Posture queen visited Walla Walla in 1962

Do you know who the Miss Second Alternate 1962 World Queen of Posture is?  The queen flew in to the Walla Walla Airport replete with roses, a trophy, sash and crown.

Comportment. Bearing. Carriage. Stance. Shades of balancing a book on your head.

How we carry ourselves is key to minimizing strain on muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.

The American Chiropractic Association champions good posture to keep body parts in alignment.

Wiki How to do Anything ... adds that “Good posture is important. Not only can it prevent muscle soreness and disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, good posture can increase overall confidence.”

Kathryn Bold, in a 1997 Los Angeles Times article headlined “We’re slouches when it comes to posture,” wrote, that you just don’t hear “Sit up straight” much any more. “And that can damage our professional, personal and physical standing, experts warn.”

From fashion models to teens, many are exhibiting attitude with hunched shoulders, she observed 20 years ago.

“Times have changed since the days when ‘sit up straight’ was every mother’s mantra, when gym teachers taught schoolchildren to walk with chins up and shoulders back. Look around. Americans are bent over like a flock of egrets,” Kathryn wrote

“Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground,” the ACA maintains.

From 1955 to 1969, chiropractors sponsored contests and crowned a winner for having the best posture. The impetus to host such events came because chiropractic had a public relations problem in the 1950s and 1960s according to www.historybyzim.com. The industry hoped beauty contests could legitimize their profession.

The first chiropractic practice was established in about 1895 by Daniel David Palmer in Davenport, Iowa. He started the Palmer School of Chiropractic there in 1897 and it’s still going strong.

A weeklong chiropractic convention in May 1956 in Chicago featured a beauty contest in which Lois Conway, 18, won the Miss Correct Posture crown. Marianne Caba, 16, placed second and Ruth Swenson, 26, came in third.

The Chicago Tribune reported 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.”

Joe Drazan came across U-B negatives in the Whitman College archives depicting a Miss Posture Queen arriving at the Walla Walla Airport in June 1962. He doesn’t have an identification for her and can’t find evidence in newspapers from the time that they were published.

“I note that she is second runner-up so it looks like she is coming back home, so probably is a Walla Walla girl and not a foreign visitor,” Joe said. She could have been sponsored by local chiropractors. Joe and I would like to identify the subjects in these photos.

The last big pageant in 1969 was held in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Dr. P. Reginald Hug said beauty contests served the intended purpose. “While (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, the pageants ended. “Their time had come and gone,” Reginald said.

The archives at Logan University, which offers chiropractic and health sciences education in Chesterfield, Mo., reports the World Posture Contest was developed by Logan alum Dr. Clair O’Dell. He and wife Martha oversaw the pageant during its highest public visibility.

Judging was split in half between correct spinal posture and contestant personality evaluations.

At the height of its popularity, winners visited presidents, interviewed on television shows and were featured in newspapers, Time and Life magazines and other publications.

By the early 1970s, the Logan archives report, the pageants faded away. Data was gathered from the 2002 book “The Most Beautiful Spines In America: The History of the Posture Queens,” by R.J.R. Hynes.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313. 

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,