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Area woman looks back on ‘Calling All Girls’ movie contest win

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette offers the next installment in a weekly history series that tells the stories of those who came before us.)

In 1945, 12-year-old Jeanne Holmberg, now Fry, a sixth grade student at St. Joseph’s Elementary School, saw an ad in the Sun-Gazette from “Calling All Girls” magazine, a popular publication at the time for girls 12 to 18 years of age.

The advertisement offered girls a chance to win a trip to New York City to be part of a movie on modeling.

Brozman’s, a local store which specialized in women’s clothing, was the local sponsor of the contest.

Although she can’t recall what prompted her to enter the contest, Jeanne just remembers that she had to answer questions and send a photo of herself to the magazine.

Jeanne still has a clipping from 75 years ago announcing her as the winner.

“It says here, ‘winner of the Calling All Girls Movie Contest conducted by Brozman’s,” she read. “Miss Jeanne Holmberg, of 115 Lycoming St., is pictured at left as she was interviewed by Nancy Pepper, of New York City, for the Calling All Girls Radio Show.”

“The interesting thing was, I was the youngest one who won it,” Jeanne said.

The clipping goes on to explain that Jeanne went to New York and took part in the filming of a fashion movie picture.

“Now, I won the contest. I was the only 12-year-old in the country to win it,” she said.

Jeanne’s dad was in the Army, so she and her mom boarded a train in Philadelphia to make the trip to New York City.

“We had to give our little private compartment up because there was a big celebrity getting on the train,” she recalled with a laugh.

It turned out that Bob Hope had boarded the train.

“We had to give it up to him,” she said. “It was the first time in my life I was ever on a train,” she admitted, so it was all new to her.

“He went out to get a drink of water from the fountain on the train and he held the water glass up and he said, ‘My this tastes great without bourbon in it for a change,'” Jeanne said.

“That just stuck in my mind. I had his autograph in this magazine for so many years. I had made so many moves, so that some place along the line, it got lost,” she added.

Once she arrived in New York City, Jeanne remembers trying on lots of different clothes. She then was part of a movie on modeling that was made while she was there.

“But that night, it was during the Second World War, of course, they were having a big dance on the roof of the Waldorf Astoria, one of the big hotels that used its rood for entertaining,” she said.

“I was too young to go to it, so they sent us, my mother and I, on a private tour through New York City,” Jeanne shared.

For a young girl from a small town in Pennsylvania, it was an exciting time.

“I have a picture of me standing in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” she said.

“I can remember my mom when we going through St. Patrick’s Cathedral, because it was just beyond belief, said, ‘Well this may be the closest I ever get to heaven,” Jeanne remembered.

Jeanne and her mom then left New York to come back to Williamsport because her dad was supposed to be coming home for the weekend on leave before shipping overseas.

So, what did little twelve-year-old Jeanne Holmberg think of the “Big Apple”?

“I fell in love with it then,” Jeanne admitted recently, “I just loved it. I know I loved the lights and everything,”

Jeanne has been back to the city several times since her first visit as a young girl.

“Each time I go, I just love it more,” she added.

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