Miss Michigan 1933: Barbara Strand - semi-finalist
Barbara won the Miss Michigan crown by a unanimous vote, and was the first Miss Michigan to participate in the Miss America contest. Accompanied to Atlantic City by her whole family for their first sight of the ocean, the Pageant did not live up to family expectations, and afterwards Barbara was not particularly proud of her participation. The night before the final judging, photographers brought the crown and robe to her room for pictures, which undoubtedly added to her feelings that the Pageant was unfair with the judging involving bribery and Mafia influence.
|1930 Strand family census form|
348 Garrison Avenue
Martin Strand 43 (MI) Builder, lumber dealer
Leona 41 (MI), Martin Jr 17 (MI), Leona B. 13 (MI), Marjorie 10 (MI) (Martin Jr. was surprised she was listed on the census as Leona B since she always went by Barbara)
Barbara Strand was born June 25, 1916, the older daughter and second child of Leona and Martin Strand.
Pictures from the 1933 Miss Michigan contest:
(click on any picture for a larger view)
|a bevy of beauties!|
|love the car!|
|judging in formal gowns|
|candid shot of bathing suit judging|
|Barbara from the panorama shot - age 17|
|WI WV OH DE MI VA NJ (backside)|
Although there was a Miss Michigan in 1929, there was no Miss America Pageant that year. Barbara was the first Miss Michigan to participate in the national pageant.
No specific mention is made of Barbara in the Atlantic City newspapers.
Her daughter said Barbara was independent and strong. She was not particularly proud of having been a contestant, and did feel the "judges were in cahoots" and were easily swayed. They felt there was bribery and Mafia influence involved in the pageant. Her mom had thought the pageant was getting her ready to be coronated, and even took pictures of her as if she were winning, in the crown and robe, and then they came back and said "sorry - no" and she had to take them off. This story was mirrored by Miss Wisconsin, and its veracity was confirmed with a photo of Miss Wisconsin with crown and scepter in Miss Ohio's scrapbook.
I (DLH) this was the work of a photographer and not Pageant officials, and I think this for two reasons -- the crown in Miss Wisconsin's photo does not match the 1933 crown, and the Atlantic City newspapers specify the elimination that night was just down to 18, and there is no indication that 18 women had such pictures taken. Thus an independent photographer could well have exaggerated the likelihood of wining to ensure he got his photograph.
Her brother Martin confirmed it was the first view of the ocean; he had accompanied the family to Atlantic City with his sister.
After the pageant, Barbara returned to Michigan and attended the University of Michigan, where she dated future-president Gerald Ford! In 1940 Barbara was living back home and working as a social worker for the county welfare department.
Barbara married Charles Soderquist, and lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her three children.
After several years in a nursing home, suffering with Alzheimers, Barbara passed away June 21, 2005, just four days short of her 89th birthday.
Social Security Death Index: BARBARA SODERQUIST, date of birth: 25 Jun 1916, date of death: 21 Jun 2005 (V), last residence: 49546 (Grand Rapids, Kent, MI), place of last benefit: (none specified), social security number: 378-24-1653, place issued: Michigan
SODERQUIST, C J 05 Jan 1917 20 Oct 1998 (V) 81 49546 (Grand Rapids, Kent, MI) (none specified) Michigan 367-07-5198 [Charles]
-- Barbara's brother Martin was the first relative I spoke to. I was delighted to chat with him, but sorry that I was unable to talk to Barbara herself due to her advanced Alzheimers. Martin referred me to Barbara's daughter Susie. Both Martin and Susie were very interested in the pageant. Martin accompanied his parents and sister to the pageant. He did not remember too many things, but did remember it was his first view of the ocean. Her daughter had several vignettes to add, incorporated above.
(Note: in the early days it was common to have all the semi-finalists put on the crown and robe to take pictures the night before the coronation, as there would not be time for formal photos the night of the coronation -- this was how Miss Wisconsin described it.)