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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
July 13, 1961     Times
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July 13, 1961

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iJ i ...SILTENNIAL EDITION (Times.News, Mt. Pulask/. Ill.) THURSDAY. JULY 13. 1961 Mt. Pulaski Girl "World's Fair Eileen Stopher Chosen America's Most Beautiful Farmer's Daughter Reigned at New York's World Fair In 1939 (July 13, 1939) Cinderella's shoe opened the way to a wonderful adventure but Miss Eileen Stopher's photo- graph brought her a more glor- ious adventure and nationwide prominence. Miss Stopher, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Stopher, and a very pretty and charming young country Miss of 17 summers, which must have been fair ones indeed, was selected from thous- ands of other farm girls through- out the United States as Harvest Queen of the New York World's Fair, where she reigned supreme Tuesday of this week. A Fairyland Tale The thrilling experience of be- ing selected as America's most beautiful farm maiden came with such unexpectedness and so quickly , and events have moved so swiftly since, that it has all tho intrigue of a fairyland ad- venture. Calls Times.News A long-distance telephone call from Lee Mack Marshall of New York City to the publisher of the Mount Pulaski Times-News Fri- day afternoon about 2:00 o'clock informed him that Eileen was one of four finalists in a nation- wide contest of farm girls, one of whom was to he selected as Harvest Queen of the World's Fair in a contest staged by the Continental Baking Co. The possibility of having a Queen from this community, to rule over the United States, was  to a publisher what a fire siren is to a fireman. We grabbed our photographer, Marion Robson tore up the countryside, getting out to the Stopher home, 7 miles southeast of Mount Pulaski to be ready for any emergency. The Story in Brief When we arrived at the home our young lady was on a shop-[ ping trip, but an excited mother told us the story: Learning that some farm girl in the United States was to be selected as Harvest" Queen of the World's Fair, Eileen, fresh from her rule as May Queen of Mount Pulaski Township high school at the Open House program in June, and remembering her early his- tory lessons about Christopher Columbus, she followed in his footsteps; only she used a pic- ture instead of a ship Noted Artists Moke Choice Four hours later another call came thru from New York to Mrs. Stopher, who was informed that her daughter had been chosen by three famous artists, James Mont- gomery Flagg; McClelland Bar- clay and Peter Arno, to rule as Queen of the Harvest at the Fair. She was to leave on Sunday, meet the Continental Baking Co. representatives in Chicago and would be in New York Monday morning. After that first heartbursting thrill and rejoicing in the house- hold over such a great honor which had been suddenly be- stowed upon it, came a realiz- at.ion of the fact that this trip would take the young lady more than a thousand miles from home which was almost like going to the ends of the earth when she had never been more than sixty miles from home. Left Sunday Morning Miss Stopher left Mount Pulas- ki early Sunday morning ac- companied by Mr. and Mrs. Harry $. Wible and Mr. and Mrs. Roy Carter, for Chicago, where she was met by Mr. and Mrs. Worth- liner, representatives of the Con- tinental Baking Co. They left on the Commodore Vanderbilt, a thru train with 16 .Pullmans on which she shared a compartment with her escorts, having her own private bedroom. Reporters and photographers from Chicago papers were at the station to interview her and take New York Papers Carried Stories About Crowning (July 27, 1939) Some excerpts from New York newspapers tell something of the fine publicity given Mount Pul- aski thru their Harvest Queen. In 'roday at the Fair," the official program of the New York World's Fair, a newspaper pub- lished each day, carried the fol- lowing banner line across the top of the front page: "Fair Crowns Prettiest Farmerette." This was the feature story of the front page and also carried a two column picture of Miss Stopher. From New York Times The New York Times of July 1st, with a four-deck head car- ried the following: "Fair 'Wheat- heart' Crowned at Fete"; Farm- er's Daughter, 17, Helps in Har- vest of World's Most Expensive Field;" Whalen and Artists in Rustic Attire at Continental Bak- ing Company Exhibit." The story in part carried by the New York Times: "Flushing Meadows produced wheat yesterday morning, and the World's Fair brought forth America's most beautiful farm- er's daughter, who was crowned Wheatheart of the Fair, all in celebration of Cortinental Baking Day." "Miss Stopher was greeted by Mr. Whalen, president of the Fair and received the applause of the crowd. Country airs were play- ed by Zeke Manners and his Cowboy Band and square dances were done to the hillbilly music. Mr. Arno and Mr. Flagg, artists who made the selection of the Queen, also appeared in farm clothes and the whole affair had a rural atmosphere. A bumper crop of 7 bushels was cut in the wheat field by Hank Breckenridge, who runs the Firestone Farm. Miss Stopher rode the reaper and helped Mr. Whalen and Mr. Marshall shock the wheat. The shock will remain in the field, guarded by Pene- lope, the scarecrow, until late in the summer, when the wheat will be milled. From New York Herald Tribune "After cutting the wheat, Mr. Whalen greeted and crowned Miss Eileen Stopher, 17 years old, of Mount Pulaski, Illinois, with a coronet of .wheat stalks and officially named her "Wheatheart of the Fair." Miss Stopher was the winner of a nationwide beauty contest sponsored by the Continental Baking Company, to find the most beautiful farmer's daughter. Photographs were sub- mitred by the contestants, and Miss Stopher was selected by the judges, James Montgomery Flagg, Peter Arno, and McClel- land Barclay, noted artists." From New York Journal And Americ{m "A pretty, blue-eyed girl of 17 was crowned as Harvest Queen and "Wheatheart of the Fair" to- day as the exposition paid hom- age to the first of two young ladies who were to receive laur- els during the day. The girl who presided over the Harvest was Eileen Stopher, Mt. Pulaski, Ill., who has seen many crops taken in during her life, but who never traveled more than 60 miles from her farm home before. It was a historic occasion, for the field, located behind the bak- ery's exhibit at the Fair, is the "Vv'heatheart of World's Fair" But Mount Pulaski's Sweeiheafl . ,j first on which wheat has grown in New York City in 68 years. The crop was harvested with a modern reaper and binder." pictures. On her return trip from New York she was featured on the Dinner Bell program of WLS in a specially arranged interview., Prairie Farmer also carried a special feature sta about the young lady. 3, 000 WELCOME' HOME FROM CINDERELLA (july 2O, 1909) America's most beautiful farm girl and "Wheatheart of the New York Worlds' Fair", came back home on Thursday evening of last week to complete her na- tionwide triumph as more than 3,000 cheering friends, neighbors and residents of other communi. ties gave her a welcome that would have been envied by royalty itself. Arriving on the Illinois Cen- trars crack train, the Green Dia- mond, which pulled into the sta- tion at 7:29 p_m., with the strains of a lively band number in the air, and as she stepped from the train, seeing nothing but a solid mass of smiling and happy faces upturned to greet her, it is little wonder that Queen Eileen weak- ened. As she remarked after- wards, "I was really scared, and if Mrs. Wible hadn't pushed me I might have run back into the car. I thought there might be a few folks at the station but I never expected a band and that hundreds would be there. It was mighty fine of everyone." A Happy Reunion Mother and Dad Stopher were the first to greet their daughter with feelings that were mingled with pride in the honors that had been paid to their daughter, and with joy over her safe return from a most glamorous trip that had taken her for the first time, hundreds of miles from home. She was then presented the key to the city by Alderman Bertoni. With mother and dad on either side of her and with her arms linked in theirs, Miss Eileen was escorted thru a milling crowd that at times surged forward to block her path to a waiting car that was to carry her on a tri- umphal tour to the high school. Arriving at the open car, which was a Cadillac furnished for the occasion by A. R. Staley, of De- catur, and handled by .a W. Schaffenacker, Eileen and her parents entered the car with the "Queen" sitting on top of the back seat so that the hundreds that lined the streets might oetter see her. Streets Ltnod for Blocks Led by the band and followed by the Queen's car and a special entourage of neighbors from her home community, the Birks bighborhood, and then many other cars, the procession travel- ed slowly up Washington street which was solidly Hned with cars[ and cheering crowds, as was the i square on the south and west I sides and all the way to the high l school where hundreds had al- ready entered the capacious aud- itoriurn in order to be assured i of a seat at the ceremonies that were to follow. Hundreds were unable to gain entrance. A beautiful and appropriate stage setting for the honoring of Queen Eileen was intermingled with flowers and bundles of wheat with a greeh carpeting leading up the steps to the stage and covering it. WMBD Assists John Harold Connelly, a gradu- ate of Mount Pulaski Township high school, and now a popular radio announcer with WMBD at Peoria, took charge of the even- ing as master of ceremonies, at this point, and his splendid handling of the various situ- ations that arose enabled him to share with the honored guest, the thrill of pride that ran through the audience. Entering the auditorium from the rear to the strains of a march played by Mrs. G. S. Connelly, 13 senior girls, members of this year's graduating class, formed a colorful aisle with their formals, thru which the Queen was soon to pass. This group included Mar- celia Wilson, Emagene Veech, t Hilma Wilham, Ruth Ann Voile,[ Virginia Foter, Marian Miller,[ Rosemary Schwoerer, Mildred [ Harnish, Reva Emery, Ruth Ten-[ dick, Laurine Maxheimer, Nor-[ ma Guiso, and Gladys Stockton. Former Queso's Honorod Preceding the Queen's en- trance, two girl friends of her I neighborhood, Joyce Bowers and Marilyn Mueller, in formals, 7 May Queens of former years at Mount Pulaski high, attired in formal gowns, filled the audience with pride and they wended their stage where they the master of presented to the beauties, with a and bow of plaudits of the their station and ing until the presented. These who had ruled in were: Mrs. Henry former Miss '30; Mrs. Vincent Miss Virginia Clear, Virginia Stuart, ,33; bara Barnes, Wible, '35; Mrs. merman, formerly Lane, '36; Miss Doris Miss Virginia Two tiny flower Ann McCarthy and were very sweet flower petals along over which soon to wend her trance was the newed with pride for who had been so and had brought publicity to the Entering the young maidenS, costume of a 'she had been vest Queen of World's Fair "Wheatheart" of tremendous Queen Eileen, smile that did its rapidly beating the throne presented to the Master of in his opening very charming Queens of other that when WMBD's staff the Queen from replied, "What talking about? full of mere." add that this IrA high had (Continued 1