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Sheila on Being Miss Senior DC

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

“One day, I was out with my neighbor, picking up lunch before going to play pinochle. We got to talking with this lady in line and after a few minutes, she looks to me and says, “You know what? You would be the perfect kind of person to be in this pageant I was in.” Turns out that she was RC Turner, Miss Senior DC 2008. She gave me her card and asked me to stay in touch.I didn’t give it too much thought at the time. but my neighbor said that I should look into it. I had been involved with a pageant before, but this was back in 1967. When I was 17, I won Miss Congeniality in the Miss D.C. pageant. I just saw the experience as a great opportunity, and a way to get some scholarship money.

“After giving it some more thought, I reached out to RC in October to invite her to play pinochle with me and the other ladies at the recreation center. We had a nice conversation and she kept encouraging me to apply. Eventually I did. It didn’t seem that extreme and unlike other pageants, looks were not the focal point. I liked that personal philosophy and other elements of your personality are much more important to the judges.

One of the funniest things about the pageant for me is that my maiden name is Queen. Would you believe it?

“The experience turned out to be so wonderful, and the pageant allowed me talk about my love for the city. See, I am not just an African-American woman from Ward 5. I feel a deep kinship to all of Washington from Chinatown to the Latin areas to the Catholic areas. My maternal grandfather came here from South Carolina to work on the Washington Monument as a stone mason. My father’s family goes back generations in Anacostia. I had aunts who used to cook at the White House. My cousins worked on the Hill as Assistants to some of the Congresspersons. I grew up on Evarts St. NE and have so many fond memories there, including watching the construction of the Basilica. My life was filled with tales from all corners of this city. My love for all of this city helps me be a good ambassadress as Miss Senior DC. This has really been an incredible opportunity for me, and I would encourage other women to do it, too.

“One of the funniest things about the pageant is that my maiden name is Queen. Would you believe it? As a child, I used to just hate it. When they called roll in school, our teacher always used to call us by our last names first. I was Queen Sheila. I used to be so embarrassed and just wanted her to get through the roll as quickly as possible. Kids don’t want to stand out like that. Now, that I am older, I have grown into the name. I guess you can say that it is okay to be a queen now that I am over 60.”

In addition, to winning Miss Senior DC 2010, Sheila also won best talent and best interview. I asked her about her talent, singing.

“For the pageant, I performed Who Can I Turn to by Anthony Newley, but made famous by Sammy Davis Junior. I first heard that song when I was 12 years old. My Mom took me to the Lowes Palace movie theater down on F St to see The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. When we left, I made her go around the corner to Super Music City on G St, so I could get the LP. I remember bringing it home and just falling in love. Ever since I was 12, I loved that song.”

Then, Sheila was kind enough to sing for me. Hear her perform Who Can I Turn to below.

People’s District will be taking a short break until July 18th. Until then, we share with you some of our favorite stories from the past year.

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12 Comments

  1. Her voice is beautiful.

    Comment by Concepcion — December 29, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  2. Such a beautiful woman and a beautiful story.

    Comment by Ageless — December 29, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

  3. Dear Shelia,

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the Nationals. I enjoyed talking with you and learning about your family. You are a special lady and I hope that we keep in touch. God bless you and your family. Happy New Year. Ms. Senior Idaho 2010

    Comment by Mary Ann M. Taibi — December 30, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  4. Miss SENIOR DC?! Sheila looks so young and vibrant, it could’ve fooled me. Great story!

    Comment by Golden Silence — December 30, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

  5. Great interview. You have an inspiring story. Would love to have lunch one day so we could tell each other our secrets. ha
    Loved the pageant and RC was right on. You are a perfect Ms Senior D.C.

    Comment by Brenda Emery — December 30, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  6. Sheila,

    Even though I was not in the pageant, I felt like I was a part of the Ms. Senior America America Pageant. Everyone was so compassionate and everyone and everything was so beautiful. I enjoyed it so much. Congratulations to you for winning Ms. Senior District of Columbia, the talent and interview segments and moving on the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City.
    I enjoyed everything and everyone. You mention events in your story that I did not know about. Maybe, that is because I am a few years older, and I was not around when you were participating in some of these events. Good Luck in all of your endeavors with your Crown.

    Your Sister

    Comment by Bette Hyater — December 30, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  7. Oh Sheila: You are wonderful. I loved the story and your voice is like an angel. I so enjoyed meeting you and chatting when we did have a few spare moments (which weren’t many, HAHA). I would love to meet you for lunch on one of my trips to the Northern Virginia area. You take care, enjoy your reign as I am certainly doing, and stay in touch….Linda

    Comment by Linda Huntley, Ms. Virginia Senior America 2010 — December 31, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  8. Thanks Shelia for sharing your beautiful story with me. I pray God continues to bless you and your family.
    Happy New Year!
    Ms Senior DC 2009

    Comment by Shirley Rivens Smith — December 31, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  9. I would like info on how to become a contestant.

    Comment by deLores mcmillian — January 24, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  10. i would like to become a contestant for Ms. Senior America.

    Comment by deLores mcmillian — January 24, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  11. Great story on a great lady. The Ms. Senior DC Pageant is currently accepting applications for District women interested in representing her peers. Call the DC Office on Aging @ 202-724-5626 for more information.

    Comment by Darlene Nowlin — February 2, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  12. The experience alone of being in the Ms. Senior District of Colukmbia Pageant is worth more than money can buy! You are first introduced to amazing women and men, some of whom you may have already seen but never imagined the kinds of contributions to the future they make! Please consider entering and taking your rightful place in the kives of many! Love, Sheila Poole, Ms. Senior DC 2010

    Comment by SHEILA POOLE — February 3, 2011 @ 9:54 am

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