Binkert Schroedl and her sister Bonnie Binkert of Fort Atkinson, each knew all their lives that their mother Mabel Viola Staude was Miss Johnson Creek 1933, and also Mabel was a member of the Stuade Orchestra with her three brothers.
Once in the Cambridge, the pageant delegates arrived at Lake Ripley for boat rides, shoreline sunning, meeting the public, and posing for press photographers who spent hours taking pictures of the contestants from sitting in trees to walking the stage during
the official parade and competition.
A panel of seven judges hailing from Madison and Milwaukee, selected five women to be named runners-up to Miss Huebner, the newly crowned Miss Wisconsin. The first through fifth runners-up were, respectively, Miss Waupun, Ethel Krueger; Miss Beaver Dam, Jeanne Ruth Neugerbauer; Miss Burlington, Evelyn McGarey; Miss Oconto, Marion Burbey; and Miss Green Bay, Lorraine Hansen. Honorable mention went to Miss Marinette, Dorothy Louise Wescher; Miss Wauwatosa, Myra Nelson; and Miss Kenosha, Dolores Dorothy Moriarity.
Among the 50 entrants who visited Lake Ripley and participated in the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant was an outgoing Rebecca Josephine Lillian Stokstad who competed as Miss Stoughton, a title she won weeks earlier while at the Stoughton fairgrounds.
Stokstad, who will turn 97 on Dec. 23, recalled last year of being in the state pageant with Huebner. However, what she remembered most was a comment from Huebner's father, Oswald Huebner, a Portage dry cleaning store owner.
"He (Mr. Huebner) came up to me after the pageant and said that had I been three years older I would have won the contest hands down," laughed Lunde, who retired from working at the Stoughton Hospital's gift shop at age 90. She married her high school classmate Olaf J. Lunde in 1974, and he died in April 2012.
Lunde, 96, is now believed to be one of the last few surviving contestants of the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant. Less than a month before Huebner's death, Miss Middleton 1933, Susan Jane Ziegler Ripp of Black Earth died. The Ashton native, who represented Middleton in the state contest, died Jan. 19, 2007 after a brief illness at 93.
Other recent deaths were that of Miss Two Rivers, Carolyn C. Keune Kronzer in April 2007; Miss Hartford, Frances Geraldine Van Hara Beatz in March 2008; Miss Waupun, Erna Marie Kannenberg Last-Pargand in December 2009; and Miss Marinette, Dorothy Louise Wescher in August 2011.
The Cambridge representative at the state pageant, Anna Lee, didn't place in the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant, but as the hometown girl, she had the honor of crowning Marie Marguerite Huebner as Miss Wisconsin of 1933.
However, the biggest crowning achievement was the community of Cambridge for hosting one of the most memorable Miss Wisconsin competitions in the long fabled history of the pageant. The beauty competition brought much acclaim, media recognition, and statewide interest.
While the state pageant never again returned to Cambridge, and even now after 75 years since that two-day eventful program was staged here, it remains as one of the biggest events to ever come to Cambridge and be staged at Lake Ripley.
"I can't believe it's now been nearly 80 years" Isabel Countryman, said recently. She recalls having purchased a beautiful black two piece jacket and dress ensemble for the local Miss Cambridge pageant coronation event held at the Chamber of Commerce Hall which was attended by more than 400 people.
The late Cambridge historian and five-term village president, Eileen Scott, who died at age 88 on Aug. 21, 2009, recalled during her last interview of having attended the state pageant at age 12 and seeing the contestants in person.
The former teacher remembered how proud the community was of having such a major event with statewide recognition take place in conjunction with the annual Harvest Fest, which was always a anticipated event.
"We were excited to have the Miss Wisconsin pageant and popular light shows be at Lake Ripley for this festive occasion", Scott said. "It was a great day for the Cambridge community which will hopefully be long remembered in history of this town."
Scott will get her wish, as this weekend Cambridge will recall the first and only time that the state pageant was held here on Aug. 18, 1933 when one young woman's dream came true as 49 other contestants and hundreds of visitors returned home with happy memories of Cambridge, the host city of the 1933 Miss Wisconsin pageant.
Contestants for the title of Miss Wisconsin 1933
• Miss Albany, Elsie Charlene Krostue (July 13, 1916-Jan. 2, 2003)
• Miss Appleton, Elaine Williams
• Miss Beaver Dam, Jeanne Ruth Neugebauer (May 6, 1917-Aug. 22, 1993)
• Miss Beloit, Norma Wilson
• Miss Brodhead, Esther Mary Earleywine (Sept. 5, 1919-March 5, 2004)
• Miss Brooklyn, Alice Bernice Brown March 26, 1917-Oct. 8, 2002)
• Miss Burlington, Evelyn McGary
• Miss Cambridge, Anna Onstad Lee (Nov. 9, 1915)
• Miss Cudahy, Helen Walzak
• Miss Deerfield, Louise Nelson
• Miss Dodgeville, Bernice Clara Palzskill (March 14, 1915-Aug. 10, 1999)
• Miss East Troy, Cecelia Germaine Neumann (March 16, 1916-Oct. 16, 2005)
• Miss Edgerton, Elvera Gertrude Woerth (May 5, 1917-Sept. 6, 1973)
• Miss Elkhorn, Nadine Brown
• Miss Evansville, Mary Evalyn Hubbard (April 17, 1917-May 2, 1994)
• Miss Fennimore, Hazel Elaine Webster (May 8, 1915)
• Miss Fond du Lac, Marcella (Sally Ann) Petri (Aug. 14, 1914-July 17, 1988)
• Miss Fort Atkinson, Evelyn Marie Stockfish (Aug. 17, 1910-Sept. 19, 2000)
• Miss Green Bay, Lorraine Hansen
• Miss Hartford, Francis Geraldine Van Hara (April 29, 1913-March 31, 2008)
• Miss Horicon, Mary Elizabeth Eberling (Sept. 14, 1916)
• Miss Janesville, Pearl Eichacher (Aug. 15, 1914)
• Miss Jefferson, Virginia June Ree (June 12, 1915-Nov. 16, 1999)
• Miss Johnson Creek, Mabel Viola Staude (May 4, 1914-Aug. 11,1998)
• Miss Kenosha, Dolores Dorothy Moriarity
• Miss Lancaster, Leona Dorothy Vesperman (Jan. 16, 1914-Sept. 28, 2004)
• Miss Madison, Gladys Seldal (1915)
1933 Miss Madison
• Miss Marinette, Dorothy Louise Wescher June 7, 1915-Aug. 30, 2011)
• Miss Marshall, Beatrice Rose Schroeder (June 8, 1915)
• Miss Middleton, Susan Jane Ziegler (Dec. 15, 1913-Jan. 18, 2007)
• Miss Milton, Alma Gulbrandson
• Miss Milton Junction, Bernice Kutz
• Miss Milwaukee, Camilla Knudson
• Miss Neenah, Doris Mary Renner (April 12, 1915)
• Miss Oconto, Marion Burbey
• Miss Orfordville, Bessie Lievella DeVoe (March 12, 1916)
• Miss Oshkosh, Alice Elizabeth Senk (Feb. 28, 1912-Jan. 21, 2006)
• Miss Platteville, Bernadette Dolores Marr (Oct. 18, 1917-Feb. 3, 1992)
• Miss Portage, Marie Mar-guerite Huebner (Sept. 24, 1913-Feb. 15, 2007)
• Miss Racine, Ann De Louge
• Miss Stoughton, Rebecca Josephine Lillian Stokstad (Dec. 23, 1916)
• Miss Two Rivers, Carolyn C. Keune (April 4, 1916-April 23, 2007)
• Miss Walworth, Rachel Porter (August 25, 1905-Jan. 24, 1987)
• Miss Waterford, Olive Jacobson
• Miss Waterloo, Geraldine Josephine Bossa (March 19, 1913-March 30, 1990)
• Miss Watertown, Evelyn Loretta Woelffer (Sept. 17, 1917-Feb. 21, 2000)
• Miss Waupun, Ethel Krueger (March 27, 1913-Sept. 22, 1997)
• Miss Wauwatosa, Myra Nelson
• Miss West Bend, Erna Marie Kannenberg (Nov. 26, 1914-Dec. 29, 2009)
• Miss Whitewater, Bernice Dorthea (Staude) Keeley (June28, 1917-Aug. 31, 2009)
(Confirmed dates of birth and death that have been verfied)