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Not just another farmer’s daughter

Patsy Miller, seventeen, brown-haired, 5-feet 6 1/2-inches tall, weight 120 pounds, entered and won the title “The Ideal Farmer’s Daughter” contest in 1948 at the National Farm and Garden Show at the Coliseum in Chicago. The contestants were all farm girls selected by various farm supply firms. Patsy was sponsored by Bishop Manufacturing Company of Carlisle, Delevan Manufacturing Company of Des Moines and Alfred Jones of Osceola.

Patsy, along with her parents, James and Leota (Curly) Miller, brother Joe, and sisters Tana (McCann) and Sandra, lived on a farm seven miles northeast of Osceola. Patsy had been a member of the Martha Washington 4-H Club and President of her Junior High School Class and five years earlier had been rated “Clarke County’s Outstanding 4-H Girl.” She worked after school for Alfred Jones at Jones Cafe.

Patsy’s talent in the competition was singing. Patsy wore blue jean shorts, a checked shirt she made and a four-quart farmer’s straw hat purchased in Chicago, all seemingly especially suited to her particular beauty.

Patsy won not only the title but a complete city girl’s clothing outfit which was bought for her by a farm equipment manufacturer. She wore the outfit in the Stevens Hotel in Chicago where she was staying. It was her first wool suit, her first girdle (it came with the outfit although it wasn’t necessary), her first corsage and first high heels.

Patsy was photographed in the lobby of the Stevens Hotel by the Chicago Tribune. Her picture appeared in the Herald American and another Chicago paper along with Des Moines and Osceola papers. She appeared on two radio programs. The enthusiasm evidenced for Patsy’s charm was overwhelming.

Press clippings containing Patsy’s picture and stories came from all over the nation. She received clothes, shoes, purses, necklaces, lingerie, ball point pens, records, sequined skirts, stoles, compacts, beauty shop service, photographs, dinners, luncheons, a coffee maker, table, hot pads, two boxes of soap and a can meat, along with a whirl of radio interviews and marriage proposals.

Patsy had many offers to model clothes for various firms but declined. Stacks of letters, cards and telegrams poured in from nearly every state and Puerto Rico, most of them from high school, college and service men. Warner Brothers Studio, Hollywood, California, offered her a contract to be a stand in for actress Susan Hayward.

Patsy returned home, finished school, and married her farmer, George Morton Nelson, on June 8, 1950. They moved seven miles southeast of Osceola to a farm where they raised their six children: Frank (Gus), Jenny (Jones), Julie, George (Mark), James and Ruth. Patsy was a very well-known and knowledgeable antique dealer along with her sister Tana McCann. Patsy passed away at her home in 2009 at the age of 77.

Among other things that make this a different Farmer’s Daughter story is Patsy said she never met a traveling salesman.

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