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Miss Pennsylvania
Written December 8, 2017


I had been Program Director for only a couple of weeks.  I didn't even have an apartment yet; I was still living in a motel on the edge of town.  But my boss at Cable TV-3 in Washington, Pennsylvania, gave me an assignment.  He passed along a press release with the notation that “we should cover some of this.”

He didn't mean that we should televise the whole week, of course.  That would be beyond the means of our local origination channel.  Instead, because the pageant was a big local event, he meant our daily news/talk hour Greater Washington Today ought to include at least some footage of it.

We could shoot a news story with our Rover That was a $1,700 Sony AV-3400 Porta Pak, consisting of a handheld black-and-white camera with zoom lens, built-in microphone, electronic viewfinder, and start/stop trigger, connected to a battery-powered Videocorder that could record for half an hour on a reel of half-inch videotape.

The pageant took place in the Main Concourse of the five-year-old Franklin Mall, free and open to the public.  (This indoor mall would be renamed the Washington Crown Center 25 years later).

I arranged to take the Rover to the first night of the event, Wednesday, March 6, 1974.

I found a ringside seat in the open area in front of the central anchor, Troutman's Department Store, where folding tables had been set up to form a stage.  The activities lasted from 7:00 until 8:00.

Then I packed up the Rover and retired to my room at the Interstate Motel, only 600 yards away on the other side of Franklin Farms Road.

The entrants and hostesses, meanwhile, went to a “Good Luck Party” in the Club House at The Meadows.  I had not been invited.


TV-3 had no equipment capable of cutting and pasting my tape into a polished news story.  My only option was “editing in the camera” by using the trigger to start and stop the recorder.  Everything I taped would go into the final story in the order it was recorded, and I would have to arrange my voice-over narration to match those shots.  As it turned out, I recorded for nearly 14 minutes but didn't use most of it.

Back at the studio the next day, Thursday, I logged the tape.  For that evening's GWT, I decided to use the final three minutes, ending with the selection of Miss Photogenic.  Although those images haven't survived, I do still have my voice-over narration (which appears in red below).  And I have my tape log (the notations in the margin, where “—” marks an edit in the camera).


crowd [on] left

About 200 people were on hand last night at the Franklin Mall for the first event of the 1974 Miss Pennsylvania Pageant:  the swimsuit parade and photogenic judging.

long shot of group

The contestants arrived in Washington only yesterday noon, so this was their first chance to be on the stage, set up in the very center of the mall.

Actually they had already rehearsed on the stage that afternoon, in full view of any shoppers passing by.

center [Miss Charleroi]

Among the 42 young women from all over the state was Miss Charleroi, five-foot-seven Linda Large from that community in eastern Washington County.


back to crowd right

Incidentally, this is the fourth consecutive year that the Franklin Mall has hosted the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant, and 42 is the largest number of young women ever to compete for the award.

Miss United Fund

everyone turns

Mary Beth Becker represents the Central Washington County United Fund.  This 19-year-old comes from McMurray.


The winner of this weekend's pageant will represent Pennsylvania in the Miss USA Pageant in Niagara Falls the second week in May.  That event will be nationally televised by CBS.

And the winner at Niagara Falls goes on to the Miss Universe pageant!


[Miss] Canonsburg

Here's Frank Sweeny, introducing another Washington County beauty, Barbara Moody, Miss Canonsburg.


While Barbara smiled, I suggested that our viewers, who were watching the Thursday evening newscast, might want to attend that night's Presentation Show.  It would be a colorful event with its own special panel of judges.

Tonight from 7 to 8 PM, the contestants will be back at the Franklin Mall again, wearing costumes descriptive of the localities they represent in Pennsylvania.  Judges will select a winner.

However, the Wednesday and Thursday results wouldn't affect the ultimate selection of Miss Pennsylvania.  The real judging was set for Friday and Saturday.



Tomorrow night, there will be two rounds of preliminary judging, followed on Saturday night at seven o'clock by the 1974 Miss Pennsylvania Finals.

zoom out

pan to stage

pan faces

I stopped narrating for half a minute, allowing our viewers to hear the natural sound.

Frank was promoting the upcoming judging, which would also feature appearances by the reigning Miss West Virginia and Miss Maryland and Miss Delaware.  Twelve semi-finalists would be narrowed down to five finalists before Saturday's big moment ... the crowning of Miss Pennsylvania 1974!

pull back
[to Jill Unbewust]


closeup of [Miss] PA

She'll succeed the reigning Miss Pennsylvania, 21-year-old Jill Unbewust from Benton, Pennsylvania.

Miss Unbewust was there in person, wearing her sash and smiling.  On the right is her picture from the Bloomsburg State College yearbook.

Jill will crown her successor about 8 o'clock Saturday night, and then retire.


[photographer turns his]
light on

By the way, the outgoing queen is engaged to be married in August!  We understand Jill's marrying a football coach.  But she confided to Frank Sweeny last night that she's going to have to become a little better informed about football.

[announcing Miss] Photo

Anyway, the main purpose of last night's ceremony was to select a Miss Photogenic.

As one of the professional photographers on hand, I had been handed a ballot.

However, I left mine blank, as I was too busy covering the scene to pick a winner.


She turned out to be 21-year-old Denise Byroade of Johnstown.

laughing [as Frank looks up at her face]

The photographers who voted last night must like tall girls.  Denise stands five-foot-nine and weighs 125 pounds.  And she is, of course, Miss Johnstown.

light on

light off, zoom back
[to general happiness]

Reporting from the 1974 Miss Pennsylvania pageant at the Franklin Mall, this is Tom Thomas for CTV-3.



The crowning of a new Miss Pennsylvania would take place on Saturday.

The winner:  19-year-old Dorisann Gatalski.   Dorisann, whose family called her “Do Do,” was a five-foot-seven Allegheny Airlines flight attendant from Bethel Park.

However, I was not in attendance that evening.  I was a mile and a half away, because that was the Saturday I moved into my new apartment!


As I mentioned, the event I covered at the Franklin Mall was part of the organization that produced the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.

This was more than two decades before “Miss Universe” ended up in the hands of a future President.

There's also a separate set of state pageants that leads to a separate and somewhat more celebrated title, “Miss America.”  A major portion of the judging for Miss America requires entrants to demonstrate a talent, such as singing or ventriloquism. 

During my final months working for Total Communications Systems, I would be part of the TV crew for two such pageants.

In June of 1987, I was in Mansfield to help crown Miss Ohio.  Then in July, I was in Watertown for Miss New York.

These were much bigger productions than my three-minute cable report from the local mall.  We used several cameras on a real stage in an actual theater, and the finals were telecast statewide!  Live!  And in color! 



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