Photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries
McKellar Lake hasn’t gone away, but most of its visitors have, and that’s a shame. At one time, this downtown lake — actually a closed-off oxbow of the Mississippi River — was the place to go on hot summer days, with its clean water and sandy beaches.
But as industries moved onto Presidents Island (which formed the western boundary of the lake), anyone looking for a place to swim, boat, picnic, or sunbathe drove a bit farther away, to the considerably more secluded resorts at Sardis, Enid, Arkabutla, and Grenada in Mississippi.
But years ago, McKellar Lake was the place to go, and it was so popular that every year, women from around the area competed in the Miss McKellar Lake Pageant. I’m not entirely sure what the competition involved, exactly — other than looking very nice in a swimsuit — but it was considered quite an honor to win the crown. Or the sash. Or whatever it was you wore during your reign.
This photo, staged by the Memphis Press-Scimitar photographers, shows the women vying for the 1974 title. Perhaps you know some of them?
From left to right: Tommy Hooker, Tori Petty, Elaine Henderson, Paige Petty, Donna Hodges, Susan Harris, Diane Long, Pam Parrish, Margaretta O’Neil, Cheri Phelps, Barbara Clemons, and Judy Joe.
I know you expect me to tell you the name of the 1974 winner, but I don’t know it. The newspaper clippings had this photo, and a few others, but no mention of a winner being crowned. Perhaps it’s just as well.