Pillbox hat a winner

By Alana Christensen on July 31, 2017
The year was 1967 and for former Dingee resident and then 17-year-old Heather Watson (nee McCormick), it was a year that one of her fondest memories happened.

Dressed to the nines in a handmade ensemble, she was crowned Miss Showgirl at the Bendigo Agricultural Show, a moment she remembers as clearly as if it was yesterday.

Having entered on a whim, the then dressmaking student had never expected to walk away the winner.

‘‘When I look back on it now, I always think ‘how exciting!’,’’ the now 67-year old Mrs Watson said.

‘‘I was just a country girl from Bendigo,’’ she said.

Following her win, dressed in her pink silk dress and a handmade pillbox hat decorated with the preserving rings from jars, Mrs Watson was chauffeured by television actor Leonard Teale, known for his role in Homicide,and received a signed photograph of the actor congratulating her on her win.

Looking back now, Mrs Watson said she thinks she can pinpoint the one thing that set her apart from the crowd.

‘‘I honestly think it was making my own hat, because I had a pillbox hat and it was pleated all the way around,’’ she said.

‘‘They couldn’t get over that I’d used recycled preserving rings (to decorate it). I think that might have put the crunch on it, it was very successful.’’

As with each year the competition was held, successful winners from across the state travelled to Melbourne to compete at the Royal Melbourne Show’s Miss Showgirl competition.

Flanked by family members including her grandmother and uncle, Mrs Watson took the stage with dozens of other successful Miss Showgirls to compete for the state competition.

‘‘I was very shy and quiet,’’ she said.

‘‘I got down there and there was probably 80 or 100 girls to compete against — it was my first trip down to anything quite like that.’’

Describing the trip as an ‘‘eye opener’’, Mrs Watson experienced not only the competition but the grandeur associated with it at a large dinner hosted for all the entrants.

Ultimately, Mrs Watson said it was a treasured memory of a younger time when Miss Showgirls were dressed to the nines complete with gloves and hats, and one she has continued to reflect on 50 years later.
By Alana Christensen on July 31, 2017

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