Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jackie Mayer's Reign as Miss America Ends – September 1963

Courtesy Sandusky Register
Everyone in Northern Ohio has heard of Jackie Mayer (at left), the Sandusky native who grew up to become Miss America 1963. It's hard not to think of her every time you travel on the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" (Route 2) in Erie County.

Her post-pageant life and career is well-known as well. In 1970, she suffered a stroke at the age of 28, and spent the next seven years in rehabilitation, relearning how to walk and do simple tasks. After her recovery, she later became a successful spokesperson and is still a much sought-after motivational and inspirational speaker.

The big 50th Anniversary of her selection as Miss America took place back in November 2012. At the time, the Sandusky Register covered it with a great interview.

In the meantime, below is an article that ran in the Journal on September 6, 1963 – 51 years ago this month – as Jackie's reign as Miss America was winding down. It's a nice look at what she was thinking after spending an exciting and fulfilling year as Miss America.
Jackie Sad To See Reign End
ATLANTIC CITY, N. J. (AP) "It's quite sad to see it come to an end."
Thus spoke Jacqueline Jeanne (Jackie) Mayer, the reigning Miss America who will relinquish her title about midnight Saturday to one of 52 girls who has been vying in beauty and talent competition for the past two days.
“It’s been a marvelous experience,” Jackie said as she recalled the past year which saw her travel over 200,000 air miles throughout the United States and England. "I just hope that girl I crown will have as wonderful a time as I had."
Courtesy Ohio History Connection
The 21-year-old brown-haired beauty from Sandusky, Ohio who plans to return to her studies at Northwestern University, spoke as she watched the contestants of this year's contest rehearsing their roles Thursday.
"It's very nostalgic to be here she said. "I'm very envious of them. I would like to go through the whole thing again.
"It's been a busy year. Sometimes we would make five to seven personal appearances a week but I've learned a great deal.
"Coming in contact with the outside world and the people in its has given me an education I couldn't get in a year's time at school,” Jackie said. "I've also made so many wonderful friends. It will be very sad not to see them again."
The reigning beauty will return to Northwestern as a sophomore and will major in radio and television. She had completed one year at the school before being crowned.
"I don't think I will have much trouble getting back into the swing of things at college,” Jackie said. "Maybe the first month will be awkward. Perhaps some of the students will stare at me, but they will learn to accept me.
"I know I want an education and will study very hard for it,” she said. "A woman must have an education these days."

From the Lorain Journal of September 7, 1963
By the way, I was a little confused during my research for this post when I read that Route 2 in Erie County was only officially named the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" in August 2002. I remembered "Jackie Mayer" signs many years before that – going back to the 1960s.

A little online research revealed that the shorter name "Jackie Mayer Highway" did indeed precede the current highway designation, dating back to the early 1960s. Jackie Mayer herself cut the ribbon in a ceremony opening the new Route 2 bypass from Huron through Rt. 250 on November 2, 1962.

 Miss America 1963 Jackie Mayer cuts the ribbon
opening the "Jackie Mayer Highway." The man 

whose face is adjacent to Jackie's in the photo is
Ohio Governor Michael DiSalle.

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