At one time, it was a magnet for Memphians trying to beat the heat. The Lauderdales kept their cabin cruiser, The Lady Lauderdale, berthed there, alongside radio/tv pioneer Hoyt Wooten's magnificent yacht, the Elbaroda ("adorable," spelled backwards). In the 1950s and 1960s, the lake — actually a former oxbow of the Mississippi River — was always packed with ski boats, house boats, rowboats, and just about anything that could float.
But it gradually lost its allure, perhaps because of places like Sardis and Pickwick. What's more, expressways (and airplanes) brought the beaches of the Gulf Coast within easier reach. That's just a theory.
McKellar was such an important part of the Memphis community, and our social life, that every year we held a Miss McKellar Lake contest, and the prettiest women in the region would compete. The event was sponsored by the Memphis Park Commission, Memphis Ski Club, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. I'm not sure what the "talent" portion of this competition entailed; I suspect how the contestants looked in a swimsuit was the key element of the judging, since that's all the newspapers ever showed.
Here's an undated photo taken of the finalists, all of them (according to the original newspaper caption) just 16 or 17 years old. From left to right: Lynda Cummings, Micki Slover, Micki Dollar, Rita Raney, and Cynthia Cowgill. Some of those names sound made up, to me. I mean, what are the chances that two different girls named "Micki" would end up as finalists?
I'm a little confused. The newspaper clipping that accompanied this photo has a date of "August 1989" stamped on it, but the photo itself was dated 1964. I'm no expert on women's swimsuits or hairstyles, though of course I know you would certainly assume I would be, but I can't tell WHAT year this is from. What do you think?
And I'm sorry to say that I don't know who won this particular contest. Does anyone remember any of these ladies?
PHOTO COURTESY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LIBRARIES