She’s Got Bette Davis Eyes

Her hair is Harlowe gold
Her lips sweet surprise
Her hands are never cold
She’s got Bette Davis eyes
(from Bette Davis Eyes; Kim Carnes, 1981)

Backstory

Everyone says my mother (Marina Lynch-Staunton) has Bette Davis eyes. Perhaps she used them, back in 1955, to catch the judges’ eyes. That’s when Marina was crowned Queen at the Crow’s Nest Pass Winter Carnival.

The tale of Marina’s crowning achievement has an unlikely beginning.

Picture this: a grassy hillside overlooking the Oldman River. There, a hop, skip and jump east of The Gap—the water gap through which the Oldman River cuts through the Livingstone Range—a farm tractor was used to power a rope tow that pulled skiing enthusiasts from the surrounding ranching community to the top of “Mount Pleasant,” a modest climb from the Oldman’s storied shores.

It was here that the Maycroft Ski Club was born.

On the road to Queen of the Crow’s Nest Pass

Back in the ‘50s, ski clubs and other community organizations nominated candidates to compete regionally for the “royal” title of Queen at the Crow’s Nest Pass Winter Carnival Contest. The winner, then up against other regional winners from western Canada, competed for the ultimate achievement: Queen of the Banff Winter Carnival.

That Marina! She’s got Bette Davis eyes.

That Marina! She’s got Bette Davis eyes. (Poster put up by Maycroft Ski Club, from Marina Lynch-Staunton)

These winter carnivals were a big deal. There were ski races, dinners, dances and other festivities. It was no small honour to become queen at any level.

A 1955 newspaper clipping describes Marina: “Five foot, four inches tall, with platinum blonde hair, brown eyes and a trim figure, her sponsors state that no better choice could be made. Marina excels in all sports, riding, dancing, trap shooting, target shooting, swimming, tennis and skating.”

Marina, chosen as Carnival Queen of the Maycroft Ski Club, went on to compete in the greater Crow’s Nest Pass Carnival competition. There, she faced three other candidates: Miss Beatrice Gejdos of Coleman, sponsored by the Coleman Elks Club; Miss Beverly Kemp of Blairmore, sponsored by the First Blairmore Lions Scout Troop; and Marie Lagrandeur of Pincher Creek, sponsored by the Pincher Creek Community Band.

You know who won.

Marina was crowned at a big Sunday night banquet held at the Greenhill Grill in Blairmore, and she was the guest of honour at her coronation ceremony. There, Marina received a lovely bouquet of flowers from the Maycroft Ski Club, and she got to make the draw allowing the lucky winner to receive a $50 Canada Savings Bond.

The road to Banff

Marina’s big win gave her a coveted ticket to the 1955 Banff Winter Carnival. There, she competed against nine regional winners representing Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere in western Canada. The prize: the privilege of being queen at the following year’s (1956) carnival.

As 1955 came to a close, Marina married Leroy Field (my father). They recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

“But,” you ask, “Who was crowned Queen back at the ’55 Banff Winter Carnival?”

The answer: Miss Yukon, a vibrant brunette in a luxurious fur coat, won the big prize.

Oh well, Marina had a great ride, an exciting, “big-city”experience for a rural ranching girl. And, she enjoyed a week in Banff, where she was treated as a celebrity.

Ten regional queens pose amid competition (1955) to be the 1956 Queen of the Banff Winter Carnival. (Photo Credit: ??)

Ten regional queens pose amid competition (1955) to be the 1956 Queen of the Banff Winter Carnival. (Photo from Marina Lynch-Staunton)

Sidebar

Bette Davis (1908 – 1989), a beauty queen and acclaimed Hollywood icon, in addition to having captivating eyes, threw a few memorable quotes into the wind. Here are three that chronicle her walk through life:

  • I’d luv to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair.
  • The best time I had with Joan Crawford was when I pushed her down the stairs.
  • Old age is no place for sissies.

Written By: Monica Field, Area Manager, Frank Slide Interpretive Centre

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