This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on Sept. 1, 1995.

By Michael R. Hayslip

While times may have changed since the first beauty contest graced the annual Garland Jaycee Jubilee in 1953, the annual pageant still spotlights feminine charm. The rules are just different.

Inspiration for the event apparently jelled into action by mid-summer of 1953, as the local club leapt toward the front of the national pack from cities in its size class. Earlier that year both the Jaycees and the Jayceettes had won state awards for fundraising with the Labor Day Jubilees. At the 1953 national Jaycee convention in Chicago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had presented the Garland group a second-place national award for the events.

With those records to match or beat, club members redoubled efforts for what they called a “top-notch entertainment program for the whole community.” Frequent front-page Garland News accounts kept readers abreast of unfolding developments, including plans for pony rides, a swimming contest, swimming exhibition, talent show, Fall Merchandise Parade for exhibiting local merchants, and a drawing for a new 1953 Plymouth sedan. To beef up manpower the club launched a summer membership campaign, which reportedly netted 55 new members within the first 10 days.

Long appreciative of prospects with a beauty contest, Garland Jaycee President W. E. Peavy, Jr. leaked news in August for naming a “Miss Garland Jaycee Jubilee of 1953.” Contest chairman Jack G. Smith soon provided details, stating that local commercial and industrial firms were encouraged to sponsor entrants, to be known as “Miss (business name, product or service).

Nancy Tuell, now Dr. Nancy Raines, a counselor at Southgate Elementary in Garland, won the contest that year, and still recalls the bare bones aspects of the first pageant. “Sponsors solicited the contestants, who were interviewed by the News for personal background,” she said, “and evaluated in swimsuit competition on Labor Day by a panel of three judges. Only a first place was selected, and the prize was a trophy. For all practical purposes, that was about it; the show was over.”

Besides Dr. Raines, who represented Intercontinental Manufacturing Co., where she worked then as a secretary, the six entrants and their sponsors for 1953 included Diane Dewit, Miss Rebuilders; Betty Kirgin, Miss Varo; Sylvia McMurray, Miss Downtown Merchants; Patsy Shearer, Miss Duck Creek Merchants and Ginger Tiemann, Miss Garland Shopping Center.  Their ages ranged from 17 to 21 years, their heights from five-foot-two to five-foot-five inches and their weights from 105 to 117 pounds. No entry was recorded for the local meat-packing plant.

Mark Oleson, Jaycee coordinator for the 1995 pageant, hastens to point out that the event has matured considerably over the years from its fleshy roots in the ‘50's. At the end of each school year announcements are now mailed to each incoming junior female in the Garland school system, so that rehearsals for various contests may begin by the first of July. Those rehearsals help to prepare contestants for overall evaluations, consisting of talent, 25 %; interviewing, 25 %, scholarship, 20 %; and physical fitness, 15 %.  The remaining 15 % of the total score rests on “presence and composure,” now involving an evening-gown competition to replace the one with bathing suits, which disappeared some 20 years back.

“Now we’re looking for ‘the girl next door,’ ” said Oleson, apparently thinking of a good neighborhood. When the five judges select her from among the 18 entrants, she will not only receive a trophy, but also a $750 cash scholarship, with smaller awards in descending amounts going to the first through fourth runners up. Additional scholarships are awarded for overall winners in each of the five evaluation categories.

Since 1972 the Garland affair has been affiliated with the Junior Miss pageants, allowing local winners to compete later on a statewide basis, and if successful there, on a national level as well.

Garland Jaycee Jubilee in 1953

Photo caption


Nancy Tuell, Miss Intercontinental Manufacturing Co., was selected Miss Garland Jaycee Jubilee of 1953 in the first of the Jaycee’s annual beauty contests.


Photo courtesy Nancy Raines.