Standard-size chrome postcards can often make me smile and maybe even laugh out loud, because with due diligence and enough years of collecting it’s possible to assemble some pretty silly collections. For example, here’s my small collection of beauty queens that you probably never heard of. A quick examination of these 16 cards indicates that there are primarily four broad (no pun intended) categories that beauty queens can represent. I’ll call them Western, Produce, Geographic, and Business.
My basic requirement for Western is simple. They must be wearing cowboy hats and preferably cowboy boots. The pulchritudinous pair on one card are the 1956 and 1957 winners in the Cover Girl contest held during the Rio Grande Valley Live Stock Show. The young woman with the rather large slab of beef is Miss Stock Grower 1969, representing the Nebraska Stock Growers Association. And last in this category we have Miss Rodeo America (circa 1970), inexplicably standing in snow.
The second and by far the most likely category for chrome queens is Produce, encompassing, by my definition, anything grown that isn’t capable of thought. Leading off we have the National Vegetable Queen posed and poised atop an array of Cumberland County, N.J., produce. Following her is the Apple Festival Queen, a saucy lass from Jackson County, Ohio, “noted for its fine apples and pretty girls.” Sitting on a 222-pound member of the gourd family in the foreground of a pumpkin pyramid is the 1973 Ohio Pumpkin Festival Queen. The glamorous gal garbed in a grape-hued outfit and leaning on a large grape press is the 1961 National Wine Queen. She’s doing her part to promote wine as the holiday beverage of choice.
And wrapping up this category are the Southeast Tobacco Festival Queens, improbably described as “two Georgia peaches” posing in tobacco leaf bathing suits. The suits aren’t very practical for playing in the surf – but for getting attention on the beach? Mmm-hmm!
The third category, Geographic, includes any beauty queen who represents a specific location. Miss America would of course qualify, but not if you’re talking goofy chromes, as I am. The bevy of beauties on the spiral staircase all sport Miss Wind Creek Park sashes perhaps jointly sharing this Alexander City, Ala., accolade. The postcard of a toothsome Miss Kauai, “one of Hawaii’s Golden People,” has her juxtaposed with a toothy tiki perilously close to sampling the native fruit.
The last category, Business, represents capitalism at its cutest. How these beauty queens were chosen is anyone’s guess. Miss Sugardale of 1958 says she works “in the office at Sugardale [a meat processor]. Stop in and say Hello.” The babe on the boat is Miss Royal Viking. “Feast your eyes on this lovely beauty. She’s more than your fondest dreams, and really built. Equipped with luxurious trim, she’s as glamorous as any star – we mean the boat, of course.” The beauty on the bird is Miss Firebird, appearing at the nation’s major stock car raceways where Pure Firebird Racing Gasoline powers the winners.
The other two postcards in this category also are in the field of auto racing and represent the same gear shifting company. The horizontal card with the star inset showcases Miss Hurst Performance, “a very talented girl with a pleasing personality.” Hurst Performance Products apparently shifted gears when it came to beauty queen titles because the later horizontal card features Miss Hurst Golden Shifter riding with the giant Hurst Shifter atop a gold Pontiac convertible.
Topping off this collection of queenly misses is a postcard that doesn’t fit into any of my four categories. It’s bound to bring a smile to any aficionado of silly chrome collections: Miss Post Card of 1948. “Duly proclaimed by popular Vote thru a process of elimination as the First MISS POST CARD, in a series of Annual Contests sponsored by the POST CARD COLLECTORS MAGAZINE & GAZETTE, and the POST CARD COLLECTORS CLUB OF AMERICA.” Whether she was chosen for her beauty or her deltiological devotion, or perhaps both, remains a mystery.