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:
… and like Douglass Wingo, who appeared in the Oct. 18, 1962 issue, and who isn’t a boy:
… 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!”
Perky Alice Chandler was a freshman from Cullman majoring in Art and Design and living in Auburn Hall.
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.
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?
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.
It was an Easter outfit for May 2, 1962 Loveliest Shirley Saunders. (A LOT CAN CHANGE IN NINE YEARS.)
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.
Another Patti Mel-t—this time (May 9, 1962) cute Patti Pritchett.
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.
Swimming pool? Bathing suit? There was only rule for the April 11, 1962 issue: Lett Williams do anything she wants.
Mel went back to the well, as it were, for the first Loveliest of the 1962 fall semester. Janice McConnell, Opelika.
“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!
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.”
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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