Electrical Storm over the Challenger

1 August 2013
Photo Credit: NASA

Photo Credit: NASA

On August 30, 1983, leading up to the launch of the Challenger on mission STS-8, a powerful electrical storm lit up the skies around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This photo was captured as the rain and lightning danced around the Challenger and striking near the orbiter stack. Sam Walton of United Press International is credited with this image that was taken by a remote camera. Not long after, the storm died down and the Challenger preceded with its launch at 2:32 a.m. (it was the first shuttle night launch and night landing). Included in this six day mission to release an Indian communications and weather observation satellite was Guy Bluford, the first African-American in space.

John Tyler: Most Children

31 July 2013
John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was born on March 29, 1790 and died on January 18, 1862 in Virginia.

John Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was born on March 29, 1790 and died on January 18, 1862 in Virginia. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

President John Tyler had the most children of any president – 15 children with two wives. He also still has two living grandchildren! Born in 1790, Tyler was the 10th President of the United States, serving from 1841-1845. He took office after the sudden death of President William Henry Harrison and was nicknamed “His Accidency.”

Letitia Christian Tyler, first wife of US President John Tyler. Photo Credit: NPS

Letitia Christian Tyler. Photo Credit: NPS

Tyler married Letitia Christian in 1813. She only made one public appearance when Tyler became president – it was said she was an invalid. In September 1842, Letitia died of a stroke in the White House. They had eight children:

  • Mary Tyler (1815-1847)
  • Robert Tyler (1816-1877
  • Anne C. Tyler (died at birth)
  • John Tyler (1819-1896)
  • Letitia Christian Tyler (1821-1907)
  • Elizabeth Tyler (1823-1850)
  • Alice Tyler (1827-1854)
  • Tazewell Tyler (1830-1874)
Julia Tyler. Photo Credit: NPS

Julia Gardiner Tyler. Photo Credit: NPS

A few months after his wife’s death, Tyler began courting 23-year-old Julia Gardiner (30 years his junior). They married on June 26, 1844. The new First Lady enjoyed her new duties and took an active role in the house and community. They had seven children together:

  • David Gardiner Tyler (1846-1927)
  • John Alexander Tyler (1848-1883)
  • Julia Gardiner Tyler (1849-1871)
  • Lachlan Tyler (1851-1902)
  • Lyon Gardiner Tyler (1853-1935)
  • Robert Fitzwalter Tyler (1856-1927)
  • Pearl Tyler (1860-1947)

If your wondering how this pre-Civil War president could still have two living grandchildren, you’re probably not alone! President Tyler was around 63-years-old when he and Julia welcomed Lyon Gardiner Tyler in 1853. Lyon was married twice. He first married Anne Baker Tucker, with whom he had three children. After Anne’s death in 1921, he married Sue Ruffin. They had three children, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. (b. 1924), Harrison Ruffin Tyler (b. 1928) and Henry Tyler (died at birth). Lyon was 72-years-old when Lyon Jr. was born. Both Lyon Jr. and Harrison are still alive. Harrison resides at the Sherwood Forest Plantation, the historical Tyler family home in Virginia. In an interview with New York Magazine in early 2012, Harrison was asked about his brother and responded that “he’s not doing good.”

John Tyler's son and living grandsons.

John Tyler’s son and living grandsons. Photo Credits (left to right): Internet Archives; Franklin Lions Club; New York Magazine

Video of President John Tyler’s grandson – Lyon Tyler Jr.

Dan Amira, “President John Tyler’s Grandson, Harrison Tyler, on Still Being Alive,” New York Magazine, January 27, 2012.
National Park Service, “Biographical Sketches: John Tyler.”
Sherwood Forest

Girl with Little Lion, Atlantic City Beach, 1900

30 July 2013

Girl posing on the Atlantic City Beach with a little lion, ca. 1900.

Shepherd with Dog, 1942

29 July 2013
Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photographer Russell Lee captured this shepherd with his horse and dog on Gravelly Range, Madison County, Montana in August 1942. Lee is perhaps best known for his work with the Farm Security Administration (FSA), where he documented rural and small-town life as people dealt with the Great Depression, Dust Bowl and increasing farm mechanization. During the eight years the FSA existed, it complied a photo-documentary collection of 77,000 photographs as well as 644 color documentary still photographs.

Leaning Tower of Pisa & WWII

28 July 2013

The story of how a 23-year-old GI saved the Leaning Tower of Pisa during World War II.

Two German Nazi SS soldiers admire the Cathedral in Pisa with the famed Leaning Tower in the foreground, in 1943, during the German occupation of Italy in World War II. Photo Credit: AP Photo/HistoryPhoto.net

Two German Nazi SS soldiers admire the Cathedral in Pisa with the famed Leaning Tower in the foreground, in 1943, during the German occupation of Italy in World War II. Photo Credit: AP Photo

Completed in 1372, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Only Pisa’s Cathedral and Baptistry are older than the tower in the famous Italian town’s Cathedral Square. During World War II, the town found itself under German control. The Tower was used as an observation post – a perfect location given the flat, coastal terrain surrounding Pisa.

The Allies struggled to get to the Tuscan town in the summer of 1944. Partly because of the marshy grounds surrounding Pisa, but mainly because the Germans were being quite stubborn in their attacks. Booby-traps lay at every corner as the Americans advanced with slow movements. It seemed the Germans were especially accurate in their missile strikes that Allies decided that the enemy must have lookouts in the tower.

Photo was taken near the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence while on a rest break from the snowed in stalemated winter of 44-45. Photo Credit: Leon Weckstein Website

Leon Weckstein near the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence while on a rest break from the snowed in stalemated winter of 44-45. Photo Credit: Leon Weckstein Website

Finally, the Americans neared the outskirts of Pisa, the last two-and-a-half mile stretch was nothing less than a killing zone. The top brass wanted to know how the Germans were using the infamous building and decided to send someone to scout it. Staff Sgt. Leon Weckstein of the 91st Infantry Division had remarkable powers of observation and would spend 16 hours a day manning forward observation posts and directed artillery and mortar fire. He became their guy.

“I really did have unusual powers of observation, particularly a latent aptitude for discerning a camouflaged Panzer tank or a dug-in machine gun position before anyone else could,” Weckstein later said. The tower’s fate laid in the eyes of a 23-year-old California native who, in 1942, was rejected by the Navy for being short-sighted. The infantry accepted him but, then again, “they take anyone,” he remarked.

Weckstein and his radioman, Tech. Sgt. Charles King, were informed of their new mission. It would be dangerous as they entered a no-man-zone between the American and German forces. If enemies were indeed using the tower, Weckstein had to radio in – “This is Able George Two… Fire!”  – and Allied forces would have leveled the tower in seconds. His commander told Weckstein to call in fire at anything that looked suspicious while infantry gun batteries and an offshore destroyer waited patiently for the signal.

After smearing mud on their faces, King strapped on his bulky field radio while Weckstein grabbed his telescope and ventured into unexplored open fields and orchards. From an olive grove, Weckstein observed the tower that soldiers had nicknamed the “Tiltin’ Hilton” while King waited to relay information through the radio. “There wasn’t a single doubt in my audacious, 23-year-old mind that I really was about to do the deed, to direct sallies of doomsday fusillades against one of the world’s most famous monuments,” Weckstein later wrote.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa photographed in 2012. Photo Credit: Source

The Leaning Tower of Pisa photographed in 2012. Photo Credit: Source

Weckstein was methodical in his observations. “I focused first on the highest point, the broad circular campanile of the tower. I could easily make out the shadowy silhouette of the old bells, quiet now, but nothing moved. I took my time training the ‘scope ever so slowly up, down, and across each elaborately ornamented balustrade, attempting to discern anything that might be hidden within those black recesses and arches.”

For those few minutes, he had the power to decide the fate of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. By radioing in “fire” one of the world’s ‘wonders’ would, in Weckstein’s words, “have easily turned . . . to chunks of splintered marble.” As he sat there and took in the tower’s beauty, he was overcome and held off calling it in until he was certain.

Weckstein was still transfixed when shells burst overhead. The Germans had launched an airborne attack in Weckstein and King’s directions. They radioed back and were told to retreat back to camp. The top brass had already decided on different attack plan and the tower was spared. Whether the Germans were actually in the tower on that hot and muggy July day is still unknown. Looking back Weckstein stated: “You know something? I’ve had 50 years to think about it, and I’m pretty sure they were.”

Because of his actions during World War II, Weckstein was awarded many American and foreign awards including the highly esteemed Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Infantry Blue Rifle Badge, Italy’s Croce al Valor Militare, Poland’s Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords and the city of Pisa’s Silver Medallion. After the war, he and his wife Mimi visited Italy a few times and Weckstein returned to that pivotal spot he was at in 1944. “I could easily have been looking at shattered marble ruins … if not for an act of fate,”

In his wartime memoir, Through My Eyes, Weckstein summarizes the extent of the Leaning Tower of Pisa mission and war’s effect on its surroundings:

As the only witness to what might have been a world-shaking, historic mission, King must certainly have realized how close we had come to destroying the monumental Tower. . . . [W]ithout Pisa’s magnificent logo, [it] would have become a tragedy of timeless proportions. Yet, at odds with that conjecture, if I could have been sufficiently certain that shelling the Tower would have preserved the life of even one of our comrades, I’d have done it in a flash without giving a second thought to the consequences.  Such is war.  Celebrated shrines and houses of worship had been declared out of bounds by the Geneva Conventions, but if the truth were known, that along with most other well-meaning peace agreements seemed to make little difference in the infantry’s height of battle.

Further Reading
Why I spared the Leaning Tower of Pisa,” The Guardian, January 12, 2000.
Bethanne Kelly Patrick, “Staff Sgt. Leon Weckstein,” Military.com.
Leon Weckstein website

Odd Ads: Kellogg’s PEP Cereal, 1930s

27 July 2013

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Often listed under “Sexist Ads of the Past,” this 1930s Kellogg’s PEP cereal advertisement sure does speak about time in which it was created. In 1938, the Kellogg’s Company introduced several new innovations including Kellogg’s PEP cereal. According to Kellogg’s, PEP was the “first cereal fortified with vitamins B and D through the ‘spray’ method, marking the beginning of the cereal industry’s food fortification processes.”

The two-part advertisement features a husband and wife who are depicted in a photograph and a smaller cartoon. The larger photograph shows the husband dressed in suit as if just returning from work. The women, clothed in traditional housewife attire (dress, heels, apron and feather duster), is embraced by her husband as he exclaims, “So the harder a wife works, the cuter she looks!” The smaller cartoon rounds it out by bringing the consumer’s eye back to Kellogg’s PEP cereal:

HUSBAND:  “Gosh, Honey, you seem to thrive on cooking, cleaning, and dusting — and I’m all tuckered out by closing time. What’s the answer?”
WIFE: “Vitamins, darling! I always get my vitamins!”

The bottom of the page has part of the cereal box with the tagline – “Vitamins for pep! PEP for Vitamins!” So there you have it! If you need to get through a day at the office or a day “cooking, cleaning, and dusting” remember to take your vitamins…

Kellogg’s Company

Mug Shots: Goldie Williams

26 July 2013

Mug shot: A photograph of someone’s face especially one made for police records. The word ”mug shots” comes from the British slang word “mug” meaning “face.”

On January 29, 1898, Goldie Williams (also known as Meg Murphy) was arrested by the Omaha Police for vagrancy. At the time of her arrest, she was described as 5 feet tall and 110 pounds, her left index finger was broken and she had a cut below her right wrist. Williams listed her home as Chicago and occupation as a prostitute. In her mug shot she is seen sitting defiantly with her arms crossed sporting an elaborate hat with satin ribbons and feathers and wearing large hoop earrings.

Catching Alligators, 1925

25 July 2013

[Zim’s Note: I came across these photos a few months ago. After debating what to post today, I suddenly thought of these photos of men catching alligators. The majority of the comments I receive from readers is that they enjoy not knowing what will be posted from day to day. That is something I have come to love and embrace about History By Zim. The seemingly randomness of everything. If I want to post about Chuck Norris advertising jeans or an invention that gives people dimples, I will in a heartbeat. So I encourage you, my fellow History By Zim’ers or Zimites, embrace the randomness because history is full of it!]

These men, and a boy, were part of 1925 zoological expedition to Southern Georgia. Their purpose was to collect material about the American Alligator, their nests and eggs to be part of a Zoology Reptiles diorama.

Three men poling for an alligator. The cypress pole is 32 feet long with a heavy barbed hook bolted to the butt end for catching alligators. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Three men poling for an alligator. The cypress pole is 32 feet long with a heavy barbed hook bolted to the butt end for catching alligators. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Man with alligator that was caught by poling in swamp. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Man with alligator that was caught by poling in swamp. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Man in boat with alligator caught on a tarpon hook on No. 9 wire baited with alligator tail. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Man in boat with alligator caught on a tarpon hook on No. 9 wire baited with alligator tail. Photo Credit: The Field Museum Library

Three men and a boy and a very large Lake Miccosukee American alligator caught by baiting a tarpon hook with beef. Photo Credit: The Field Library Museum

Three men and a boy and a very large Lake Miccosukee American alligator caught by baiting a tarpon hook with beef. Photo Credit: The Field Library Museum

For the country’s first and oldest alligator farm, check out St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

Duck and Cover (1951)

24 July 2013

In January 1952, the U.S. government’s civil defense branch publicly aired Duck and Cover in schools. The film, created a year before, was part of the government’s “duck and cover” campaign that reiterated the fact that nuclear war could happen at any moment and people needed to prepare themselves – especially children. The campaign (as well as other civil defense public awareness programs) began shortly after the Soviet Union began nuclear testing.

As allies only a few years early during World War II, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were now at a standoff. At the end of World War II, the U.S. held the power of nuclear weapons and the Soviets raced to achieve the weaponry as well. On September 23, 1949, President Truman notified the world that the Soviet Union had detonated their first nuclear device: “We have evidence that within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the U.S.S.R.” The nuclear stage of the Cold War began.

The U.S. government warned the public of the possibility of a nuclear war. Survival was on the forefront of everyone’s minds. The “duck and cover” campaign was aimed at children as the best method of personal protection against a nuclear explosion. Schools around the country held drills in which children would have to stop everything and duck and cover their heads. In the film above, Bert the Turtle informs schoolchildren how to effectively duck and cover in any situation.


WWI Soldiers’ Reception at the American Y.M.C.A. in Liverpool, 1918

23 July 2013
Photo Credit: UA Archives - Upper Arlington Public Library (Repository: UA Historical Society)

Photo Credit: UA Archives – Upper Arlington Public Library (Repository: UA Historical Society)

John Wesley Pontius, an Upper Arlington resident who was Secretary of the Columbus Y.M.C.A, left for England in 1918 to take part in the military work of the Y.M.C.A. during World War I. While away, J. W. Pontius contributed to the Norwester Magazine, and, following his return several months later, continued to write about his experiences abroad. One of his articles, from the December 1918 Norwester magazine, was accompanied by this photograph of newly arrived United States soldiers enjoying refreshments at the American Y.M.C.A. in Liverpool. The article paints a vivid picture of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a 36-square-mile convoy of ships. It describes the harrowing experience of spending a night stranded by fog deep within a hostile submarine zone, as well as the pleasure of watching whales and porpoises swimming alongside the ships.

Road Trip Ramblings: Rainy Day Revelations

22 July 2013

Day 1: Finding our “Branches”
Day 3: Looking for James

Finding our Branches

Louisville, Kentucky
Tuesday, June 18, 2013 (Day 2)

After spending the afternoon yesterday digging around Shelbyville’s library for family records, we decided to take a break and explore. This morning, we drove over to Louisville and toured the historic Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum and saw the world’s largest bat – of both the baseball and vampire variety – because that seems characteristic of the randomness of this trip.

Grandstands at Churchill Downs. Photo by Zim

Grandstands at Churchill Downs. Photo by Zim

Again tonight I am stuck writing in the tent after another torrent of rain, this time with the added fun of thunder and lighting. The afternoon was quite pleasant and the storm seemed to barrel in unexpectedly. Seeing dark clouds over the campsite’s tree line, my sister and I decided to use the facilities, hoping to beat the heavy, angry clouds.

We were not successful. As we exited the building, the rain had beaten us. Pouring down in sheets, we paused under the overhang debating our next move. We could either wait it out with no phones for who knows how long, or we could make a run for it.

Amidst the lightning and rumble of thunder, my sister looks at me and shrugs, “I say we make a run for it.” Never one to fear a little singing in the rain, I simply responded in agreement. As a multiple umbrella owner, I cannot recall a time I ever used one. Water has never fazed me as a resident in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

This water, on the other hand, was like walking – fully clothed – through a continuous waterfall. With shoes in hand, we started running. By our second step, my sister and I were both soaked to the bone.

There is always a great view when writing in a tent... Photo by Zim

There is always a great view when writing in a tent… Photo by Zim

We sprinted into our tent; my sister went straight to one corner while I stood in the opposite. Puddles formed all around us as tried to figure out what just happened. Looking a bit like drowned rats, laughter bubbled up simultaneously – soon filling the tent.

“Just our luck right?!” my sister says once she is able to breathe through the side-aching laughter pains. The second night here in Columbus’ birthplace and we are again stuck in the tent soaked through and through. I reluctantly agreed that it was just our luck. However, unlike the previous night, the rain did not last all night.

As the rain turned from an incessant drum tapping to a pitter patter, I opened the tent’s screen. Instead of seeing storm clouds, my eyes met a large rainbow. The semi-circle of color was entirely visible above the tall trees. It looked like it was only our campsite that could see the whole rainbow unobstructed – as if it was painted in the sky for only our eyes to see.

World's Largest Bats (Vampire Bat on left and Baseball Bat on right)

World’s Largest Bats (Vampire Bat on left and Baseball Bat on right). Photo by Zim

It was not the most vivid rainbows I had ever seen or the most “picture-perfect.” But it was ours. A beacon of light among the jumble. Symbolic of our search for our roots. We may have to “wade” our way through a stream of unrelated people, places, dates and events in order to find that one – that rainbow – that connects us to our past. At the end of which we will not find a pot of gold. No, our prize is more precious. Our reward is a story, a unique tale written for us by our ancestors. A story that has no end. Tomorrow, as we search the local cemeteries, more chapters will emerge as we continue to climb our family tree.

Things I have learned on Day 2:

  1. Always check campground bathroom and shower stalls for critters.
  2. Lizards enjoy crawling around women’s restrooms.
  3. Never eat at Claudia Sanders (Colonel Sanders’ wife) Dining House and ask what they are known for, the answer should be obvious….
  4. It is possible to get lost in a cemetery. Also it is difficult to find anyone in a cemetery to give out proper directions.
  5. My sister’s insistence that Louisville holds the record for “World’s Largest Bat” for two separate bats, turned out to be true. What she failed to clarify was that one happened to be a baseball bat while the other “bat” was of the bloodsucking, vampire type.

History By Zim is TWO!

21 July 2013
Lil' Zim gets in on the celebration!

Lil’ Zim gets in on the celebration!

Today is History By Zim’s second birthday (or anniversary?!)! [Technically, the website was started two years and one month ago but I do not count the first month since I did not do much.]

It has been a great two years in which daily readership has tripled (at least) and total views have skyrocketed to over 1,300,000. This past year has seen many interesting events. Besides being actively credited on many history and non-history websites and blogs, it was also credited in a Los Angeles Times article. I continue to “meet” many great authors and history bloggers, Smithsonian Books even asked me to review one of their books. And recently, History By Zim reached an entirely different platform when “The Dr. Oz Show” aired a clip including a HBZ fact and photo.

History By Zim has thrived because of all of you. Whether you comment, share or even just read the posts, you have helped this site become what it is. You have encouraged me to  keep finding and sharing great content. Whether it is articles on serious topics (such as the Tri-State Tornado of 1925) or even creating new series on Beauty Contests or Bad Inventions, history is about everything and everything in between – I am having such fun unraveling it all here on History By Zim.

So thank you everyone for supporting my little ole’ history website! All your wonderful support has shown me that I’m not the only one who gets excited about random history facts, great quotes and inspirational people of the past! Everyday I wear my history geek badge proudly and, today, I do so again humbled by this milestone.

On a side note, today is also National Ice Cream Day 2013. Coincidence? I think not!

Thank you all!
~ Zim

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History By Zim’s Shop

History By Zim has been quite an exciting ‘ride’…

Zipline Date, 1920s. Photo Credit: The Chive

Zipline Date, 1920s. Photo Credit: The Chive

Seattle World’s Fair 1962. Photo Credit Ralph Crane/LIFE/Vintage Seattle

Seattle World’s Fair 1962. Photo Credit Ralph Crane/LIFE/Vintage Seattle

However, some days have not been as exciting as others…

Two women and a mule at the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: Grand Canyon NPS

Two women and a mule at the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: Grand Canyon NPS

Meeting of the Supreme Command, Allied Expeditionary Forces, London, 1944

19 July 2013
Photo Credit: Imperial War Museums

Photo Credit: Imperial War Museums

Left to right: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, Commander in Chief 1st US Army; Admiral Sir Bertram H Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander in Chief, Expeditionary Force; Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur W Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander, Expeditionary Force; General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Expeditionary Force; General Sir Bernard Montgomery, Commander in Chief, 21st Army Group; Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Allied Air Commander in Chief, Expeditionary Force; and Lieutenant General Walter Bedell-Smith, Chief of Staff to Eisenhower. (February 1, 1944)

See America Thirst, 1930

18 July 2013
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: University of Kentucky/Digital Public Library of America

Movie theater decorated for See America Thirst, which tells the story of two men who become involved in a bootleggers’ war and fall in love with a night club singer, 1930.

Miss Correct Posture, 1950s-1960s

17 July 2013
Contestants (from left) Marianne Baba (third place), Lois Conway and Ruth Swenson pose with trophies and their X-rays. Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

Contestants (from left) Marianne Baba (second place), Lois Conway (Miss Correct Posture) and Ruth Swenson (third place) pose with trophies and their X-rays at the Chicago chiropractors convention, May 1956. Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

Beauty contests were a way for people, places and businesses to celebrate events, highlight pop culture and promote various products or ideas. [Zim’s Note: To see more beauty contests, check out History By Zim’s “Beauty Contest” series]

Chiropractors check a contestant's posture.Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

Chiropractors check a contestant’s posture, May 1956. Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

In the 1950s and 1960s, chiropractors around the country found themselves with a PR problem. In the United States, the chiropractic profession first gained momentum in the late nineteenth century with Daniel David Palmer founding the first practice in Davenport, Iowa around 1895. Two years later, he created the Palmer School of Chiropractic.

However, the profession was still considered “the new kids on the block” in the medical community as Dr. P. Reginald Hug put it. So they decided to utilize beauty contests as a way to legitimize their profession. Through these pageants they hoped to gain credibility with traditional doctors. Additionally, the contest winners would win money or scholarships thus increasing the profession’s popularity with the general public. “Miss Correct Posture” was one of the few titles used in these chiropractic pageants.

Lois Conway stands by her spinal X-ray and reviews a model of the human spine with a chiropractor. Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

Lois Conway stands by her spinal X-ray and reviews a model of the human spine with a chiropractor, May 1946. Photo Credit: Wallace Kirkland/LIFE

In May 1956, a week-long chiropractic convention took place in Chicago – including a beauty contest. Lois Conway, 18, was crowned Miss Correct Posture while Marianne Caba, 16, took second and Ruth Swenson, 26, came in third. According to the Chicago Tribune, the contest winners “were picked not only by their apparent beauty, and their X-rays, but also by their standing posture. Each girl stood on a pair of scales – one foot to each – and the winning trio each registered exactly half their weight on each scale, confirming the correct standing posture.”

From Washington to Connecticut and Salt Lake to Alabama, these contests took place all around the country. Salt Lake’s Deseret News, discussed the pageant in a weekly column and mentioned the judges’ qualifications, “Bad posture, say the experts, is due largely to a lazy or disorderly state of mind and to our soft way of living. The sharp-eyed judge who picks the violets from among the wild morning glories in these beauty bids, has been correcting defects for quite some time.”

Chattanooga, Tennessee hosted the last big pageant in 1969. Dr. Hug remarked that the beauty contests served the intended purpose. “While they [posture contests] had a short lived tenure, these contests increased the public’s awareness of chiropractic during a time of struggle for licensure.” By the start of the 1970s, these pageants ended. “Their time had come and gone,” Dr. Hug concluded.

More photographs of the Chicago chiropractic convention that took place in May 1956. (All photos are by Wallace Kirkland for LIFE)

Scott Hensley, “You Think Beauty is Skin Deep? You’re Not a Chiropractor,” NPR, August 1, 2012.
Les Goates, “Les Go: New Beauty Contest Places Emphasis On Proper Posture,” Deseret News, June 16, 1965.
American Chiropractic Association

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