Here’s What It Took to Be Named the Perfect Mrs. Tacoma Housewife in 1955

Here’s What It Took to Be Named the Perfect Mrs. Tacoma Housewife in 1955

September 6, 2018 0 By Sara Kay

From the ‘you can’t make this stuff up files’ comes a look back at the 1955 Tacoma Home Show, where there was plenty for guests to see at the College of Puget Sound’s field house (now the University of Puget Sound).

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Along with displays featuring the latest in dishwashers and radiant heating options, a contest was held to find the perfect Tacoma Housewife.

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The details of the contest are nearly as hard to digest as this image of a masked model standing next to a cutout of the perfect female profile shape. The sign, happily held by a grinning man, announces they’ll be “sizing up mrs. Tacoma.”

What did it take to earn such a title? A caption accompanying this image at the Tacoma Public Library elaborates:

Contestants had to be between 18 and 35, married, have at least one child and be Pierce County residents for at least 6 months.

They were judged on “housewifely arts” poise, charm and appearance. Finalists were tested on how quickly they could make a bed, how well they could iron a shirt, and the looks and appearance of their best baked goods.

Equally important was how well they had “trained” their husbands, judged by how well the males could change a diaper.

Although contest organizers repeatedly stated that height and weight did not matter, Mrs. Tacoma would also need to parade in a swimsuit and high heels.

The 1955 winner was Mrs. Lowell Doud, the wife of a lumberjack.

The other big Tacoma Home Show attraction in that year was the unveiling of the Master Builders model home, which had been dubbed “Casa Mañana” — the home of tomorrow.

Located in Lakewood, the home was on display March 22-27, during which an estimated 14,500 people toured through.

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The house was a modern three bedroom tri-level designed by Donald Burr and built by Robert Good.

A model demonstrated the pull out, top loading dishwasher in the ultra-modern kitchen for photographers, who also captured the styling and asphalt tile floor of the recreation room.

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Although it’s not entirely clear how long the Mrs. Tacoma contest took place, there were many years of a Miss Tacoma being named at the Home Show. A sampling of photos of the winners offers a peek the Home Show’s occasionally curious pageant history through the years…

1958: 17-year-old Marilyn Ganes, a drum majorette and junior at Franklin Pierce High School, poses with a sack of fake cash.

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1964: Geraldine “Gerry” Gennow is photographed resting on a bar stool carved in the form of a “primitive” sculpture by Gale Haner.

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1969: Dona Wenger jauntily demonstrates the many uses of a powered concrete wheelbarrow.

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1972: Elaine Burt smiles while perched on the back of a llama.

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Images courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room