Romantic Confessions - May 1934

Romantic Movie Stories - October 1936

Apparently, this article was first published in the newspapers in installments, apparently in the fall of 1933, prior to the May 1934 magazine edition of "Romantic Confessions" (magazine ad, articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Then it was republished in October 1936 in "Romantic Movie Stories."

What follows is the 1936 "Romantic Movie Stories" edition, which is verbatim to the 1934 "Romantic Confessions" version.

Beauty and the Beasts

The Amazing Adventures of Miss Illinois In a Recent Beauty Pageant

by Lillian Kroener

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories magazine, p.12 - click on picture for a larger view
October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, cover
Gently, Billy slid his arm from around me. "Gee, Honey," he said, "you've got it all over every one of those janes. Just look at the winner! She's got calves that belong in a barnyard, and those hips -- why they'd make you think Mussolini was one of the judges. And what a racket that baby's going to have!

"Movie contracts, beautiful clothes, a job on the state -- she's a made woman!"

The scene was a motion picture theatre in my home town -- St. Louis; the time, a night in August, 1932.

Billy and I had just been seeing a news reel, in which the winners of a Western beauty contest revealed their charms. Billy was right. The girls were an ordinary bunch, and it didn't seem fair that the drug store blonde with the big plated cup in her hand should romp off with all the future I'd ever dreamed of having. For myself, all I could visualize for years and years, was Wednesday and Saturday nights at the movies, with a strawberry soda to top off a big evening.

Thank Heaven, that viewpoint of mine is all changed now. I've roamed and I've wandered and I've learned a thing or two, or three, that have forever quashed my ideas of fame as a professional beauty. I'd like to forget it all -- but I can't.

So I'm writing the story of my experiences, not because I am disgruntled (though I am disappointed), but simply as a warning to other girls who may -- and probably will -- fall into the same trap which caused me so many heartaches.

All mothers (bless them for it) think their little Mildreds and Dorothys the most beautiful darlings in the world. My dear mother and dad were no exceptions, but their neighbors and friends didn't merely "uh-huh" when the question of my pulchritude arose. There were enthusiastic. So much so, that by the time I was fifteen, and in Normandy high school, I spent more time posing for millinery and clothing ads than I did on my algebra and Latin.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.13
And when Billy spoke to me that night, I didn't dream that only a year later, I'd be applauded and dated, envied and fêted, as one of the contestants in the most highly publicized beauty pageants in the world -- the National Pageant in Atlantic City.

Against my parents' better judgment, I went, but I certainly didn't do St. Louis Proud!

For, across my bosom, wherever I went, was draped a shiny satin banner, "Miss Illinois"!

I never had lived in the state of Illinois. Yet I represented that great commonwealth in the pageant. I was a fraud - a phoney! But, it wasn't my fault!

Jimmy Carrier, self-styled promotion director of the pageant, had enough alleged credentials to deaden the suspicions of anyone who didn't think it quite fair of him to appoint any girl he was fit to be any state's representative in the contest.

Let me explain what I mean. The pageant blared forth publicity to the effect that every state entrant was chosen by a state-wide contest, by a committee of at least seven judges.

Understand, each girl was supposed to be a bonafide resident of the state whose banner she wore.

Yet Mr. Carrier, traveling from town to town in the Mid-West to impress the natives with these rules, had a sheaf of documents, some of which were from an alleged pageant official contradicting the rules and mocking the by-laws he exploited!

I first met him after a local St. Louis contest in which Marie Marks was chosen "Miss Missouri", and I ran third. Her selection was strictly according to Hoyle.I happened to enter the beauty battle one day when two gentlemen, contest franchise-holders in town, visited my home and asked me to represent an automobile company in the contest.

Mother and Dad were opposed to the idea at first, but I finally persuaded them that it was just a lark and would probably be very good fun.

Carrier was one of the judges in the contest. And after the "shooting" was all over, he came to me and he had "a little proposition to discuss". Then he asked me how I'd like to tour with the beauties going to the National Pageant in Atlantic City.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.14
"It isn't just the trip," he urged me. "It isn't only the marvelous time you'll have. It'll mean your whole future!

"When we get back East I'll get you a screen test and a job in the movies. You'll be given gorgeous gowns for the finals at the shore; beautiful dresses, all the stocking you can use for years, cosmetics and perfumes!

You'll stay at the best hotels and come in contact with the most influential citizens in every town you visit!"

Ah! Had I only been gifted with second sight -- or even possessed a first-rate Ouija board, so I could have foreseen the disillusionment and the heartbreak I endured during the days before I returned to good old St. Louis!

Anyhow, I told Carrier I didn't think it possible for me to go on the tour and accept those marvelous gifts because I wasn't "Miss Missouri", and only winners were to make the trip.

He "ha-ha'd" me out of my convictions. He showed me letters from an alleged pageant promotion director authorizing him to appoint any girls he thought suitable to wear the banners of those states not holding local beauty contests for the purpose of selecting a representative to the National Pageant.

I must have been dumb. These letters completely lulled my suspicions. Yet, now that it is all over, even I realize that those credentials, worthless as they subsequently turned out to be, should not have convinced me that Carrier's appointing a "Miss Texas" at the very time when the good people of the Lone Star state were turning out by the thousands to vote for their prettiest girl, was on the "up and up". I'll have more to say about that later.

Anyhow, Carrier suggested to me that I become either "Miss Illinois" or "Miss Indiana".

I discussed the idea with Daddy that night, and he said he didn't think it legal or ethical for me to do so. But after I turned Carrier down the next day, he again came to my home, and shuffled papers around so fast and talked so hard, that even Dad was persuaded to let me accept the offer.

Gosh! How I wish I hadn't!

Throughout the week, the alleged promotion men decided, I would not appear with the other beauties around St. Louis, for fear of recognition by my home town folk. But at the end of the week, a parade was scheduled. The girls were to march to City Hall and meet the mayor and other civic authorities.

Carrier confessed to me that he was stuck!

He had promised to have a "Miss Oregon" in the parade, and none was available.

For the first time, he suggested, I would be "Miss Oregon". In the meantime, he'd have to dig up another "authentic Miss Oregon."

Maybe I was hypnotized -- I don't know. Anyhow, I'd heard for years about "Steve Brodie", so I was willing to try anything once. I put on my bathing suit and neatly pinned the white satin banner, "Miss Oregon", across it.

The bands screamed and the people cheered as we girls hoofed it to City Hall. And was I thrilled?

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.15
The Mayor and the other big officials stood on the steps. But who were standing beside them but the very judges who, only a week before, had chosen me third in the Missouri contest? Actually, I thought I was going to faint. But, I didn't!

I went through with it, ridiculous as it was. There was no ducking. I was introduced to His Honor as "Miss Oregon", and welcomed to St. Louis with a very pretty speech. Then I was led over and personally introduced to each of the judges.

They took one good look at me, and then some of them burst into screams of laughter! They didn't "give me away", however.

That night, the genuine "Miss Oregon" appeared to wear my banner at the Country Club. No wonder she arrived so quickly, because she, like I, was a St. Louis girl, although she hadn't appeared in any of the local contests, and so, wasn't recognized.

The following day, our troupe left in a string of Ford cars that were out conveyances for the rest of the seven weeks' trip to Atlantic City.

Our first stop was at Belleville, Illinois. Here it was that Billie Elwood, our "Miss Texas," had the good luck to run into some friends from San Antonio.

"Billie," they asked her, "how can you be 'Miss Texas', when, just last week, the franchise holders were having a legitimate contest for the selection of 'Miss Texas'?"

Billie, a perfectly darling girl, was furious when she heard that Carrier's appointment of her was irregular. She looked up Jim, and told him plenty. He tried to laugh it off.

"Ah, to hell with that," he told her. "Let those mugs in San Antonio worry about that. I'm going to make a movie star out of you, Sweetheart!"

One thing I'll say. Billie had good sense. Without a word, she hopped out of the room, scrambled her clothes into her bag, and drove off with her townsfolk.

All through Illinois, I was the belle of the troupe. We didn't play Elgin, my "home town", at all, but wherever else we went, the mayors fell all over themselves in giving me scrolls of welcome and the keys to their cities. Throughout that one week, my room looked like a florist's shop. No doubt about it, the "home state girl" was making good in a big way.

About a week later, however, my troubles began. We played at a roadhouse and a theatre in Marion, Illinois. As I was dressing for the street, backstage, Carrier came into the room and asked me to accompany him to his hotel suite to discuss my wardrobe for the tour. That sounded good to me, because, so far, I hadn't received so much as a pin of all the keen clothes he'd promised me.

But when I got to his room, he didn't talk about mink coats, He said to me: "Listen, 'Miss America" -- Honey, if you'll be nice to me, when we get East, I'll get you the finest stage and screen contracts in the country!"

I asked him, "What do you mean by 'nice'? I've always been nice to you. I've never been rude to you, or anything, have I?"

"Aw, come on Lillian," he urged, "don't be such a prude." He made a clumsy effort to put his arm around me. "I'm not such a bad fellow, am I?"

I gave his fat old face a push, and said "You go to hell!" Then I tried to make my escape.

He was furious. His face grew livid and I thought he was going to burst, he was so angry. He threatened: "You'll go home the first thing in the morning!"

"Fine," I yelled at him, and slammed the door behind me. And the next morning, I was all prepared to go back to St. Louis. My bag was packed and I wore my traveling clothes. When I saw Carrier, I asked him what train I was to take. He laughed.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.48
"Train? What train? Why you're not going home. We need you -- 'Miss America'."

Then he told me that he had signed contracts all along the route, promising to bring twelve girls. With me, he had only seven. He was glad to keep me on either "hot" or "cold" terms, because, somewhere, there were five girls who were too smart to join Carrier and his troupe.

Our trip for the next few days was harrowing. We traveled three hundred and fifty miles a day, and played three shows. Sometimes we'd put on a show for a bunch of beauty-starved farmers and miners as late as one o'clock in the morning.

Then, when we were en route to Jacksonville, Illinois, Carrier started after me again. He wanted me to ride in his car, he said, and "be a little more affectionate". I said I didn't care to travel alone with him, and, finally, Marie Marks, "Miss Missouri", saw my plight and slid into the car with me. Three's a crowd!

Carrier was in a fine temper. Toward the end of the ride, when I'd returned his arm to him half a dozen times, he turned to Marie and remarked that he thought it would be swell if "Miss Illinois" went home the next day.

He couldn't make me mad. But unfortunately, he again refused to make good his threat.

The next day, we girls held a meeting. To not one of us had Carrier kept his pre-tour promises of clothes and contracts. We were being worked like galley slaves, for not even a nickel a week. You see, we'd been told that if we accepted salaries, we would be professionals, and therefore not eligible for the "strictly on the level" contest in Atlantic City.

Wasn't that a sad thought, and didn't the alleged officials feel terribly when they "couldn't" give their pretty little trained seals one penny of the thousands going into the box offices? Goodness, how sorry they must have been!

Eventually, things grew so bad that we girls decided to present our manager with an ultimatum. We were told that he wasn't registered at the hotel. Hours later, we located him hiding under the name of Jackson. And, when we told him what we wanted, he sneered at us, and reminded us that we'd better do what he told us, because there wasn't a girl among us who had railroad fare home.

We realized, at last, just what kind of a person we had to contend with, and it seemed as though there were but one road open. We composed a telegram to the man we had been told was national director of the Pageant describing Carrier's treatment. We were sure that when he heard of our predicament, and of Carrier's annoying us, he would immediately send aid.

Not a soul of us went to bed that night. We all sat up, waiting for morning and a reply from our telegram.

Did we get it? We might as well have thrown the telegram into the trash basket. No response. The following day, I sent another personal appeal to him. As strongly as possible, I tried to impress him with the daily indignities to which I was being subjected by the man who claimed to be his agent, Carrier. But, again, no reply. I learned later that he never received the messages.

A Mr. X, who replaced Carrier during the late stages of the trip told me that the wire had been intercepted.

Our next three stops -- this was before Carrier was fired -- were among the most memorable of the trip. We appeared at roof gardens of different hotels and found ourselves virtually auction block chattels when the management announced that a dance with us was to be the reward for the winners of prize drawings.

We weren't consulted about the matter at all. Even dance hall girls have a right to turn a partner down. But we were treated like the commonest kind of women, and forced to dance with whomever we drew. And boy, oh boy, what a collection of hoodlums had all the luck those nights!

Rough and ready, gutter products, they insulted us with crude proposals and forced us to listen to revolting and coarse remarks.

This was the treatment of girls supposedly the cream of the nation's beauty, among whom was the possible "Miss America", to be chosen at the National Beauty Pageant!

For three days we were subjected to this sort of thing. Then, at last, we sighed with relief. We were booked for Peoria, and the first night there we were actually permitted to go to our hotel and right to bed after the night performance at the local theater. Thank goodness, we figured, Carrier at last had decided to treat us like decent human beings.

Then came disillusionment, and in a big way. Carrier left us in charge of a former movie usher named Kirby, while he went on ahead to the next town to arrange our booking.

Kirby came to our dressing room after a roadhouse performance, and told us some "very fine gentlemen" requested the honor of our presence at a party. He said there'd be "dancing -- and everything".

Now, daily driving of several hundred miles in a flivver, over any prolonged period of time, is wearing enough on anyone. But throw in a couple or three performances a day, small town, second-rate-hotel good, and lumpy beds, and you can imagine just how exhausted we were.

We told Kirby that we appreciated the invitation, but that we were tired and wanted to go beddy-bye.

He implored us, as a favor to him, to go. He said that it would help the act draw big money, and, because we thought this meant collection of our long promised clothes, we went.

Well, I have heard of rowdy, drunken brawls. I have read about them and I have seen pictures in the movies, but never in my life have I imagined anything so completely depraved as the spree we attended. I saw enough speak-easies (if those gangster dives can be dignified by event hat name) during that night and the next, to last me for the rest of my life.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.49
Sheltered as I had been at home, and sent to a private school for protection from the wrong type of companions, I found myself forced to associate with two notorious Illinois gangsters and their criminal friends.

And believe me, they weren't the Georgie Raft or the Clark Gable type of gangsters made more or less acceptable by the movies. They were plain out-and-out "tough mugs", to use their own vernacular.

One of my closest friends on the trip was leaning over the bar of probably the fifth speakeasy we visited that night, when, all of a sudden, one of the "nice gentlemen" sneaked up behind her, and, before she could turn around, bit her on the buttocks. The bite will leave a mark for life.

She screamed with pain, and the rest of us rushed to her assistance. She was really suffering. But the gangsters were not at all impressed. They howled at the grand joke, and the culprit, feeling himself a hero, leaned over to my friend and soothed her thus: "Gee, that tasted good, Honey! Now let me bite the other side!"

That was the longest night I ever experienced. It seemed to me it never would come to an end. And I don't believe I ever was so happy as when I crawled into my dingy hotel bed just about dawn.

Just about that time, we began to wonder what had become of Carrier. We knew he had gone ahead, arranging bookings, but we had begun to hope he would come back for even he was not so hard on us as Kirby.

On our second appearance in the tough roadhouse, Kirby came back to our dressing rooms after the show and very coolly informed us that we'd made a hit with the gangsters we had been "entertained" by the night before. They were going to give us a break, he said. The dears were going to give us a big party. Wasn't that nice?

How we girls yelled and screamed! We told Kirby where to get off, and said we wouldn't go. Then he tried to stall, threatening that if we didn't attend the party, we'd all be sent home on the first morning train.

Gra-and! Swe-ell! That sounded fine. We dared him to! Then when the ex-usher saw the reception his threat received, he broke down and sobbed. Then he got angry again and said he wouldn't buy us food or claim our baggage if we didn't go to the party. He said he was broke, absolutely flat, and that he couldn't get a cent from those allegedly in authority in Atlantic City.

There was no alternative. We girls didn't have a cent. We were too proud to telegraph our parents for money, and anyhow we still had visions of becoming actresses or movie stars.

Anyhow, we went on the binge, and the affair was the same sort of nightmare as the previous evening.

After two weeks of one-day jumps, we finally arrived in Baltimore, and were immediately pushed into a parade. We wanted to clean up a bit and change our clothes, so we asked what hotel we were stopping at. Our new manager told us a lovely apartment had been rented for us instead.

What an apartment! Well, at least the vermin liked it. It was the filthiest hole I've ever seen. There were no pillow slips on the dirty pillows, no towels. The furniture consisted of a dilapidated bed and a chair in each room, plus something that might have been a table -- once upon a time.

Hail "Miss America!"

When we complained, we were angrily told that hotel rates in so large a town were too high to spend on girls like us. What could we do? Make the best of it? We tried. We asked for our luggage, hoping to freshen ourselves a bit.

But our bags were missing. The last hotel we had stayed in, in West Virginia, was holding them for failure to pay our bill.

So we went out and joined the parade. By that time our white satin banners were grimy as dust cloths. We certainly looked like a bunch of youthful hags. And there we were, filthy, unhappy, parading to the strains of stirring music, while the crowds cheered the "most beautiful girls in America"!

If they thought so, they must have been near-sighted.

And perhaps if they'd known how hungry we were, they wouldn't have cheered so loud, not so long.

Finally, at eleven that night, our manager got our bags out of "hock" and delivered them to our rooms.

Eleven o'clock at night for eighteen-year-old girls, as we were, is late enough to retire, especially after so hectic a day as we had been through. But instead of bed we were taken to a burlesque theater, where the typical tough bunch of morons sat, waiting to excite themselves by looking at us.

We had to parade down a runway, built to bring our bodies nearer to the human gorilla audience. The mob was ribald. They hooted and whistled, and yelled embarrassing wisecracks.

The climax came when one of the men, the most unsavory-looking male I've ever seen, tried to reach up to the runway to grab my leg. The house screamed its appreciation as he bellowed: "Gee, Baby. I'd give fifty bucks cash for you." Then he turned to the stage director and yelled: "That's my baby -- wrap her up. Here's the fifty."

I was completely nauseated and unnerved.

Eventually, after almost seven weeks of horror, of traveling without proper good and rest and proper accommodations, of marching in silly parades and dancing at low dives, our bedraggled group arrived in Philadelphia on September 5, 1933. We were complete wrecks.

Our clothes were filthy, our morale gone, and we looked like something out of a soup-kitchen, rather than like the most beautiful girls in America.

Comparing us with other girls who were going to the Pageant, and whom we then met for the first time, no one would have thought we would dare compete in a beauty tournament. Our last hope for the stunning clothes, the screen tests and stage contracts we were to receive as rewards for our harrowing trip, had by this time, fled.

When we walked through the crowd and around the train, the crowds hooted at us, and shouted, "Call those scarecrows beauties?" I don't blame them for their remarks. They were perfectly justified. We looked horrible.

From Philadelphia we went to the luxurious Hotel Ritz-Carlton in Atlantic City. It looked mighty good to us. We spent the whole first day getting cleaned and waved, and took naps which made us feel much more cheerful.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.50
The second night, there was a big dinner party in honor of all the contestants, and we were just too thrilled at the prospect. All of a sudden, however, our joy was dimmed. Mine, especially so.

Outside of my traveling suit and a little morning frock I had earned posing before I left home, I didn't have a frock to my name. There was nothing to do. I crawled into bed, ate my supper there and then sobbed myself to sleep. And, outside of two girls who had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of other luckier contestants who loaned them clothes, the others shared the same fate.

It's a wonder there wasn't an extra big tidal wave in the Atlantic from our tears.

Late in the evening, one of the alleged Pageant directors coming to my room to see what had detained me, appeared horrified when I told him why I couldn't attend the dinner, and promised that surely, the next day, we all would receive our new wardrobes.

I'm still waiting!

Finally, much as I hated to do it, I wired home for money and received enough to buy myself a tricky gown for the American Beauty Ball. Throughout almost the first week, I had to forego all afternoon events except those I could attend in a bathing suit.

During that period, I learned a fact which chiefly prompted the writing of this story, and one which urges me to warn all other girls who read this tale -- beware of beauty pageants!

I happened to be speaking to someone -- he must be nameless and unidentified -- about the charm of Elsa Donath, "Miss Greater New York City", in the Pageant. "What a wonderful honor for her!" I commented. "Imagine, she competed against twelve thousand girls in New York, the center of the country's beauty, and was chosen from that whole crowd to come here! That's what I call getting a break!"

"What do you mean?" I asked. "I should think that would work in her favor. It's not often you find the fairy-tale combination -- good and beautiful."

"Well," answered this amazing fellow. "Betty didn't try to get her!"

"Betty who?" I asked. "What is she -- a theatrical agent or some other big shot?"

He pondered a moment, then -- "Oh, well, I don't suppose you'd hear of her in Illinois at that. I mean the vice queen of New York. She's got the swankiest apartments in New York, and if she takes a girl -- well, they're made. It's easy money. Just like finding it!"

He paused again, probably because of my gasp of disbelief. Then he went on: "Betty was at the New York finals in Madison Square Garden. She picked out a few hot-looking numbers and started negotiating with them to come and live with her. But she didn't even ask Elsa!"

I was horrified. Just imagine! Elsa was considered slighted by this sophisticate, because she wasn't asked to cast aside her morals. The New York girls, walking down the runway in what they hoped was fame and glory, were to consider themselves honored by an invitation from the queen of the underworld.

The Lord only knows how many of those girls were approached, and if any accepted the "honor". I hope not.

Even my own trip, horrible as it was, seemed pleasant in comparison with this new menace. All through the week, every time I had had to appear in a public place, I shuddered to think what retainers of this New York vulture were marking down my name for future reference.

But meantime, the Pageant went on, and I was still hopeful of being able to forget our sufferings in the glory of the title, "Miss America".

Then, somewhere there was a leak. A newspaperman heard that I was not from Elgin, Illinois, but from St. Louis, and, disgusted with the whole affair, I willingly signed an affidavit for him to that effect.

He also learned that a number of the other girls were representing states other than their own.

Then the fun started. The out-of-town newspapers broke the story, telling that not only did we girls live in states other than those we represented, but that we had been appointed, rather than chosen by state-wide contests.

Immediately, we were called upon to bear the brunt of the fraud for Mr. Carrier. It was suggested that we were trying to put something over and everyone ignored the fact that we were dragged into the beauty tournament by false representations.

The judges didn't know what to do. They had accepted their posts in the belief that it was strictly on the level, and this announcement of faking placed them "on the spot", unless the credentials of every girl in the contest were thoroughly investigated.

We were sneered at by the other girls, who, naturally, felt they wanted nothing to do with cheats. Again we held a meeting and decided there was no sense in adding to our humiliation by appearing in the finals. We declared that in view of disqualification, which must certainly be announced, we preferred to withdraw.

Yet we never were disqualified and we appeared in the finals, September 9, with the press informed that the judges had been ordered not to vote for us "appointees" still in the contest.

Marion Bergeron, a plump blonde girl from West Haven, Connecticut, eventually received the gilded crown of ""Miss America". But imagine how shocked the crowds were when it developed that "Miss America", too, was irregular -- being below the sixteen-year age limits set by contest rules. All I can say is they had nothing but rubber rules, easily bent, if not broken. And personally, I hold nothing against Marion Bergeron.

Elsa Donath, "Miss Greater New York City", might have won, I think, but when she heard of all the irregularities she withdrew as a protest for fair play. There were a couple of other high-class girls who also withdrew, after they learned there were several "professionals", chorus girls, slated for the finals.

October 1936 Romantic Movie Stories, p.51
So after "Miss America" was crowned, a very disillusioned little girl named Lillian Kroener packed her bedraggled "finery" and prepared to leave town. All I needed to get away was my railroad fare back to St. Louis, promised me, in addition to all the other fine things I didn't get.

This one thing, I felt, surely wouldn't be denied me.

Then came the crowning insult. Margaret Witteman -- "Miss Idaho" came bursting into my room. "What do you think, Lillian?" she sobbed. "They'll only give me my fare as far as Boise, Idaho. They say as far as they're concerned, I can hoof it from there back to Spokane where they got me."

Even then, I thought surely there had been a misunderstanding. I rushed to the Pageant office, and, not showing my alarm, asked for my ticket home. They handed it to me cheerfully enough -- I will say that! I looked at the long slip of paper. And, the last town mentioned on it was "Elgin, Illinois", my dear old "home town", only 284 miles from St. Louis, where I was born and lived all my eighteen years.

"How," I inquired, "am I expected to get from Elgin to St. Louis? And why don't you send me all the way home, as you promised?"

I was told that in view of the newspaper exposé, and the fact I had signed an affidavit that I was from some other point than from where they represented me, that it was my own funeral. They couldn't afford to make liars out of themselves by giving me a ticket to St. Louis, they declared.

"Baby," one of the "kinder" men said, "if Elgin isn't your home, you'd better adopt it, because that's as far as you're going."

So that was that. I was flat broke. I then went to see the judges and told them of my plight. They were sympathetic, and took up a collection for me, sufficient to get me home to Mother and Dad.

And that's where I'm going to stay -- right here in dear old St. Louis, for years to come. No more beauty pageants for Lillian! And, the next "Billy" that gets me all hot and bothered about my beautiful face and figure, and my "swell" chances of getting in the movies or on the stage -- well, just look out! There'll be a wow of a story, called "Murder in St. Louis"!

With thanks to Edward Marino for providing the complete article.
Return to Miss Idaho page
Return to Miss Illinois page
Return to Miss Iowa page
Return to Whistle Stop Tour page
Return to disqualifications page

There appears to be some "literary license" used here, or perhaps some unclear memories of events three years later:
• Lillian says she was offered the title of Miss Indiana but there was a contest in Indiana, and there was a winner (Mary Frances Lininger); even if she had dropped out in mid-July, it seems like Carrier would have asked the runner up to take her place.
• Lillian clearly had some clothes other than a bathing suit for the seven-week tour prior to the Pageant.
• There were not "a couple of other high-class girls who also withdrew, after they learned there were several "professionals", chorus girls, slated for the finals" besides Miss New York City, Elsa Donath; only Elsa withdrew.
• Not all "appointees" were dropped from the ballot (Miss Kentucky Lucille Rader was still on the final ballot); just the four disqualified women were so dropped.

There are also omissions:
• no mention of the fact that telegrams to verify residency had been sent out to 10 of the 31 contestants, and only three did not have a satisfactory response, so these three were disqualified for "lack of proof of state residency."
• no mention, unfortunately, of the married contestant Miss Arkansas, Vivian Ferguson, and the circumstances surrounding her disqualification.
• no mention that Miss New York City Elsa Donath received the RKO screen test that had been promised to the Miss America winner (and she was subsequently billed as "the woman who turned down the Miss America title"); since she had been one of two contestants sponsored by RKO, there is some conflict of interest here.

However, many of Lillian's colorful stories are supported by other published sources, such as Miss Texas Billie Elwood, the expectation of a Miss Oregon, and even the reference to gangsters -- it is known that Atlantic City and its Pageant were ruled by gangster Nucky Johnson (see judges) who had business associations with the infamous Chicago mobster Al Capone.

Therefore, there well could be some glorification of how harrowing the Whistle Stop Tour was, and how often they performed; more local newspapers would surely lend some light on the details. However, the general feeling of how second-rate or third-rate the Whistle Stop tour is considered to be accurate.

Clearly James Carrier was unable to field proper contestants from the MidWest, and he had had considerable authority -- as the New York Daily Mirror newspaper article states "it was charged further that several entrants had never been in State competitions, but were the arbitrary selections of James Carrier, ousted promotion director of the pageant." Since this article was dated September 9th, Carrier had been ousted one week prior to the start of the Pageant. He was reported to have appointed four state representatives -- Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa and Illinois, but it is thought that he also appointed Arkansas, Oregon and Texas, the last two of whom did not compete in Atlantic City. --DLH, 2011

Note: Steve Brodie (December 25, 1861-January 31, 1901) was an American from New York City who claimed to have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and survived on July 23, 1886. The resulting publicity from the supposed jump, whose veracity was disputed, gave Brodie publicity, a thriving saloon and a career as an actor. Brodie's fame persisted long past his death, with Brodie portrayed in films and with the slang terms "taking a Brodie" and "Brodie" entering the language for "taking a chance" and "suicidal leap." -- Wikipedia, 2011