Harveys Lake History

The Lady of the Lake Contest

Lady of the Lake

Contest winners in 1958 (left-to-right): Judith Price, 3rd Place; Connie S. Artuso, Lady of the Lake; Mary Ann Strilka, 1957 winner; Barbara Vitale, Runner-Up. Far-left is Judy Williams, the 1958 "Little Lady of the Lake."

Little Ladies

Cal McHose, Lake High School Principal 1928

On the evening of Saturday, February 4, 1950, a group of Lake men met at the home of Ben Banks at Harvey’s Lake to organize the Harvey’s Lake Lions Club, Calvin McHose was elected as president and a charter meeting was to be organized by Fred Brokenshire.

Cal McHose (1903-1993) was a Lake legend in his time. Born in Hazleton McHose was principal of Laketon High School from 1927 to 1931, principal of Dallas Borough High from 1933 to 1935, and tax collector for Lake Township from 1952 to 1958 and for the Lake Borough from 1968 to 1985. During the Depression he was a Works Project Administration official from 1935 to 1941.

Sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre Lions Club the Harvey’s Lake Lions Club celebrated its official Lions affiliation at a Charter Night on April 12, 1950, at the Brokenshire Hotel at Warden Place.

Lady of the Lake Winners

DateLady of the LakeLittle Lady
1950 Renee Janoski n/a
1951 Patty Roberts n/a
1952 Agnes McGlynn n/a
1953 Jean Lynn n/a
1954 Karen Jenkins n/a
1955 Jacqueline Wargo n/a
1956 Virginia Lee Hardy Myrna Rae Lisses
1957 Mary Ann Strilka Sharon Lynn Leinthall
1958 Connie Smith Artuso Judy Williams
1959 Irene Hasey Georgine Petroskas
1960 Gladys Dailey Christine Garrity
1961 Georgeen Kingeter Andrea Lavax
1962 Rosemary Stella Carol Pilger
1963 Marianne Grohowski Ann Kitchen
1964 Bonnie Gennetts Ann Doris

From 1950 to 1964 the Harvey’s Lake Lions Club sponsored an annual Lady of the Lake beauty contest. In its first year the local contest was created to choose a Miss Harvey’s Lake to in turn compete in a statewide “Queen of Pennsylvania Lions Clubs” and as a possible entrant to a Lions International competition with entrants from 27 countries.

The 1950 contest was held at Sandy Beach on Labor Day with 5,000 visitors. On the same day at the Picnic Grounds another 8,000 to 10,000 persons attended the 26 th annual picnic and family reunion associated with the councils of the Jr. OUAM of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties. The judges for the 1950 contest were Michael Thoma, a New York City actor-director; Thomas Sherburne, WILK Radio; Charles O’Connell, Times-Leader; and John Stenger III, WBAX Radio. Renee Janoski of Nanticoke was crowned Miss Harvey’s Lake from among 34 young women and 12 finalists. A member of Little Theatre Janoski was attending Wilkes College but would later graduate from Pennsylvania State University and work in the fashion field in New York City. She later became a teacher and then an executive assistant for a major New Jersey corporation.

In 1951 the event was renamed as the Lady of the Lake contest. Patty Roberts, the 18 year old daughter of Rev. and Mrs. George A. Roberts, of Wyoming Methodist Church, was awarded the crown from among 45 entrants. Roberts was entering the Nesbitt Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. The contest was now held at Sunset where it remained through the 1958 season.

In 1952 Agnes McGlynn of Avoca was the winner. The contest had to be delayed to Sunday, September 7, due to unfavorable weather conditions on Labor Day. 6,000 persons attended the beauty pageant. In addition to a merchandise certificate the winner also was awarded an American Airways flight to Pennsylvania’s Bedford Springs Resort.

With temperatures in the low 50’s on Labor Day 1953, only 3,500 spectators attended the contest at Sunset Park when Jean Lynn, of Wilkes-Barre, won the contest. A Larksville nurse, Bernadine Melovitz, took second place, and a Lake-Noxen High student, Margaret Belles, took third. Prizes were gift certificates. With the 1953 weather experience the contest moved to August dates in future years. With better weather in late August 1954, 6,000 spectators saw Karen Jenkins crowned Lady of the Lake.

Little Ladies

Miss Harvey’s Lake Renee Janoski, 1950

There was controversy over the 1954 crown. There were general rules that a contestant had to at least be a county resident. Karen Jenkins was from New York City but was spending the Summer with an aunt and uncle at Warden Place. The Lions Club concluded she qualified for her crown but Jenkins was disqualified by sponsors of the “Queen Anthracite” contest in late August in Wilkes-Barre. Within a short time the county residency requirement was overlooked for the Lake contest.

In late August 1955 Jacqueline Wargo of West Pittston was crowned before an audience of 8,000 by her predecessor Karen Jenkins. A former cheerleader at St. John the Evangelist High School in Pittston Wargo would, within a week, graduate from the Pittston Hospital School of Nursing.

The semi-finals of the contest in mid-August 1956 drew 4,000 people as a field of 31 were narrowed to 13. Virginia Lee Hardy won the contest a week later before a crowd of 5,000. She was a 17 year-old graduate of Kingston High School. In 1956 a new feature of the contest was Little Miss Lady of the Lake. The winner was six -year old Mryna Rae Lisses, daughter of Dr. Aaron Lisses, general chairman of the event.

Little Ladies

Lady of the Lake Mary Ann Strika, 1957

In 1957 20 year-old Mary Ann Strilka, Olyphant, won the Lake contest among 10 finalists. She was also the winner of the area’s 1956 Queen Anthracite contest.

In 1958 Connie Smith Arturo, Sayre, was Lady of the Lake. A student at Miami University where she was Miss University in 1957, she was also the second place winner in the 1957 contest.

In 1959 a Shickshinny High School graduate, Irene Hasay, of Cambra, won the title before a record breaking crowd of 7,000 at Sandy beach, the venue’s new location where it would remain through 1964. For several years at both Sunset Park and Sandy Beach the Stegmaier Band, directed by John Sauer, provided music for the program.

Eighteen year-old Gladys Daily was crowned in 1960 at Sandy Beach before a crowd of 6,000. She was a recent graduate of Lake-Lehman High School. One of the Judge’s was famed middle-weight boxer Rocky Castellani of Luzerne. The master of ceremonies was Richard Williams I, an owner of the Harvey’s Lake Bottling Works.

In 1961 20 year-old Georgeen Kingeter of Wilkes-Barre was the contest winner. A graduate of GAR High School and the Bradford Beauty School, she owned a beauty shop. The 1961 runner-up Rosemary Stella, Plains, was the winner in the mid-August 1962 contest. The 19 year-old was a graduate of Plains High School and hoped to become a model. The second-place winner in 1962 was Marianne Grohowski, a GAR graduate, and the third-place winner was 17 year-old Joanna Siscavage, who was Miss Sandy Beach.

Little Ladies

Little Lady of the Lake contest, August 1958

There were 8 finalists from an initial field of 18 in the 1963 event. Marianne Grohowski, second-place winner in 1962, was awarded first-place in the mid-August 1963 contest which only attracted an audience of 1,000 people. The contest which placed an emphasis on beauty and poise was attracted to the 19 year-old blond with blue eyes in a white bathing suit.

The 15 year Lady of the Lake event came to a close on Sunday, August 13, 1964, when 18 year-old Lake-Lehman graduate Bonnie Gennetta, Loyalville, was crowned. She was the second-place winner of the recent Lake-Lehman May Queen contest and princess in the 1963 Dallas Rotary Fall Fair. Second-place winner was Gloria Wright of Pittston who planned to enter Wilkes College. She was Miss Northeastern Pennsylvania in the Miss Universe contest and Miss Rocky Glen. Third-place was awarded to Alana Matter, a Lake-Lehman graduate attending Bloomsburg University.

On August 6, 1965, the Harvey’s Lake Lions Club announced that the Lady of the Lake contest would not resume in the following article in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader:

Little Ladies

The Lady of the Lake contest was held at Sunset. (August 1958)

Apparent shyness and evident pollution have combined to halt the Lady of the Lake beauty pageant at Harveys Lake after a 15-year run.
Waning enthusiasm for the event was one of the reasons blamed for the decision not to continue the contest, which had been drawing contestants from throughout Wyoming Valley and the Lake region.
A spokesman for the sponsoring Harveys Lake Lions Club sounded the knell for the pageant, citing difficulty in obtaining young women for competition which required them to pose in bathing suits.
Pollution at the Lake was another reason singled out. Contest backers of previous years, expecting scant return from pageant advertising because of adverse publicity resulting from recent contamination of the Lake, were said not enthusiastic about supporting any more beauty events.

In later years the Lion’s Club offered other fund-raising events at the Lake and it still continues its tradition of service to the Lake community.

 

 

 

Revised and Expanded September 2018

Copyright 2006-2008 F. Charles Petrillo