Pageant puts seniors in the spotlight


There she is, Ms. Missouri Senior America. Those are the words that three local Jewish women hope to hear when they compete for the title at the 19th annual Ms. Missouri Senior America Pageant Saturday, July 7.

The pageant, which proves beauty has no age limit, will set 11 women, age 60 and over, against each other in four categories. Contestants will first answer questions in a personal interview before the pageant. The three other competitions will include poise in evening gown, philosophy of life and a talent show.

Sarah Kalmes, at the age of 90, will be the oldest competitor this year. As a first-year contestant, she is unsure of her chances of winning.

“I’d like to get honorable mention. I don’t know if I’m going to win,” Kalmes said.

However, her reason for competing is not to win but to share her poetry, which will be her talent.

“I thought it’d be something different. I wanted to just do something in the pageant that would put me in front of the public,” Kalmes said. “Some people have albums full of photos. Well, I have two albums full of poems I’ve written.”

While Kalmes has her poetry, another local Jewish woman has an equally good talent in singing.

Lorraine Schankman, mother of Channel 2 News reporter Paul Schankman, will be singing one of her favorite songs, Second Hand Rose, at the pageant.

“I’ve been singing since I was big enough to open my mouth,” said Schankman, who used to sing with her father. For Schankman, competing in the Ms. Missouri Senior America Pageant gives her an opportunity to do what she loves.

“I’m in it to show off my talent,” she said.

As to whether she thinks she can win, she said, “Why not?”

Like the other two contestants, Helene Siegfried will not only be competing for the first time in the Ms. Senior Pageant, but this will be her first pageant of any kind.

Siegfried’s talent is dancing, a gift she learned off and on since she was a child.

“When I was eight years old, I went to dance classes, but I didn’t want to dance. Then when I was 25, it was my idea to dance, so I took ballet classes,” she said. “It’s great exercise and it’s good relief from the stress of work.”

The winner of the Missouri pageant will compete in the national competition in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov. 5 through 10. As the representative of the senior women of Missouri, the winner will receive $500 for wardrobe for the Las Vegas competition.

Joan Daues, Missouri state pageant director, said contestants from Missouri usually fare well in the national competition. In 1994, Ms. Senior America Pageant crowned a Missouri resident, Deloma Hoffman, from St. Charles.

“We’ve also had a lot of runners-up, some in the top 10,” Daues said.

The 19th annual Ms. Missouri Senior America Pageant will take place Saturday, July 7 at 4 p.m. in the Florissant Civic Center Theater. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 314-921-5678.