MISS NORTH KINGSTOWN|
by Billy-Ace Penguin Baker
Updated and Revised 01 August 2003
The original version of this article appeared in the
Explorers Gazette • Volume 1, Issue 3 • Fall 2001
Acknowledgment: This story would not have been possible without the help of Pat Biscoe who supplied me with all the background information. Pat is the daughter of OAE Harold Bracken and his wife Doris. According to Harold, Doris deserves all the credit for making this story possible in the first place.
On December 31, 1958, cartoonist Roy Crane, creator of the comic strip Buz Sawyer sent Buz on a tour of duty to Antarctica with Air Development Squadron Six (VX-6).
Buz Gets His Orders to VX-6
The cartoonist carefully researched Operation Deep Freeze before starting the episode and the strip was very faithful in portraying Navy life on the Ice. Because of this the strip was very popular with the personnel who were actually on the Ice or who had been to the Ice. However, on March 26, 1959, Crane introduced a Russian mannequin, by the name of Katrinka, into the strip, and that is where the problems began. It seemed that the men of Deep Freeze already had a mannequin and she was not a gift from the Russians.
The idea to take a mannequin to the Ice came to AD1 Harold Bracken of VX-6 in California on a redeployment flight from Antarctica. In October of 1957, Harold, who was known as Harry to his close friends, tried in vain to procure a store dummy, but due to limited time and resources available Harry and other crewmembers were forced to give up their quest and all but forgot about the idea. However, upon returning to homeport in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, Bracken jokingly mentioned the idea and the non-productive search for a mannequin to his wife Doris. Mrs. Bracken thought the idea was too good to die, so she took up the challenge. And after several failures, she decided to ask the local newspaper for a little help. The editor happened to be a guy with a keen sense of humor and he was also an ex-Navy man, so he agreed to help. After making a few phone calls, the editor was able to convince one of the North Kingstown merchants to donate a window mannequin. Just two days prior to deployment, Doris Bracken had a dummy in hand. On the day of departure, the beautiful blonde mannequin was positioned gracefully in the nose turret of a ski-equipped P2V Neptune wearing a bright red bathing suit and a white Miss North Kingstown sash.
The news of Miss North Kingstown preceded her and reporters and photographs at almost every stop on the 14,000-mile trip from Quonset Point to Antarctica met her. Stories about her appeared in newspapers across the United States, Hawaii, New Zealand and newspapers in countries all over the world. She was also featured in Navy Times and Yank magazine. A headline in a Washington newspaper read:
First Girl at South Pole Has a
Soft Smile Eternally Fixed Over
a Set of Delightful Dimensions.
Before departing Christchurch, New Zealand, the shapely young lady with 36-22-35 measurements was fitted with Antarctic Survival gear for the trip to the Ice. However, to uphold her mission in life, she refused to wear her polar clothing. Upon arriving at the South Pole station the curvaceous young blonde was given a place of honor in the station galley as a memorial to those things that the men left behind that meant the most. Even though she endured all the hardships at the Pole along with the men it was apparent that the conditions at the Pole were too harsh for her and she requested to be returned to McMurdo. She later relented and agreed to go back to the Pole for Christmas dinner with the men who she had forsaken. Upon her return to the Pole, her short blonde hair style had been replaced with a coiffeur of long blonde curls and her bathing suit had been exchanged with an elegant sequined stole and a clinging white silk gown fashioned from a parachute. After seeing the look on the faces of the men when she arrived back at the Pole she felt compelled to winter-over with them, so she was presented to the appreciative crew as a most welcome gift.
When Roy Crane drew the mannequin into the Buz Sawyer strip he wrote that the Russians had presented the mannequin to the Americans. Almost immediately Doris Bracken fired off a letter of admonition to Crane.
Not only did she set the story straight, but also she demanded and received an apology from Crane who feigned ignorance to any knowledge of Miss North Kingstown. With all the publicity, it is doubtful that he could have missed the excitement she generated and the fanfare she received while in transit to the Ice. The lovely Miss North Kingstown was on the Ice as early as October 16, 1958, and Katrinka appeared in Buz Sawyer on March
26, 1959. The only plausible explanation would be that Roy drew his comic strip far in advance of its appearance in newspapers.
Roy Crane's Letter To Mrs. Bracken
For her efforts in obtaining the mannequin and her contributions to the morale of the men on the Ice Mrs. Bracken was honored at an all hands assembly and was presented with a letter that appointed her as an honorary Public Information Officer for the squadron.
Captain Slagle's Letter To Mrs. Bracken
Several years later, Miss North Kingstown had become the resident hostess in the South Pole Station Bamboo Room Bar and was going by the name of Rosie. She had a new red wig that reflected her new name and she had been fitted with a black velvet gown fashioned with a décolletage that would certainly have been classified as “daring” anywhere else on earth.
Buz Dryfoose And Miss North Kingstown AKA Rosie
After Miss North Kingstown came the inflatable Judy Dolls, but that was many years later in a different time and a different morality. And that's another story for another day.
The Buz Sawyer Deep Freeze cartoon series ended on 23 April 1959.
Buz Goes Home.