Miss Texas 1933 - Billie Elwood (did not compete)

August 9, 1933 Denton, Texas newspaper clipping

Billie Elwood is known to have been Miss Texas on the Whistle Stop Tour in St. Louis in July with the other MidWest contestants. The Denton, Texas Record-Chronicle on Wednesday, August 9, 1933 ran the article shown at right:

Beauty Winners Christen Car
Miss Texas is shown here breaking the customary christening bottle on the side of the Stephen F. Austin, one of the four new de luxe lounge cars just constructed for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Lines at a cost of more than $250,000. Miss Texas has as her attendants Miss Kansas, Pauline Sayre of Wichita; Miss Missouri, Marie Marks of St. Louis; and Miss Oklahoma, Joanne Alcorn, Ponca City. Miss Texas is Billie Elwood of San Antonio. All are winners in beauty contests and officiated at the christening at St. Louis while enroute to Atlantic City to represent their states in the national contest. The other new lounges are named for William B. Travis, James B. Bonham and James W. Fannin, who with Austin are revered in Texas history.

It is noteworthy that the three other beauty queens mentioned, Misses Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, all do travel to the national pageant in Atlantic City. Although the date of the article in Denton,TX was August 9, the event reported actually took place in July in St. Louis prior to the Tour's travel to Missouri in late July.

The most information was related by Miss Illinois Lillian Kroener in her 1936 Romantic Movie Stories exposé:

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.
... 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.

It is an interesting coincidence that there was only one Texas woman among the 51 finalists in the Court of Honor beauty pageant for the June opening of the World's Fair in Chicago, and she was named Billy Cochran. The picture of the Miss America contestant Elwood (to the right above) is so poor that it can not be compared to that of Cochran in the Court of Honor. Although the first names and city matches, it is assumed that this is not the same person. Census data was examined to try to find both women in San Antonio in 1930 -- the only possible Elwood found on the 1930 census for Texas is Eunice, born 1915, living in Houston, not considered to be a possibility, and there is no positive match for Billy Cochran found on the census either -- so census data cannot confirm that they are two different women. It seems unlikely that Billy Cochran would have gotten married in June/July, or that a name error would have been made in the newspaper and/or exposé. The Billy Cochran in the Court of Honor is, from a Chicago newspaper account, 21 years old and models clothes in a department store In San Antonio. She has a head of dark brown curls, has dark blue eyes. However, if Elwood and Cochran are the same Billie/Billy, it would explain how promoter James Carrier found Elwood to tap her as Miss Texas, as he is known to have found Misses Arkansas and Kentucky at the Court of Honor, and maybe Miss Idaho too. Perhaps if a better copy of the Denton,TX article were found it would allow picture comparison.

Interestingly, a Lowell, Massachusetts news article on September 12, 1933 by Mark Hellinger mentions that a drunk in the audience hollers for Miss Texas, but he neglects to mention there is no Miss Texas in the contest.

from website listed at left - Camden,NJ street addresses
Finally, there is mention of Alice Mae Ayres of Tyler,TX being chosen Miss Texas in June, prior to Billie Elwood in July. From Miss Grocery World 1933 (website: http://www.dvrbs.com/camden-streets/CamdenNJ-Streets-HolcaineAvenue.htm which is a Camden,NJ website):
1608 Holcaine Avenue
1933 Thelma Roddy
Camden Courier-Post
Jun 26, 1933
Miss Thelma Roddy
Camden girl, who represented the Walt Whitman Grocery Store, was runner up in the beauty contest held at Atlantic City by the National Association of Retail Grocers. Miss Allee May Ayers, of Tyler, Texas, won the title of "Miss Grocery World" and will compete in the Atlantic City Pageant, Sept. 5 to 9. Miss Roddy lives at 1608 Holcain Avenue.

MAO historian Ric Ferentz had thought that perhaps there was confusion between state winners for the Grocery World contest and the Miss America contest, both called "Miss State." The grocers contest in Atlantic City predated the Miss America pageant by a little over two months, by June 26, 1933. However, this Camden,NJ posting mentions that the winner "Miss Grocery World" Miss Texas Miss Allee May Ayers (actually Alice Mae Ayres) of Tyler,TX "will compete in the Atlantic City Pageant, Sept. 5 to 9," as reported in the June 26, 1933 edition of the Camden Courier-Post. Clearly Alice did not compete, at least not in the non-professional division. It is possible that as of June 26 Alice Mae Ayres planned to compete in Atlantic City but she pulled out by the middle/end of July, and promoter James Carrier then tapped Billie Elwood. However, it is also possible that Alice was invited to attend the Miss America Pageant in another capacity (e.g., the professional division). Thank you to Tim Neal of Sunrise,FL who brought this website to my attention in 2010.