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The Loveliest of Mel Long

Great news: Mel Long kept most of the pictures.

You probably would, too. And not just the original of the shot that appeared in the paper. We’re talkin’ the first shot, the second, the third, the however many it took to get it right. Yes, Plainsman photographer in the 1960s was a dirty job, and Mel—Bubba, back in the day—was by God glad to do it. After all, his slide rule wasn’t really helping him score any dates.

“Since I was taking Mechanical Engineering in 1962 I needed all the help I could get when it came to impressing the girls,” says Long, who graduated from Auburn in 1963. “I did not have a car so when I asked a girl for a date she would ask where we were going. I would reply ‘as far as you want to walk.’  She would usually reply, ‘I think I will walk down the hall and wash my hair.'”

So Long got creative. Instead of trying to impress the ladies, he put himself in a position where they would have to try to impress him: Co-Chairman of the 1962 ODK-Glomerata Beauty Ball.

“I met a lot of pretty girls (working on the ball), so I knew all of the girls that I selected for Loveliest of the Plains,” he says. (He also helped land Peter Paul and Mary as the entertainment that year.) “Taking the pictures was a lot of fun and I also dated some of the Loveliests, too.”

Loveliests like Nancy Mixon — “she has a good seat” — who appeared in the Oct. 3, 1962 issue of The Plainsman:

Nancy Mixon 11_26_62 Nancy Mixon11_26_62 Nancy Mixon11_26_62 1 Nancy Mixon 11_26_62 1

… and like Douglass Wingo, who appeared in the Oct. 18, 1962 issue, and who isn’t a boy:

Douglass Wingo 10_18 62 Douglass Wingo 10_18 62 1 Douglass Wingo 10_18_62

… and like sophomore Janet Miles, who was so shy about her photo shoot she had to be restrained by Jim Haggard. The shot that eventually made the Sept. 15, 1962 issue of the Plainsman was of her studying by candlelight “just like Abe Lincoln.”

“It just occurred to me that many of the girls I dated sure did study a lot,” Long recalls.  “But taking a picture by candle light did get the lights out!”

Janet Miles 9_15_62 Janet Miles 9_15_62 #2-1

Perky Alice Chandler was a freshman from Cullman majoring in Art and Design and living in Auburn Hall.

Alice Chandler 2_16_62 1 Alice Chandler 1962-2

Emalyn Leathers was not only pleasant to talk to on the phone, she was pleasant to look at holding the phone. And the chair. And the piano.

Emalyn Leathers 11_14_62 Emalyn Leathers 11_14_62 1 Emalyn Leathers 1962-2

The photo of Ann Fogg in the Sept. 28, 1960 issue is kinda meta or something. Those are Auburn ID cards she’s holding, but the photos behind her? Enlargements of previous Loveliests, including one our favorites, Bettie Page Sylvia Brown… the first Loveliest to kinda sorta repeat?

Anne Fogg 9_10_61

Speaking of our favorites, Mel gave us another view of Judy Watkins’ Beat Bama baggage as it appeared on Nov. 30, 1962. (Still waiting on some originals of Mean Jean Bodine).

Judy Watlins 2-1 Judy Watkins 11_30_62 1

Jody Tyus, a rare GDI, was the Loveliest of the Plains for the Nov. 9, 1962 issue, and she looks studious. Good thing Mel had her on firetruck ’cause I bet sparks were flying.

Jody Tyus 11_9_62 Jody Tyus 11_9_62 1

It was an Easter outfit for May 2, 1962 Loveliest Shirley Saunders. (A LOT CAN CHANGE IN NINE YEARS.)

Shirley Saunders 5_2_62-2 Shirley Saunders 5_2_62 1

April 25, 1962: “Loveliest Patti Hackett is saying ‘I bet you didn’t know that I was sitting on a GAZEBO.’ What is a GAZEBO anyway?” Hoping this was some hilarious 1962 double entendre. Otherwise, not the Plainsman’s strongest caption.

Patti Hackett 4_25_62 1 Patti Hackett 4_25_62 - 3

Another Patti Mel-t—this time (May 9, 1962) cute Patti Pritchett.

Patti Pritchett 5_9_62

Not sure what was up with the B on the hat on Diane Webb’s—Braves? Beauty? Baseball? They all kind of work. March 28, 1963.

Diane Webb 3_28_63

Swimming pool? Bathing suit? There was only rule for the April 11, 1962 issue: Lett Williams do anything she wants.

Lett Williams 4_11_62 Lett Williams 4_11_62 1

Mel went back to the well, as it were, for the first Loveliest of the 1962 fall semester. Janice McConnell, Opelika.

Screenshot 2014-05-23 13.17.39Janice McConnell 11_26 62

“I remembered that I convinced the Advertising Editor of the 1963 Glomerata to put pictures of The Loveliest of The Plains in the advertising section to entice readers to continue to read the Advertising section.” Behold Oct. 4, 1962 Loveliest Marianne Penton. You’re welcome, Alagasco!

Marianne Penton 2-1

WHOA—WAR EAGLE! Wait… April 1, 1962… dang you, Mel…

“I wish I had taken the Prudence McFridgid picture but that was a promotional picture for the movie The World of Suzy Wong.”

“He’s a struggling American artist who’s down on his luck. She’s a beautiful Chinese prostitute who captures his heart.”

“I got that picture from the old War Eagle Theater on Magnolia Ave.”

Screenshot 2014-05-23 13.34.27

And there you have it—the Loveliests of Mel Long. What a goldmine…

“The only girl I every asked, ‘Would you like to be Loveliest of the Plains?’  that did not accept, I married,” Long says. “We just had our 50th wedding anniversary.

“I did finally take her picture.”

Check out in our growing Loveliest of the Plains archives here.

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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