Remembering Miss America

There aren’t too many Besses. There’s Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth the First.  There’s Forest Bess. But he’s really a Forest, not a Bess. There’s Bessie Smith, the most popular blues singer of the twenties and thirties, known as Empress of the Blues. There is also The Bessie Award given each year for innovative achievement in dance, named for honor of Bessie Schonberg.  And then there’s our family’s dear Aunt Bessie. But, probably the best known Bess I knew is Bess Myerson, Miss America in 1945. She was tall, 5′ 10″ (how I wish I was tall), beautiful and won her crown wearing a borrowed swim suit. As Commissioner of Consumer Affairs during the Lindsay Administration, I remember her showing up unannounced at markets around the city to make sure that merchants weren’t cheating on their weights and measures. Later on, she helped Ed Koch win his mayoral bid and became Commissioner of Cultural Affairs in his administration. What a blast it was to receive an award from her in 1986. Word of her death recently in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 90, drifted to New York.  After years of pageantry, stardom and public service, she spent her final years out of the limelight, but will be remembered for all her good works.

Tags: , ,