It has recently been bought to my attention that the information I relayed about ‘Miss Kiwanis’ in ‘Meet the hula girl who will make you purr’ is categorically incorrect!! Unfortunately the information I was given that actress Carole Landis was the inspiration turned out to be unfounded and as such I owe a lot of apologies, to you all and to the family of the real ‘Miss Kiwanis’ but of course mostly to Laura Dow née Charewicz the real inspiration for ‘Miss Kiwanis’, and when you see the picture the art work came from you will have no doubt yourself that she truly is!
Laura’s son Robert left a comment on the previous article about this B-24 and has kindly shared photos of items in his mum’s scrapbook, the original photograph and newspaper articles from the 40’s.
In 1943, Laura entered the annual popularity contest in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1943 to be crowned ‘Miss Kiwanis’, not only did she enter but she won with an impressive 204,247 votes! The Kiwanis club charity circus held in Memorial Stadium over a four-day period also offered £750 in war bonds along with the kudos of being crowned ‘Miss Kiwanis’. At the time of the competition Laura was employed in the office of the Cross Coal Company and was engaged to her own dashing young man, Corporal Harry Lee Dow who was in foreign service in the U.S Army Air Force.
A year later, Laura’s fiance Harry was stationed in the Pacific Area with the heavy bombing group ‘Jolly Roger’ of the Fifth Air Force and was allowed the honour, with the permission of his superiors, of naming one of their B-24’s after his lovely fiance Laura and her competition win. It may be an annual competition but Laura will in a sense forever be crowned thanks to the life-sized immortilisation on the aircraft.
As you can see from the photographs the only difference between the original and the artists representation is the direction Laura is facing though on the other side of the plane you see her facing the original direction.
Laura is now 95 years old, having unfortunately suffered a few strokes a few months ago she now resides in a rehabilitation facility. I hope that the beautiful Laura and her family will accept my apology for the misinformation and my gratitude for allowing me to use pictures of her scrap-book.
Laura Dow I salute you, how amazing to be immortalised in paint on an amazing aircraft for all to see (if only in photographs) for many generations to come.