BEACH GIRL: Jill Owen (nee Black), of Goonellabah, who was judged Miss North Coast 1958. Picture: JACKLYN WAGNER
BEACH GIRL: Jill Owen (nee Black), of Goonellabah, who was judged Miss North Coast 1958. Picture: JACKLYN WAGNER

Fond memories for beach babe

By SHAN GOODWIN

shan.goodwin@northernstar.com.au

SUCH was the popularity of beach girl competitions on the Northern Rivers in the 1950s and 1960s that the winner would be recognised in the street.

Hundreds would turn out for the judging of the event in January each year, and all year girls from as far west as Woodenbong would prepare for the competition. There were heats at all major beaches, and then up to 30 contestants in the final.

So it was little wonder that when The Northern Star last Saturday published a 1958 photograph of beach babes, Jill Owen's phone rang hot.

Not only was she Miss North Coast 1958, but she collected a number of other titles over the years.

The Goonellabah woman was in the centre of our photograph of Miss Swimming Pool contestants, and says she remembers the year 'like it was yesterday'.

"I was 21 at the time. I had to attend social functions and eat cream cakes with gloves on ? I was hopeless!" she laughed.

"But it was a magical time. For four weeks over Christmas everyone went to the beach. There were concerts at night, iron man competitions and, of course, the beach girls.

"Cole of California was the brand in swimsuits. They had elasticised backs. The one I had on in this photograph was white satin."

And what was the secret to gorgeous legs?

"Dancing. And we never shaved. We used silky mitts, which was like sandpapering and buffing," Jill said.

These days Jill, 68, spends most of her time with her grandchildren, but still manages to swim every day in her backyard pool.

She also named a few other girls in the photograph ? number seven was Marlene Nippress, number 10 Marie Britt and number five Lynette Newman, all of Lismore.

If you know any of the other girls, please let us know on 6620 0554.



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