No talent AND no swimsuits? The "fix" may have been "in," in this early contest for Miss Richland, but the ogling wasn't entirely overlooked.
Talent was no help, says '47 Miss Richland
By Jini Dalen
Published on October 2, 1977
When Frances Nordman was named Miss Richland in 1947, it was a different sort of contest than the beauty pageants of today.
"You didn't have to have any talent and there was no swimsuit competition," she recalled. "It was more of a personality contest."
Now Mrs. Huck Trudell of Bellevue, she is in the Tri-Cities this weekend to attend the Atomic duPonters luncheon -- a reunion of women who worked for the first Hanford contractor.
She credits her selection as the second Miss Richland to being a member of a large family.
The five finalists were those who obtained the most votes in the community.
"To vote, you had to buy a ticket -- and I had four sisters out selling tickets for me," she recalled.
Two of them, Marge DeGooyer and Doris Gibson, still live in Richland, as does their mother, Myrtle Nordman.
Miss Richland in the Jaycee-sponsored contest 30 years ago was chosen on the basis of her conversation with the judges "and having them watch us walk around a room," Mrs. Trudell recalled.
High point of her reign was being flown by helicopter from the Pasco airport to the Richland Day parade where she climbed aboard the float that led it off.
"That was a big thing in those days -- everyone in Richland turned out," she noted. "There weren't a lot of other things to do."
Mrs. Trudell, who lived in Anchorage for the past year, said that the City's Bicentennial Parade was reminiscent of the one she presided over in Richland. Although Anchorage is a big city, it was an old fashioned parade, with homemade floats, just like the ones we had."
She remembers wearing a new and favorite pink taffeta formal to the Richland Day event. "Then we had to dash home and change into swimsuits for the boat regatta."
In the rush, Miss Richland and her court were in a traffic accident and taken to the hospital instead, her new gown in tatters.
The Nordmans moved to Washington from Hot Springs, S.D., in 1944, a year after Mr. Nordman began work on the Hanford Project. At the time, there was no available housing in Richland, so they lived the first year in Yakima.
Mrs. Trudell went to work for the duPont Co., and later for General Electric, in the blueprinting department.
When she was crowned her successor, Miss Richland 1948, the Jaycees staged an extravaganza, bringing in movie stars Janis Paige and Chill Wills for the occasion. "I think they probably lost their shirts," she added.
"But by that time, Richland was getting a lot of publicity because of the atomic bomb. Reporters came from Spokane and Seattle to cover the ceremony."
It was then that Mrs. Trudell, by now married, realized she was not too far from her Oklahoma ancestry.
"In the Spokane paper, my last name came out 'Truedale,'" the way the reporter had written it phonetically from her pronunciation.
"My husband had been telling me I was saying may own name wrong, but I never believed him before that," she said.
The Trudells have four children: Pat, 27, a law student at Gonzaga University; Tom, 25 in the automobile business in Seattle like his father, and daughters Susan, 15 and Kati, 13.
This is her first trip back to Richland for the duPonters' reunion.