News

‘Queen of the Ball’ relives 1948 honor after find

Forget Truman and Dewey, 63-yearold ‘ballot boxes’ discovered in gym
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


Roberta (Henry) Pounders holds ‘gold-collared’ queen’s train and displays Mason jar ‘ballot boxes’ from the 1948 Rockdale High School Halloween Ball. She was elected Halloween Queen that year by pennies dropped into the jars. The artifacts had been stored for 63 years and were found last week. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Roberta (Henry) Pounders holds ‘gold-collared’ queen’s train and displays Mason jar ‘ballot boxes’ from the 1948 Rockdale High School Halloween Ball. She was elected Halloween Queen that year by pennies dropped into the jars. The artifacts had been stored for 63 years and were found last week. Reporter/Mike Brown Workers air conditioning the 75-year-old Rockdale Elementary gym stumbled onto yet another piece of town history last week when they uncovered “ ballot boxes” from a 1948 election.

Truman and Dewey? Not quite, but it was a contest that’s still fondly remembered by a longtime Rockdale resident.

Roberta (Henry) Pounders was elected 1948 RHS Halloween Carnival Queen. Her “coronation” was the night of Oct. 30 at the carnival, held in that very gym.

Thomas Dansby, general contractor, stumbled across a dustcovered box in a virtually hidden room above the gym stage, a companion room to one in which long forgotten athletic equipment was discovered several weeks previously. (Reporter, July 21.)


On Oct. 30, 1948, in the same gym that’s being renovated this summer, Rockdale High School’s Halloween Carnival queen and king, Roberta Henry and James Caffey, posed for this photo. She’s wearing the same train that stayed in a box at the gym for 63 years until re-discovered last week. 
Photo courtesy Roberta (Henry) Pounders On Oct. 30, 1948, in the same gym that’s being renovated this summer, Rockdale High School’s Halloween Carnival queen and king, Roberta Henry and James Caffey, posed for this photo. She’s wearing the same train that stayed in a box at the gym for 63 years until re-discovered last week. Photo courtesy Roberta (Henry) Pounders “I opened it up and there were old jars with the names of some girls taped onto them,” he said. “A nd there was another box which had a long cape kind of a thing with a gold foil-covered collar.”

It was the queen’s “train,” the one worn by Roberta Henry 63 years ago.

CANDIDATES—In addition to Henry, names on the jars were Wray Stallworth, Kittie Joyce Williams, Mary Wanda Whitworth, Bobbie Jean Curlee and Juanita Gest.

But Dansby isn’t from Rockdale, and is part of a much younger generation. He was interested in finding out what the newest discovery was but didn’t know how to proceed.

“I looked up some of the names on the Internet but all I could find is that some of them were deceased,” he said.

That changed when Reporter editor Mike Brown dropped by to take the photo that’s at the top of the front page.

Dansby showed Brown his find. Brown recognized the name and called Mrs. Pounders, who lives a block and a half from the gym.

She came to the gym and brought a scrapbook from her high school years.

PENNIES—“I didn’t know how to react when I heard about what t hey had found,” Mrs. Pounders said. “I guess I got a little emotional.”

“Who would have ever guessed those things would still be there?” she asked. “And, undisturbed after all those years!”

Mrs. Pounders held the “ballot jars” in her hands and reminisced.

“I believe these were placed out in the community, in various places and people voted by dropping pennies in them,” she said. “They might have even had our pictures taped to the jars at one time.”

“I know a lot of the kids from the school voted,” she recalled. “I’m sure that’s why that made it a penny a vote. Back then all we would have had was our lunch money. If we had any change from that it was going to be in pennies.”

She won and got to be “coronated” at the ball.

CROWNS—“That Halloween Ball was a pretty big deal back then,” Mrs. Pounders recalled. “The queen got to choose the king and I picked James Caffey.”

“We were so excited that when they took our photo that night, we somehow put on each other’s crowns. You can look at it and see the crown James is wearing is a couple of sizes too small!”

But the train was the glamorous touch for a small-town girl.

“It stretched out behind me and we had a couple of small children as ‘ train bearers’ to pick it up and follow me, like you see in those royal weddings,” she said.

“My train bearers were Mary Richards and Graham Kyle Jr.,” she recalled. “Except I seem to remember when it came time for the ‘coronation’ one of them got a little scared by the crowd, and all the commotion and wouldn’t do it.”

PAGEANTRY—Mrs. Pounders was on the money in recalling how large an event the Halloween carnival was.

The Reporter’s coverage noted the 1948 event was the largest one in school history with 140 persons par ticipating in the “beautiful and dramatic” coronation which featured elaboratelygowned “ladies in waiting,” plus duchesses and flower girls.

Winner of the queen balloting was not announced until 10 minutes before the crowning to build suspense.

After the queen and king were seated on thrones they were entertained by a command performance of 14 folk dancers and six tap dancers.

The rest of the mammoth carnival, featuring games and food, followed the coronation.

MORE VOTES—That was on a Saturday night.

Three days later the people of Rockdale had another little ballot to help decide.

You guessed it. Truman vs. Dewey.


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