Dear Bexley Friends,

As I fly across the United States from the North to the South, from the East to the West, I have often had the opportunity to share with others some of the wonderful experiences I have had thus far as “Miss America – 1972.” One of the most memorable occasions will always be my homecoming in Bexley on October 17th. In September, October 17th seemed such a long time to wait before returning home to see my family and friends again. I had no idea what to expect, because I felt the homecoming given me as Miss Ohio was just about as perfect a welcome as anyone could get!

Yet, it did happen… the whole day was full of breathtaking surprises that only the imagination and creative minds of such people as Edie Mae Herrel, “Sis” Bloom, Doris Lubin, Dick Berman, Mary Sue Garlinger, Bill Young and many others could have produced! From the official greeting at the airport with our own Mayor McClure and Columbus’ Mayor Sensenbrenner heading the delegation, to the final Royal Banquet at Capital University, the whole series of events became a fantastic adventure!

I was thrilled with the delicious luncheon given by the State of Ohio in the Governor’s Mansion and the many friends who honored me with their presence. Mrs. John Gilligan was a gracious hostess along with Dr. and Mrs. David Sweet and Dick Neustadt.

The parade was overwhelming! Beautiful floats, beautiful young women, skillful marching units, colorful and talented marching bands, scout troops and my own outstanding float designed by Charles Britt and built by so many, willingly giving of their time and talents…! The thousands of people who came as spectators honored our city and the many Bexleyites who worked so hard to accomplish this feat. My thanks especially to the Bexley Celebrations Association.

Watching my life unfold in front of me as I saw a replica of my favorite backyard spot with my own favorite playhouse in focus, the musical tribute presentation became a most nostalgic, exciting, sensitive, and pleasurable experience. It was almost unbelievable in its exactness of portrayal. At times it seemed quite unreal, almost “dream-like” as I watched long-time friends Dana Warner, Miquet Smith Dresbach, Kathy Stone and others cavort across the stage or stop to sing the beautiful original songs written for me by Doris Lubin and Bill Young.

The beautifully organized reception in the new high school cafeteria after the performance was the perfect postlude to a florious afternoon. How beautiful the school looked! How many wonderful people it took to accomplish this effort! All too soon I was whisked away, leaving behind disappointed countenances which I, too, regretted.

The Royal Banquet in the beautifully decorated dining hall of Capital University was all its name implied – a regal affair serving food fit for a king! The tastefully decorated “throne” was a source of wonderment. “Is that for me? What am I to do?” It soon became evident that the many wonderful friends present, as well as those involved in the previous activities of the day were here to support the scholarship program in my name and the throne was the designated spot to do so. I was overjoyed! What a wonderful thing to do! I am so grateful to each of you who helped make this effort possible and to the various organizations that paid tribute to me in other ways.

Did you know that the scholarship money will be allocated so that both young children and young adults will be the recipients?

How to say “thank you” to the hundreds of people who worked so hard to make this homecoming possible is my present frustration! I would like to write each and every one of you a very personal note, for I know who you are! I have been given lists of the persons who worked in any way with any of the six events (including the beautifully designed program with its notes, sketches and pictures that will be a lifetime treasure).

With the schedule I must maintain to travel thousands of miles each week, I will not be able to write each of you individually. You know who you are and I know who you are and to each of you I would like to say very simply and very humbly “thank you.” Thank you for the honor you’ve paid to me and to your community. Thank you for contributing to the joy of such an occasion. Isn’t it wonderful that our small community can engage the cooperation of so many in such a short time to have the fun of sharing an honor together?

I am so proud of our community and the people here. I owe so much to so many… to my home and my family. …to my school and my teachers. …and to many friends here, and those in Sandusky who encouraged me and worked with me on the state level. Above all, to Bob Zettler, the local pageant director whose faith in me prompted the third try.

Yes, thank you, dear friends for sharing with me the great honor and equally great responsibility of being Miss America!

–Laurie Lea Schaefer

Originally published in The Bexley Bellwether, October 21, 1971

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