I was a little girl, my dream was to be Ms. America. “There
She Is” I could hear Burt Parks, all dressed up
in his tucks and tails, singing to me as I walked
How I wanted to perform! I use to dream
about the many ways of expressing myself and my talent
in the pageant. Would I sing? Would I tap? Would I
ballet or do jazz? How could I fit it all in? What a
hoot now that I think back on it.
Do you all remember
-- those of you who are old enough -- that beautiful
black slim evening dress Barbie wore (I’m
talking Barbie doll here)? It was a bustier, fitted
to her body and ruffled at the bottom. That was the
dress I was going to perform in. I could see myself
on stage at the microphone, singing “One
West Side Story.
Then... when I had the audience eating out of
my hand, I would rip the dress off (I never quite
had this part figured out), and underneath... wha-la
was a “June Taylor Dancer” in full leotard.
for those of you who are not old enough to know the
June Taylor Dancers, they performed on The Jackie
Gleason Show, and they were HOT! Of course, if you
know Jackie Gleason... oh well, I guess I’m showing
my age. So, as Jackie Gleason so famously said, “Let’s
go on with the show.”
So there I was, a Ms. America
contestant, dancing like a “hot” June Taylor
dancer, performing to “There’s
No Business Like Show Business!” I used to imagine
myself in that black leotard, fish-net tights, white
socks on my feet (that’s how we did jazz back then),
moving to the rhythm. I had imaged this to perfection,
in my dreams, from hours of watching the “Senior
Dancers” at the Vera Marchette’s School of
Dance in my hometown.
Then, when you thought you’d seen the best of
my talent, I would exit the stage, only to return
with a jump rope. My next move was to passionately
tap my heart out for you with this incredible dance
number I did with a jump rope to “I’ve Got
Wait! There’s more!
Can you see what is happening
here? Remember, I said I wanted to do it all. After
I charmed the audience with my song, dance and rhythm,
I was ready for my finale. Again, I would exit the
stage, only this time to return in my tu-tu and toe
shoes and woo the audience with my rendition of “Swan
Lake,” bringing them
to tears. I had this amazing “swan dying scene” to
bring the house down.
So, there you have it, my one
and only Ms. America performance. The one I dreamed
about over and over again as a little girl. And, not
only did I dream about it, I practiced it, and I practiced
it a lot.
Did it come true? Yes, and no. And here’s
what I mean:
I did get to sing.
I was a Key-Note in junior high, a small
ensemble of girls who performed for social events.
And, I continued to take chorus all through high school,
ending with my senior year song and dance performance
Age of Aquarius.”
I did get to dance.
I performed my dying “Yellow Swan” routine
in the ballet Swan Lake. And, I won “Ms.
Pinnacle” in 1962 at summer camp with my jump-rope
performance of “I’ve Got Rhythm.”
And finally, I did get the invitation to participate
in a beauty pageant. The Bus Drivers Club nominated
me for the Ms. West Florence pageant in ’71, but
I declined. By then, all my worst fears and inhibitions
had taken over. There was no way I was
going to turn my backside to a group of judges for
Why do I share this with you? Because
dreams really do come true! As children,
we have no fears about our dreams. We just have dreams,
dreams that bring us joy, dreams that allow us to
express our creativity and the essence of who we are.
Although the forms may change, the essence of our dreams
are always there.
Did my dreams come true? Absolutely!
Did they come true in the form of Ms. America? No...
and yes. I never made it to the REAL Ms. America pageant
stage, but I can promise you this: Every time
I performed, whether as a Key-Note, a ballerina,
a dancer at Vera Marchette’s
School of Dance, a shower singer or even an aerobics
instructor, I was performing. I was expressing my
essence, my creativity and living my dreams. I
was my version of Ms. America, in my mind, in my heart
and in my soul!
What about you? Are you living your
dream? Are you expressing your boldest essence to the
world – full out and
on your terms?