On The Bricks

October 16, 2020

In the summer of 1921, on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, the Miss America pageant was born. According to the organization, “Miss America is more than a title, it’s a movement of empowering young women everywhere to dream big, to insist that their voices be heard and to inspire change in the world around them.”

Camille Schrier was crowned Miss America 2020 this month. Schrier, who gave a chemistry demonstration on hydrogen peroxide during the talent competition, was crowned by 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin from New York.The new Miss America told the crowd during introductions that she plans to get a doctor of pharmacy degree at VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. She has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and systems biology from Virginia Tech.

Six Oklahoman women have been crowned Miss America.

Norma Des Cygne Smallwood was named Miss America in 1926, the first Native American to win the title. She was born May 12, 1909, and her hometown was Bristow, Okla. At the time she competed for Miss America, she wore her long chestnut hair in two braided buns, unlike the bobbed flapper style popular at the time. Her measurements (33-24-33) also contrasted with the flat – chested style preferred by flappers. The Tulsa World considered Smallwood’s win a victory against the flappers.

Though Smallwood had originally planned to return to Oklahoma College for Women after her year as Miss America, she instead accepted an offer to tour the United States on the Orpheum Circuit for $1,500 a week.

Smallwood married oilman, Thomas Gilcrease, on Sept. 3, 1928.  The marriage ended in divorce on May 2, 1934, and the father was awarded sole custody of their daughter. In 1936, Smallwood married George H. Bruce, president of Aladdin Petroleum Corporation. She died on May 8, 1966, in Wichita, Kan., aged 56.

Jayne Anne Jayroe was born on Oct. 30, 1946, in Clinton, Okla. She grew up in Sentinel and Laverne, Okla. As a student at Oklahoma City University, she entered the university’s pageant through her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and went on to win the Miss Oklahoma Pageant in 1966. At the age of 19, with no previous pageant experience, Jayroe was crowned Miss America 1967.

She worked as an anchor in TV news in Oklahoma City and Dallas – Fort Worth broadcast media markets for 16 years. She served Oklahoma Secretary of Tourism and Recreation  from 1999 until 2003.

She currently resides with her husband, Gerald Gamble, in Oklahoma City.

Susan Carol Powell, born Mar. 24, 1959, is a native of Elk City, Okla. She attended Oklahoma City University, where she studied vocal music and performed in summer stock at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.

She won the 1980 Miss Oklahoma pageant and the 1981 Miss America crown. A coloratura soprano, she has performed in musical theater and on opera stages around the world. In 1993, Powell embarked on a new television career, becoming the co-host of Discovery Channel‘s Home Matters home and garden program in 1993. Powell also served as one of the judges for the Miss America pageant in 2007.

Shawntel Smith, born Sept. 16, 1971, was born in Muldrow, Okla. She attended Oklahoma City University and was crowned Miss America in 1996.

Jennifer Berry was born July 18, 1983, in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Jenks (Okla.) High School in 2001, and attended the University of Oklahoma with a major in elementary education.

Berry won Miss Oklahoma 2005.

Lauren Paige Nelson is from LawtonOkla., born Nov. 26, 1986. She attended MacArthur High School and graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in public relations.

Nelson was Miss Teen Oklahoma 2004, and in this role, she performed at the 2005 Miss America pageant. A year later she won the Miss Oklahoma State Fair local title and competed in the Miss Oklahoma pageant on June 11, 2006. On the final night of competition, she was crowned Miss Oklahoma 2006, for which she received a $16,000 scholarship. At age nineteen, she was the youngest contestant to become Miss Oklahoma.

Nelson went on to represent Oklahoma in the Miss America 2007 pageant.

She was crowned Miss America 2007 and received a $50,000. She succeeded Jennifer Berry of Jenks, Okla., making this the second occurrence of consecutive state winners (Mississippi took the Miss America title in 1959 and 1960).

          Don’t miss the Chamber Banquet on Oct. 27. This year it is virtual! Contact the Chamber if you would like to order your meal from Urban Bru Kitchen which will be delivered to you during the noon hour that day while you watch the banquet awards presentations. If you would like a “ticket,” contact the Chamber of Commerce at 338-3376.