Bert Parks was in his prime, lisp-singing "Here she is, Miss America!". All Pinetown was gathered around the Bankes television, with several young boys especially attentive to the 'swimsuit'  competition.  Females in form-fitting attire sashayed across the stage in Atlantic City to their final twirl, all wore smiles and, for the swimsuit competition, a Jantzen.


As each hopeful contestant made her way in front of the camera, MC Parks intoned a brief biography of her home town, career aspirations and, finally, recited the vital statistics for each, instantly compared by viewers to a 'perfect' 36" bust, 24" waist and 36" hips. More generously-sized bust lines were applauded while larger waists and hips were often booed and as the show progressed, comparisons were inevitably made between the contestants and local females.


At one point, the challenge, "How big is your butt, Tess?" rang out following a somewhat larger than optimal hip-statistic 'reveal' on-screen. Tess primped her hair a bit and snorted, I'm a 36!", followed by a volley of disbelieving laughter from her in-house audience. In those days, Tess Bankes would have dressed out about 250 pounds and would never have been considered svelte. The unasked inquiry, "How do you figure?" hung heavily in the air.


Tess went on. "When I had the new indoor bathroom installed, I measured for a shower curtain and the opening was 40 inches wide. When I go in to take a shower, there's about 2 inches left on each side. That a 36, ain't it ? "  

2016 Will Eberle