Monday, October 14, 2013

The Homecoming Queen Race of 1950

by Bryan Whitledge

This week is Homecoming week at Central. Alumni will be returning and reminiscing about times past, the CMU football team will face off in a big game against Northern Illinois this Saturday, and there are numerous events sponsored by the Office of Student Activities and Involvement taking place, such as the Homecoming parade and the selection of the “Gold Ambassadors.” Prior to 1997, “Gold Ambassadors” were referred to as Homecoming Queen and King and the Ambassadors were called the Homecoming Court. Before 1982, there was no King, only a Homecoming Queen and her court -- a tradition stretching back to 1946.

Sometimes the competition for Homecoming Court is so memorable that it lives on in infamy for decades. Such is the case for the Homecoming Queen race of 1950. As far as the public was concerned, everything seemed typical as of Tuesday, October 3, 1950. The CM Life from October 4 reported that there were seven candidates in the race for Homecoming Queen – Doris, Katie, Jeanne, Mary, Marilyn, Marie, and Mary Kay (p. 1). The young women were to participate in the Queen’s candidacy program the evening of October 4. Then, a campus-wide vote would take place the following day to name the Queen that would preside over Homecoming weekend - October 13, 14, and 15. Everything looked like it was moving smoothly, but something was afoot.

In the lead up to Homecoming, some of the young men from Ronan Hall1 felt that the campus environment was a little dull and spirit was lacking among Central students. A young freshman named Edward Miller decided to be the spark that would make things a little more interesting. The day before the Queen’s candidacy, rumors began swirling about Mr. Miller’s plan. Some of the Ronanites, as they were called, began a publicity campaign to let people know that the Homecoming Queen race was about to get shaken up. If people hadn’t heard the rumblings of the plan, they only had to wait until the Queen’s candidacy program on the evening of October 4.

Edna - Chippewa Yearbook,
1951, p. 131
As the CM Life reported it the following week, even before MC Bob Johnson could finish making the announcement of a new contender - a “dark horse” as he put it – the crowd started in: “We want Ed-na.” The curtains parted and there, before a packed Warriner Auditorium, stood Edna Miller. The young Ronanite from Saginaw had been transformed into a “gorgeous” Homecoming Queen candidate. As the CM Life put it: “She smiled and hearts throbbed. She winked, and cheers rose. She threw a kiss, and the men swooned” (p. 3, cols. 1-2).

Edna certainly gave the other seven candidates a run for their money. But alas, royal status was not to be Edna’s. For unknown reasons, she was disqualified from the competition. Being kicked out of the competition did not stop Edna from attempting to conquer campus. She appeared as an unofficial entry in the parade atop a throne of her own “with fifteen able men drawing her through the parade,” as the CM Life reported it (p. 2, col. 5).

Edna Miller’s campaign to take the title, which was won by Katie Flynn, failed. But Ed Miller’s campaign to liven up the Homecoming events was a resounding success.

1. This is not present day Ronan Hall, but a previous Ronan Hall, which was a men’s residence hall in 1950.