I don’t know which side of the gun debate you’re on, but I tend to fall on the side of an American’s right to bear arms. If we outlaw guns, it’s the law-abiding citizens who won’t be able to get them. In fact, I just read that according to current federal law, the gunman at VA Tech shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun, but the state had not properly informed the gun dealer who sold them.
But I digress–gun control is not the point of my blog today. I want to talk about Venus Ramey, age 82, who was Miss America 1944. According to the Associated Press, Ms. Ramey confronted a man on her Kentucky farm last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously stolen farm equipment. Ms. Ramey, using a walker, followed her dog out to the storage unit and found a man, who took off for his car.
She told him to stop; he said he was going. She said, “Oh, no, you won’t.” Ms. Ramey, balancing on her walker, pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun and shot out the man’s tires, then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.
And they said beauty and brains don’t mix. Kudos to Venus Ramey, who is fascinating in many ways. Here’s her bio from the Miss America website:
With a relative who fought in the Revolutionary War, a Grandfather who was a Kentucky State Senator and a father who was a Kentucky State Representative in 1934, it seemed destined that Venus Ramey would develop a passion for public service within the United States political system. In fact, she began this interest at a young age as a page in the Kentucky House or Representatives.
After leaving her home in Kentucky to work for the war effort in the nation’s capital, she entered and won the Miss Washington D. C. title. With her dancing, singing, and comedic talents she became the first redheaded Miss America in 1944. Venus was also the first Miss America to be photographed in color.
Being encouraged into show business because of her new fame, Venus performed in vaudeville included in her pageant duties, but made sure she sold war bonds all along the way across the country. Her war efforts in this area resulted in a Special Citation from the United States Treasury Department.
In her honor her picture was adorned on a B-17 fighter plane, which made 68 sorties over war-torn Germany and never lost a man. The story made the Associated Press.
During her tenure, she also worked with Senator Kaper of Kansas and Congressman Somner of Missouri on publishing their bills to get suffrage for Washington D.C. in 1945. For the first time, the District was able to vote. The bill was passed in both houses and signed by the president.
Legendary Hollywood producer Milton Sperling of Warner Brothers Studio sought to sign Venus for a major Hollywood film in 1947, but disgusted with show business, she returned home to her Kentucky tobacco farm (which she has maintained for over fifty years). Venus married, and began raising her two sons.
With Kentucky educational issues and a burning desire to see the word “illegitimate” eradicated from the birth certificates of innocent children among two of her issues, Venus ran for a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Thus making Venus the first Miss America to run for public office. Later, she hosted her own radio show and published her own political newspaper.
In the 1970s, Venus received an Ohio real estate license to save a Cincinnati District called Over-The-Rhine, a four square mile area full of 19th Century Germanic and Italianade buildings. Her valiant efforts resulted in a full-page story in the Cincinnati Post, and subsequently led to a bid for a seat on the Cincinnati City Council.
She lost the election, but won the war. Over-The-Rhine was eventually listed on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places, the largest group of buildings on their list in the U.S. A poster “Venus Ramey for Council” still proudly hangs on the wall of Cincinnati’s famous Stadium Club to this day.