THE LEBANON EXPRESS, Wednesday, June 3, 1964, page 8
Festival Queens of Past Years Recalled
By Mirl Vawter
How many of you can remember back to 1909? Dusty streets, hitching racks, and public watering troughs; long skirts sweeping the ground for women, “katy” hats and celluloid collars for men. Farming was done without benefit of tractors or other power tools; few if any snorting gas buggies traveled the streets, and some towns had ordinances against them for fear of frightening the horses into running away. That was the year the first Strawberry Fair was held in Lebanon.
It was organized into three main parts, the strawberries, a rose festival and a horse show. Nothing is said in the newspapers of any queen for the event though Ida Devine is given that honor by word of mouth. Just what her duties as ruling monarch may have been will probably never be known, and she is no longer with us to let us know. Strawberries were selling in 1909 for two cents to four cents a pound, depending on quality. Notice the 100 percent variation in price, something that would never occur nowadays.
No further mention of a Strawberry Festival queen is made in newspapers until 1918. If queens there were, and people say there were, there is no more record of them than if they had never been. Surely someone must remember at least one during this barren time—we do so want to know about them. Could they all have left Oregon, with all their relatives and friends?
Strawberry festivals went on every year, and the second year instituted the free serving of strawberries and cake to all comers. The crowd was estimated at 8000 to 10,000 persons, many hundreds arriving on a special train from Albany, which alleviated the hitching problem of the day. Imagine the number of horses it took to assemble that size crowd.
In 1915 the Browning Brothers Amusement Co. was secured for the first time, a tradition that still stands. There were of course no “airplane rides” and no “space-capsules,” but there were merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, cotton candy and shooting galleries, along with throwing balls, though milk bottles were not used—it was rag dolls, then. Twenty-one young people graduated from Lebanon High school at fair time, May 27-28.
The horse show in 1916 would have delighted any horse lover; 25 floats graced the parade and a marine band from New York City, no less, furnished the musical entertainment. We can’t report on the queen, but one tiny queen had her story in the same paper: In Vancouver, Wash., a switchyard crew found a robin’s nest under a boxcar in the yard, after they could not drive the mother bird away. They were going to move the car, so they transferred the nest, in which there were brand-new nestlings, to a box, and nailed the box to a handy post. The queen mother at once took charge and began the task of feeding the three babies.
In 1917 a “Made in Lebanon” show was added to the festival attractions, and contained items from the paper mill, fancywork and art objects made by local residents. The program stated that there would be a parade of “Plug-Uglies” at 2 p.m. on Friday. (A pub-ugly was a ruffian or rowdy.) Maybe this kept them out of people’s hair!
In 1918, Verena Devine, cousin to Ida, was the Strawberry Festival queen, and had four attendants, Misses Velma Murphy and Hilda Baertline, escorted by Harry Lutz from the army and Frank Godfrey from the Navy. That was during the first World War and everything was military. Even the celebration was postponed until July 4 and combined with Independence Day programs. Instead of being called a Strawberry Queen, Miss Devine, now Mrs. Fred Knowlen, was the Goddess of Liberty. No one knows what happened to the free strawberries, cake and cream, but as it was the only 1918 festival, it was counted as a Strawberry Fair and so goes down in history. The horse show and rose festival were held quite as usual. Could the season have been late enough that there were still berries? We do not know.
The 1919 queen is a mystery, but the Mayer Building was filled to overflowing with guess what—STRAWBERRIES! There was an article in the paper stating that oil prospects near Lacomb were to be developed soon, and the people came from far and near to see an army flying machine. It did not show up, but another plane, a two-passenger, did something to ease the disappointment at not seeing the announced attraction.
The reigning monarch in 1920 was Velma Stone, now Mrs. Fred Amore; her maids-of-honor were Clara Michels and Verena Devine. That’s the year Mrs. Bert Millsap again won many firsts with her roses and Dart Long won the Baby Grand Chevrolet touring car worth $1500, as first prize in a subscription contest to the Lebanon Criterion, just about Fair time. Other prizes were fabulous too: a Mrs. Neitling won second, a trip to Yellowstone; third prize, a diamond ring, went to Frances Frum, and a Cheney phonograph to Katie Hope.
Queen Irene Hayes and her ladies-in-waiting, Ada Michelson, Katie Kent and Maxine Nichols, ruled over the 1921 Strawberry Festival, and 39 graduates got diplomas from Lebanon High. The Linn County clerk reported that he had just finished pruning dead wood from the registration lists, leaving 5999 Republicans and 3472 Democrats. Since it wasn’t an election year, we could see no special reason for so much zeal on the part of the clerk, but there it was, featured on the front page of the paper. Queen Irene is now Mrs. Lawrence Mullen.
The first Junior Queen Marjorie Billings was chosen in 1922, being crowned on Saturday, before the children's parade. It has been said that there was no senior queen that year, but this is a mistake: Next to the last day for voting on the queen, the Lebanon Express announced that Maxine Nichols was well ahead, so with no further news on the subject we feel safe in assuming that Maxine was Strawberry Queen. Prizes that year for best roses was $1.50 and bought much more than that sum would today. The fair was very late, near the end of June.
Queen Garnette Parton of 1923 was the first wearer of the red velvet and ermine robe, the first to receive the jeweled crown. LaVelle Guy, Erma Randall and Carrie Downing attended the royal Garnette. Berry varieties in competition included Marshall, Etterburg, Wilson, New Oregon and Gold Dollar, given in the printed schedule. The queen is now Mrs. Si Cramer.
Strawberria’s ruler in 1924 was Erma Randall, a lady-in-waiting of last year’s court, and now Mrs. Orton Kent of Lebanon. Her court included Sada Fee, Mildred Bogart and Lucille Vaughan. Perhaps you will meet Queen Erma at this year’s Strawberry Festival.
Nolia Walker was crowned queen on the Hotel Lebanon balcony. This year of 1925 the custom of having aspirants from neighboring communities was begun and Queen Nolia hailed from Corvallis, where she still lives; though she has changed her name to Mrs. Karl Gatchell. While her court was called “winsome” in the paper, their names were not announced and so we cannot tell you who these beauteous maidens were; we do know there were three. Free berries, cake and cream were served as usual to all who came, and Lebanon High’s graduating class numbered 33.
The festival was early in 1926, May 14 and 15, and its royal court was composed of Queen Grace Fowler, now Mrs. George Surry, with her ladies-in-waiting, Madge Armstrong, Zeta Fee and Doris Walker. Some 600 acres of strawberries were being grown in the Lebanon area, and Claude Cox, son of J.W. Cox, brought a 15-box crate of berries to town; it weighed 15 pounds and contained 160 berries. That’s between ten and 11 berries per box, folks, and we thought we grew some big ones now!
Leola Sylvester of Lacomb captured the honor of becoming 1927’s Strawberry queen; her royal attendants included Dale Wilson, Audrey Hayes, Lucile Weeks, Rose Andersen, Donna Gill and Vivian Weddle. Glen Cozine came along later and married the queen, and took her to live in that town of Eugene.
In 1928 Rita Fitzwater was queen of Strawberryland, and was attended by Thelma Blankenship, Wanda Reeves, Avis Langmack, and Esther McKinney. The queen later became Mrs. John Saager.
A Lebanon girl was crowned Queen Leneve in 1929, Leneve Maxwell, now Mrs. Merle Davenport. Six lovelies paid their homage: Genevieve Buntin, Ila Burrell, Sylvia Elliott, Mary Clem, Virginia Hall and Annie Skinner. Queen Leneve may be in attendance at this year’s festival, watch for her.
Lebanon pioneers were specially honored at 1930's’Strawberry Festival, the theme of the occasion being "On to Oregon.” Long dresses replaced the short shapeless sacks for a few days, and beards, covered wagons and such were much in evidence. Queen Bertha Schackman, Albany’s candidate, won the honor of ruling the Strawberry Festival, with her royal ladies, Maxine Bogart, June Lee, Kathleen Skinner and Jeannette Snider.
Queen Bertha was liberally endowed with flower girls: she had four, Charlotte Bohle, Nancy Kirkpatrick, Sally Irvine, Dorothy Bohle. The main speaker and crowner-of-the-queen, Hon. George W. Joseph, arrived too late to do the honors, which Hugh Kirkpatrick had already performed, but we are informed that his speech was not curtailed. Free vaudeville acts were performed on a platform built on Main Street.
Nineteen-thirty-one, and Albany’s choice again won the honor of becoming Strawberry queen. Gertrude Mishler was attended by Alice Sturtevant, Alma Philipi, Vera Graf, Margaret Moore, LaDonna Snyder, Elsie Hamilton, Valeta Story and Audrey Wolfe. Depression loomed large on the horizon, though everyone hoped it would go away if only it were ignored, and the fun went merrily on at strawberry time.
A new method of choosing candidates for strawberry queen was instituted in 1932; whereas it had been simply a girl from each community, now it was to be a girl from each school in the county. The first so chosen was Queen Edith Morgan of Tangent, now Mrs. Dell Russell.Her maids of honor were Ethel Webber of Waterloo, Vivian From, Halsey, Marybelle Barrett, Albany, Jerry Rogers, Scio, Elain Abraham, Shedd, Margaret Hand, Harrisburg, Lurlyn Elkins, Lebanon and Irene Fox, Brownsville. The queen’s ball was at the American Legion hall. Sixty-nine seniors finished Lebanon High school in 1932.
Queen LaVon Richardson of 1933, the really black depression year, reigned in undampened enthusiasm over Lebanon’s Strawberry Festival, with her seven attendants, Violet Cody, Margaret Piper, Vera Wiley, Frances Gibson, Louise Barnes, Emma Jaquith and Jeanne Satchell, Queen Bonnie, as she was known to her friends later became nationally known through having her picture in a magazine. The queen is now Mrs. E. M. Gibson.
The Silver Jubilee of Strawberrydom! Twenty-five years of horse and rose shows, strawberry contests, carnivals, vaudeville, and many other items of interest bring the crowds that annually visit Lebanon, not the least of which is the choosing of the strawberry festival queen. Josele Stuart and her lovely maids, Dorothy Duncan, Shirley Morse, Irene Palon, Dorothy Pearson, Ione Miller, Maca Bradrick, Velma Simon and Cora Clark, rode the parade route in Stanley Steamers.
The cake for the first time was one huge one instead of many small ones, the idea of Baker Munyan; the tradition is still carried on, and the huge cake is as much a part of the festival as the queen herself. Queen Josele is now Mrs. Fred H. Ward. Wonder if we could get Howard Collins to repeat for us the original strawberry fair song written and set to music by his wife, Florence?
Alice Bayne, Albany, we think, was crowned queen in 1935. Her court was formed of Frances Moyes, Audrie Bartu, Estaline Saylor, Wilda McIntosh, Mabel Farwell, Leona Gilgenbach, Florence Hull and Helen Murphy. Queen Alice has since become Mrs. Walter Lenhard.
Martha Cook, Harrisburg won the right to rule over the 1936 strawberry festival, with her ladies, from the county’s schools, Elva Colbry, Phyllis Morse, Lucille Scheer, Crystal Ross, Carolyn Ruth, Iona Bullis, Betty Fitzpatrick, Ruby Nystrom and Ruth Russell. The beautiful Queen Martha still lives in Harrisburg but to reach her you must now ask for Mrs. Lester Estergard.
Nineteen-thirty-seven, and prosperity was still hiding—around a corner, we were told, but we seemed never to quite reach it. But come well or come ill, strawberries grow and queens must rule. The Albany candidate, Coral Dirret, became Queen Coral, and from other schools came her ladies-in-waiting, Stephana Holeck, Loretta Held, Zona Nance, Helen Slate, Nellie Forster, Grace Bartruff, and Iris Abraham, Queen Coral’s present title is Mrs. Platt Davis.
To the traditional velvet robe and jeweled tiara was added an arm bouquet of red roses in 1938, and Queen Nadine Nichols was the first to receive it. KOAC broadcast publicity of the Strawberry Fair. The brunette Queen Nadine was crowned in the high school auditorium surrounded by her court, Ardis Springer, Shedd, Reva Hughes, Sweet Home, Virginia Hooker, Albany, Lawne Sander, Halsey, Blanche Garrett, Brownsville, Ethel May Murphy, Harrisburg, Evelyn Kendle, Scio and Marian Richardson, Tangent. Jim Tolbert married the queen.
Movie comedian Edward Everett Horton was in attendance at the 1939 Strawberry Fair, and was the one who crowned Queen Evelyn Mick, now Mrs. Bob Peterson, of Lebanon. We might add that you may think of shoes when you think of Queen Evelyn. Her attendants came from county schools: Joan Salz, Scio, Edna Webber, Shedd, Dorothy Barnes, Sweet Home, Carol Thornton, Brownsville, Pearl Burk, Harrisburg, Doris Falk, Halsey, Ruby Grell, Tangent and Alice Merrill, Albany.
Dorothy Dvorak, Albany’s choice, became 1940’s Strawberry Queen, attended by Laurel Childs, Annabelle McKinley, Berniece Lynskog, Donna Shaffer, Lorelie Stewart, Maxine Hughes, Maxine Bilyeu and Eloise Babcock. In addition to the usual horse and rose shows, a band festival brought bands from many places in the Willamette Valley, and furnished music aplenty the whole three days of the fair.
Nineteen-forty-one seemed a usual year till Dec. 7, so at strawberry time there was the usual rose show, horse show and strawberry festival, whose queen was Ruth Schackman, crowned by Governor Sprague. Queen Ruth’s maids of honor were Katherine Hargan, Louise Windom, Markie Weatherford, Jean Garfett, Barbara Lindsey, Ellen Sorenson and Geraldine Shaver. The queen’s escort was Harry Miller and her flowergirl was little Miss Barbara Mayer. In 1942 Queen Ruth reigned over the Calapooya Roundup at Crawfordsville, carrying on her royal activities. Then a “prince” came along in the person of Wesley Lenox, and claimed Queen Ruth.
There were no festivals in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945. Rationing must have posed problems, and since traveling was now done on gasoline instead of hay and oats, and since sugar was said to be scarce, even though nobody with a stamp ever failed to get some, the fairs were discontinued, through the war years. It isn’t much fun anyway, if most of the crowd is female; I know. Then 1945 saw the end of the conflict and rationing, some of the boys came home, and in 1946 there was another strawberry festival.
Queen Donna Davis, Corvallis was the reigning beauty and crowds topped all previous records of attendance; it was estimated that up to 15,000 attended on Saturday to see Scotty Stark, world-famous parachute jumper make his 869th leap. The ladies-in-waiting and maids-of-honor had by now become the princesses we know today and Queen Donna’s were Patricia Hileman, Bonnie Nelson, Zota Sinclair, Betty Long, Marty Stroda, Patricia Beck and Mary Egar. Queen Donna is now Mrs. Max Elder Jr.
Red Dunning rode in the 1947 parade and it was Lebanon’s centennial year. Out came the beards and sunbonnets again, and all the trappings of wagon train days, as Lebanon folk lived over again in retrospect the events of a 100 years gone. Pretty Donna McKinney, Shedd was crowned Queen Donna II, and with her court of Pat Quinn, Hilda Fleming, Claribel Turner, Lucille Villanueva, Deloris Smith, Pat Lee and Joanne Beloat. The paper mill held open house during the fair, and Lebanon'’ largest class, 105, finished high school. Queen Donna II married Art Ohling and still reigns in her small empire.
Queen Marilyn Musgrave, we think was from Corvallis, headed the 1948 Strawberry Royal court, chosen May 19 at Cottonwoods, a few days before we arrived in Oregon, but we did see the big parade and taste of the shortcake, marveling that it was all given free. We still marvel that Lebanon can do so much better at entertainment given free than can other cities which put on traditional fetes. Nor do we want it changed. To our mind, there’s no town like Lebanon, in every way—welcome, treatment accorded strangers, kindness to just us folks when there’s nobody else here, by merchants, people and even dogs which have been known to wag a friendly tail. One feature of 1948’s exhibits was a coffee table made by Elmer Richardson, which contained 23 different species of Oregon-grown woods. Yes, Queen Marilyn had a court of beauties: Wanda Mummert, Betty Vernon, Mildred Nickel, Eileen Norman, Viola Crenshaw, Beverly Nelson and Patsy Lutz.
Strawberries sold at 14 cents a pound in 1949 and the IOOF hall was full of them, entered in the keen competition for best berries. The old horse show had become a series of horse races, with possibly even more interest. The 40th year for the Browning shows was celebrated with a huge floral collar for one of the Brownings, but as the amusement company is said to have arrived on the scene in 1915 and could not have performed in 1942-45, unless it came without benefit of a strawberry fair, and it could have done this—well, even so I count only 35 years, and if it did not visit us in the war years, 31. However we can’t get around that collar! Forty years, they said. Queen Charlotte Pease was from Corvallis, and her princesses included Janet Corbett, Mary Ann Turner, Joanne Sefert, Norma Latimer, Mavis Peterson and Joy Kilgore. When Queen Charlotte’s knight came riding, his name was John Sprick.
Perfect weather in 1950 enabled Queen DeWanda Hamilton to be crowned and robed on the high school lawn, now the Junior High school lawn and much more beautiful than the Senior High environs are, which reminds us that 126 graduated that year. Her royal highness was attended by Jackie Whitmore, Mary Waddell, Jane Slocum, Betty Schackman, Adelean Rous, Joan Davis, Elaine Guggisberg, Alice Canaga and Ardeth Benz—nine princesses. There had been no Lebanon queen for so long that the method of selecting her highness was changed, and candidates sold buttons, the one selling the most to become the queen. The carnival was right down Main Street, with planks mounted on bricks all along sidewalks for resting feet while visitors sat. The flower show counted 212 entries, and Mrs. Phil Lanning was its chairman.
Thirty thousand persons are reported to have viewed the Strawberry parade in 1951, when Deloris Welch, an honor student in Lebanon High school’s junior class, was crowned queen of strawberria at twilight on the high school lawn, by Richard Davis, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Queen Deloris’ royal princesses attended her:Eva Lou Sparks, Myrna Weaver, Nancy Moenke, Leona Neustal, Patty Jo Ruth, Beverly Canoy, Donna Casebolt, Elsie Kay Collier and Jackie Calavan. Stock car race was won by Keith Olson, Portland, and a square dance took place on Main Street. Junior royalty was Queen Carla Garrison and King George Myran Jr.
Main Street was again closed for the Strawberry Fair in 1952, and again ten girls vied for the honor of becoming her majesty. Winner was Queen Glenda Campbell, now Mrs. Harley Rex, and those who almost made it too were Princesses Melodie Baldwin, Carol Chisholm, Pat Dodds, Janet Connett, Beverly Johnson, Barbara Elmer, Lora Housen, Luan Chandler and Joanne Raines. Joe McPherson had a log truck in the parade carrying one “stick” 40 feet long and five feet in diameter, containing 6000 board feet of lumber. Couldn’t you build a house with that much, if you were a carpenter of course?
The Elks lodge was the 1953 scene of Queen Darlene Powell’s investment with royal rank; her crown was conferred on her by Audrey Mistretta, who was Miss Oregon of 1951. A senior in high school, which sent 143 graduates out to meet the world that year, was attended by eight princesses, Janet Humphries, Louise Bishop, Neva Seems, Deloris Lucas, Jean Williams, Carine Kofoid, Peggy Knapp and Carol Wilshire. An all-woman softball game was played at Lebanon Meadows on Saturday night and Sherman Street west was a maze of gaudily painted new farm machinery that cost so much none of the prices were marked. The 1953 queen is now Mrs. Bill Nelson.
Once we marched in the Strawberry parade. It was 1954 and the new Lebanon Geological Society entered some of its members, rockhounds of course, and a pebble pup, a small dog which had two pieces of lava foam strapped on its back, and looked as if the weight of what was certainly rock out to weigh him down! We gave spectators "geological specimens," that is just plain rocks, and had more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Or one or two monkeys at the zoo; they are more fun than a barrel anyway. Beautiful Phyllis Greer received the royal robe and crown, and was attended by a bevy of lovely princesses, Barbara Galarneau, Beverly Berland, Joyce Larvik, DeLoris Powell, Nancy Turner, Laverne Stevahn, Joyce Anderson and Marceil Smith.
Junior King was Roger Clark, and queen was Cheryl Anne Copeland. Britton’s won the sweepstakes award with a huge float of the old woman and a quite floral shoe; we wondered how it would do in the rain, but it was so pretty, who cared? in the fine summer weather. Queen Phyllis became the bride of Sylvan Fritts.
Governor Paul Patterson crowned Queen Darlene II (Edwards), in the Elks lodge at the beginning of the 1955’s Strawberry Festival. The buttonselling had been discontinued and candidates for majesty were selected by students and teachers of Lebanon High school, which insured a Lebanon queen each year. This resulted in a smaller royal court, and so Queen Darlene II had four princesses, a practice still in effect. Serving her majesty in 1955 were Jeanette Dolson, Gwen Wilson, Lynn Stegman and Nita Rae Weber. Queen Darlene II had also been Lebanon’s Queen of the May, and later represented our community at a gathering of strawberry queens from all parts of the United States, at Glenwood Springs, Calif. Did you know there were so many strawberry queens? Pacific Power & Light’s salute to Lewis and Clark won the sweepstakes in the parade and 35,000 are reported to have visited the home show during the fair. Queen Darlene II is now queen of the Don Carroll household.
An honor graduate of Lebanon High in 1956, Queen Miriam Brown was crowned Strawberry ruler of the festival with Princesses Carol Hoeck, Marilyn Swanson, Betty Moore and Nancy Weitzel. On Saturday, June 15 Queen Miriam was again crowned, this time in Bend at the Oregon Newspapers Publisher convention. Governor Elmo Smith gave her the proud title of Miss Strawberry Shortcake in the impressive ceremony.
Nineteen-fifty-seven’s strawberry queen was elevated to royal rank in the Kuhn theater. She was Queen Judy Haseman, and received her crown from 1956’s Royal Highness, Queen Miriam. Her lovely princesses were Beverly Hanson, Barbara Jamison, Judy Carlson, Sally Walker. A large home show was held along with the carnival at Santiam school, and the paper asked for 1000 more berry pickers than they had registered.
Governor Robert Holmes placed the royal crown on the head of Queen Launa Drummond in 1958, at Santiam school. Her attendant princesses were Linda Durst, escorted by Victor Fitzgerald; Jean Wilcox with Jack Haynes; Dee Primrose with Stan Pesek and Judy Mitchell with Bob Johnson Jr. Junior majesties were Bobby May, bearer of the crown, and trainbearers, Julie McCann and Sara Sims.
Queen Dixie Lee Allison was 1959’s reigning beauty, since become Mrs. James McKinley. She had received many honors, BPW girl of the month, honor society, editor of the 1959 annual—she was remarkable before she attained royal status. Her princesses were Kay Parker, Judy Girod, LaVonne Kindopp and Sherry Pearson.
Queen Janis Gilbert, now Mrs. Don Allen, was 1960’s strawberry queen, assisted by Princesses Joyce Collin, Barbara Britton, Carla Garrison and Becky Lanning. Queen Janis went on to become an airline hostess; think of flying practically everywhere! How does one settle back to earth after this?
Midway Mystics was the title of 1961’s Browning Brothers carnival, and Queen Suzie Woods was the title of Strawberryland’s 1961 ruler. Queen Suzie, her junior counterpart, Queen Marjorie Gustine and her court, Jan Girod, Pat Allison, Betty Moynihan and Pat Nicholas, were privileged to meet Space Nurse Lt. Dolores O’Hara, a former graduate of LUHS, whose class numbered 240 in 1961.
Once we attended the queen’s banquet at the new Lebanon Union High school, in 1962. We heard the five lovely princesses speak at dinner, and later in the auditorium, saw Queen Clella Iles invested with the jewels and robes of Strawberrydom’s monarch. Almost as happy as she were her four Princesses, Carla Heusser, Cheryl McAdams, Sandra Fenner and Laura Garrison. The girls carried the most bewitching colonial bouquets and wore the most beruffled frocks!
There was junior royalty too, lots of it. Junior Queen Janet Bergman had Princesses Cathy Freeman, Jeanne Tow, Laurie Schaefer, Diana Lanning, Connie Cox, Leanna Morse and Marla Hearon. A street dance was held between Main and Park by the old Safeway store, Queen Clella crowned her junior counterpart, and now is a student in Seattle Pacific College.
And now it is another year, with a new queen, new royal court, new everything. But somebody else will tell you about all of them. As for us, our story is in the past.
Donated by Patricia Dunn. Posted November 5, 2000.
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