Facebook Twitter



True beauty never fades.

And for the first Days of '47 royalty - crowned in 1943 and now in their 60s and 70s - the pageant magic never dies.The four Salt Lake women will ride in their first Days of '47 parade today.

Complete with throne and ladies in waiting, they promenaded down the Capitol steps in a coronation ceremony as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang on July 19, 1943. However, because of war gas rations, there was no parade that year.

Fifty years later, queen Pat Pixton Barker's daughter suggested to the 1993 Days of '47 committee that the 1943 royalty ride with the 1993 royalty, as part of the parade's "Golden Celebration."

The parade, which has been an annual tradition since Mormon pioneers organized it in 1849, existed before the official Days of '47 committee was formed. The moniker "Covered Wagon Days" came into being as the years passed, and by 1930, the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce had taken charge of the celebration.

But it wasn't until 1943 that the "Days of '47" became the theme for a variety of events that have grown to include many segments of the community.

Now Barker, first attendant Marva Collett Workman, second attendant Cleone Pixton Parker and princess Marilyn Cullimore Smith - with graying hair and married names - will stand together as royalty after 50 years of watching the celebration grow.

"It's amazing we're all still living," Parker said.

They reunited on May 22, the night of the 1993 Days of '47 pageant, sharing memories of the 1943 pageant in the Lafayette Ballroom of the Hotel Utah - now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building - and a half-century worth of stories about marriage and family.

Barker, Parker and Workman discovered they were cousins after they were selected.

When they were crowned in 1943, each of the four royalty had a husband-to-be fighting in World War II. Each woman has a small scrapbook or collection of pageant memorabilia and war news.

Barker displayed a menu she saved from a hotel where the royalty were honored. Dinner plates were $1.15.

"It was a different world then," she said. Barker moved to New York shortly after marriage. Her mother had cut her dress into a negligee for her wedding. Barker now lives in Salt Lake City.

Parker lost her pageant dress to a flood in Turkey, where her husband was working for the International Atomic Energy Agency. She lived in Idaho Falls but recently was called to an LDS genealogical mission in Salt Lake City.

Workman's dress was ruined by leg paint (also used in the 1943 pageant to make up for the war shortage of nylon) in an LDS stake musical production where she dressed as a dancehall girl and performed a cabaret act.

Months before the performance, she gave birth to her first child. Now Workman is a great-grandmother. As a temple worker at the Jordan River Temple, she often crossed paths with Smith, who also worked at the temple.

Smith, referred to as "little squirt" by the other 1943 royalty, donated her dress to Deseret Industries. At age 15, she was young compared to the college-age royalty. Smith has 18 grandchildren and one on the way.

The four women are "overwhelmed" by the idea of today's parade, and still recall the anxiety of walking down the Capitol steps 50 years ago.

"I could see myself sprawling down the stairs," Workman said.

Barker broke the heel of her shoe on the third step.

The royalty still maintain the energetic glow that won over the judges in 1943.

"Now we're going to have our big thrill," Workman said. "We just hope it doesn't rain on our parade."