Decades of Miss Subways smiled on NYC straphangers

Associated Press Published: October 12, 2012
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"I'm basically very shy. ... I didn't know I would be representing Miss Subways at various functions, speaking at kickoff events, addressing school groups," the 65-year-old Hocker said in a telephone interview from Gresham, Ore., where she now lives.

She wanted to be Miss Subways because she "wanted to be discovered. I wanted to do commercials and be an actress," Hocker said.

She married an American diplomat in 1981 and lived for a time in Colombia and New Zealand. She put her talents to use, singing at embassy functions and coaching American children in drama. For the past 11 years, she's been a DJ at Jazz Radio KMHD in Portland.

For the first 22 years, winners were selected by the John Robert Powers modeling agency and the New York Subways Advertising Company. Afterward, it became a more democratic contest, with straphangers voting via postcard for their favorite finalist.

Changing times including the women's movement, the city's fiscal crisis and rampant graffiti in the transit system brought an end to the contest.

Only 17 when she won, Sturm's poster said she wanted to pursue an acting career and devote all her spare time to acting, singing and speech lessons.

"For a while I was known as the national anthem singer," the 71-year-old said. In the 1980s Sturm sang The Star-Spangled Banner for the Knicks and Rangers games as one of Madison Square Garden's rotating singers. She also sang at official city functions.

She married and had two sons. Her retro 1950s-themed restaurant opened in 1987, featuring singing waiters and 70 Miss Subways posters. She also stages Miss Subways reunions at the diner.

Roaldsen, 67, a 1968 winner, is coming to the next one Nov. 13 for the book's launch party.

She was 23 and working as a secretary at Downstate Medical Center when she won. On weekends, she greeted VIPs and celebrities at the Diamond Club at Shea Stadium.

As Miss Subways she represented New York. Among the perks was attending Richard Nixon's inauguration and going to the premier of "Finian's Rainbow" at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where she briefly met Fred Astaire.

She married and continued to travel, her passion. In her 40s she launched a new career as an attorney for the New York State Appellate Court.

It wasn't a real beauty contest, said Hocker. "It was about a well-groomed young woman who in addition to wanting to be a wife and mom, had aspirations to do something to contribute to the community at large."

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