Mr. and Miss Saginaw

In the year 1958 the annual Mr. and Miss Saginaw Contest was initiated.  It was designed as an honor to be accorded to the young man and young woman who possessed the qualities of character, intelligence, poise, personality, and athletic prowess in large measure.

1968 Mr. Saginaw: Top Row (L/R)- Brian Redman, Mike Lindner, Frank Barkan, Paul Sherr, Rick Elion, Mike Holtzman Front Row-Jamie Wilen, Craig Perlowin, Marc Rosen, Gary Faigen
1968 Mr. Saginaw Contestants: Top Row (L/R)- Brian Redman (2nd Runner-Up), Mike Lindner, Frank Barkan, Paul Sherr (The Winner), Rick Elion, Mike Holtzman Front Row-Jamie Wilen, Craig Perlowin, Marc Rosen, Gary Faigen
1973 Contestants
1973 Mr. Saginaw Hippie Group:  Top Row (L/R):  Greg Shinberg, Ira Deming (The Winner), Brad Bernstein, Larry Elfman, Eddie Kardan   Front Row:  Sam Leibovitz, Steve Sachs, Donny Rappaport, Brad Heffler, Larry Abrams

The format includes ten guys and ten gals separately engaged in a wide array of athletic competitions for ranking points.  There was a General Knowledge Test that covered current events, sports and entertainment factoids, and even some academic stuff (see below).  These results were coupled with the judges independent evaluation of each contestant’s original talent presentation.  We were way ahead of our time since it was soon revealed that “Saginaw Has Talent”.

The talent portion could be singing, dancing, stand-up comedy, magic tricks, and even original skits.  This portion of the competition over the years spawned many a creative and memorable entertainment effort.

David Lipstein's folkloric 'Casey at the Bat' springboarded him to the 1964 crown.
David Lipstein’s folkloric ‘Casey at the Bat’ springboarded him to the 1964 crown. 1960 Mr. Saginaw Cal Reichelle got best supporting for his performance in this recreation as part of the Old Mr. Saginaw entertainment.
1968 Laurie Goodman renders
1968 Laurie Goodman renders “Thoroughly Modern Millie”
1968 Miss Saginaw talent awards-Renee Schwartz, Lynn Herson, Lauri Goodman, Cydi Pynchon, and Suzi Wolfson
1968 Miss Saginaw talent awards-Renee Schwartz, Lynn Herson, Lauri Goodman, Cydi Pynchon, and Suzi Wolfson

(Click to see how you would fair on the 1968 Mr. Saginaw General Knowledge Test)

Once the field was winnowed down to the five finalists from each side there was the finale big pageant night in front of the entire camp.  The evening was run by counselors who were Mr. Saginaw winners and it included clever original songs about past winners written to popular tunes of the day.  There were also return performances of memorable Mr. and Miss Saginaw talent blockbusters.

(Click to see and sing along to selections of the 1969 to 1975 Old Mr. and Miss Saginaw songs)

 The stage fright finale for the final five contestants was part of this evening.  Each contestant had to survive a character inquiry that would  ultimately test how fast do they could think on their feet.  The answer to a wild card question would display their intelligence, wit, character, and poise and ultimately determine who would wear the crowns of Mr. and Miss Saginaw that summer.  The entire evening was a pageant extravaganza.

Miss Saginaw Trophy 1959 Susan Kipnis
1959 Miss Saginaw Susan Kipnis got this trophy with a bouquet of gladiolas to commemorate her victory
1966 Jeff Cooper and Carol Herson are crowned
1966 Jeff Cooper and Carol Herson are crowned the winners
1967 Miss Saginaw Ferne Gendason looking resplendent
1967 Miss Saginaw Ferne Gendason looking resplendent
Jeff Cooper 1966..Ferne Gendason 1967...must have been fate...married 1975
Jeff Cooper 1966…..Ferne Gendason 1967…..the Invisible Hand at work…..married 1975
The 1968 Mr. and Miss Saginaw Paul Sherr and Maxine Hofberg
The 1968 Mr. and Miss Saginaw Paul Sherr and Maxine Hofberg
1969 trophy of Stephanie Baer
1969 Miss Saginaw trophy of Steffi Baer
1973 Mr. and Miss Saginaw winners were Ira Deming and Debbie Glaser
1973 Mr. and Miss Saginaw winners were the fashionable Ira Deming and Debbie Glaser
The shiny hardware from 1973....it has held up nicely in air conditioned controlled storage
A closer look at Ira’s 1973 Mr. Saginaw trophy
mr-and-miss-saginaw-uk-year
1980 Mr. and Miss Saginaw Sean Mitchell and Amy Steinberg
2016-mr-and-miss-saginaw
Fast forward to the 2106 winners Ari Shalit and Lauren Fish
2016-miss-saginaw-trophy
2016 Miss Saginaw Lauren Fish’s trophy has some real sizzle!

(Click to see the list of Mr. and Miss Saginaw winners from 1958 to 2016)

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9 thoughts on “Mr. and Miss Saginaw

  1. I remember this quite well. I was first runner-up in 1969 and was helped by my talent performance where I played piano and sang a parody about Camp using Fiddler on the Roof songs. Fun memory!

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  2. One Unassuming Girls’ Journey to the Coveted Crown

    When I first saw this blog, I must admit I was a bit taken aback. There, listed was every Mr. Saginaw winner since the beginning of time. The side for Miss Saginaw names was totalły empty with the exception of one name, and it was the wrong one, as the winner in 1969. I had scrolled to that page, thinking there’d be my name, perhaps not in neon but as some lasting recognition in the annals of Saginaw history. The correction has since been made (thanks Moe) and I’m now in good company. However, while disappointing, it also seemed somehow fitting to see this disparity in names emphasizing the gap that actually existed between the genders at camp. Girls camp certainly wasn’t ignored but we were clearly, merely the counterparts to boys camp, to The Hill. Old traditions die hard, both in society in general and at camp specifically. Feminist notions were just starting to take on steam. I hear even Herbie came to acknowledge girls camp more toward the end of his reign. I enjoyed Herb but couldn’t believe what we had to go through the time we just needed to acquire an adequate volleyball from him. I did love how he demonstrated to all, that boys and men could love and touch each other without it putting their masculinity or sexual preference in question.

    So here’s the irony: That at the same time as being a typically sexist institution, Saginaw was indeed helping girls in very real ways to become confident, loving, empowered and competitive young women (Connie and Danny deserve a shout out here). There were few organized sports for girls at the time and PE was hardly an empowering experience – how empowered can one feel when wearing blue jumpsuit shorts that looked like prison garb? But at camp we learned that we could compete with other girls (and not just in terms of attracting the boys – ok, that was part of it but not the biggest by any means) while still loving and respecting each other. Our bunk mates became our mirrors. We learned about ourselves by how we were in these groups, how we felt and how we were regarded. We learned that the more we came to like and believe in ourselves, the more we could accept and appreciate other girls. I, for one, loved not having to put up with the mean, catty, scared behavior so often displayed by other young teens. Those behaviors still happened at camp but they clearly were not rewarded.

    In 1969 when I was 13, I was finally a Senior Girl and had the honor of being voted to participate in the contest of all contests. The lore around potentially becoming Miss Saginaw was electric. The coolest older girls participated in this one, not the likes of me! I had considered any previous positive recognition coming my way to be a fluke. I was, after all, just a mediocre middle child. But there I was, scared to death and competing against girls, all of whom were older than myself. I had no confidence. What? I’d have to do a performance to show my talent; I had no talent! Ronni was the lead in the shows, not me! What? There’d be a general knowledge test; I didn’t know stuff and besides Ronni was the smart one, too. I’d have to do fancy dives? I didn’t know if Ronni could dive, but I knew I was afraid to dive and had avoided it like the plague. This must all be a cruel joke. I couldn’t do this!

    I guess it’s true that the people and experiences you really need in life just show up. Thank goodness for Sharon Weiss (I made it a point to thank her for this on my 50th birthday, a touchpoint I’d used to thank important people in my life). She seemed to believe in me and was certainly one of the cool ones. She knew stuff even if I didn’t. In some ways it was her confidence in me that carried me through.

    I remember considering dropping out so I wouldn’t have to dive or perform. Instead, for the first time ever but not the last, I decided to walk toward a fear because I was being encouraged to -to dare to be in the lime light. I remember that experience to this day when I entertain avoidance over discomfort. You know, the safety and comfort that comes with settling into who I think I am rather than expanding into who I might become.

    So, my talent offering wasn’t the highlight of the competition and my dives we probably mediocre at best. But, I did it! I got up there! Regardless of the outcome, through taking on the challenge, I’d gained confidence. I exerted my body, and I dared to try hard. I had never tried hard before so I couldn’t fail hard. Suddenly the risk seemed worth it. The paces they put us through weren’t easy. Really? A track meet, swim meet, and tennis serves all in one day? And this was all after leagues and instructional swim! Ultimately, I guess I really was pretty good at these things and most importantly, I showed up for myself. Winning was the unimaginable icing on the cake.

    Then came the final night on the Dell Stage. I remember what I wore since I’d only taken one dress to camp that year not thinking I’d really need one. I didn’t like it but, oh well. I remember hearing the dreaded question being read, the final test to judge our poise in front of the whole camp: “What would you do personally to make a new camper in your bunk feel at home?” I have no idea what I said but I liked the question. The next thing I do remember is hearing my best friend Lynn yell “Oh, my God, Steffi might actually win!” Indeed! I’m glad Sharon had more confidence in me than Lynn did!

    By the way, I just noticed – that’s me in the posted picture with Ira and Debbie being crowned. David and I ran the contest that year. I was holding my trusty clipboard as I did during many a color war. I wanted to be sure the points were being counted accurately and all was fair. 🙂 I’d forgotten that!

    So, the moral of the story is that there are so many, it’s layered. Camp Saginaw, you may not have kept records of our girly accomplishments but we sure did. They counted in the biggest of ways! We were given opportunities to learn to believe in ourselves and our sisters. Am I proud of myself for this accomplishment? You betcha. Was it a fluke? I don’t think so, but at the time I did entertain the notion that my parents paid off Connie to assure a win. I then considered our family’s relative wealth in terms of other campers and realized that if this was how the game was played, we’d come up woefully short.
    Thanks Saginaw for helping us to grow into the women we are today. I for one, am very grateful.

    P.S. I also made amazing guy friends!

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    1. Steph-
      Well done! And to think, all your parents wanted when they sent you to camp, was to get rid of you for the summer. We must have talked about this stuff during our hours long phone calls in the days between camp. Although, I was in Hill 6 in ’69 and I don’t think we got to the feminist agenda until Hill 1. And, although you wouldn’t be my girlfriend (what was I thinking, you were Miss Saginaw!) you and Lynn turned out to be my first girl friends and I’m lucky for that!

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    2. I remember that year you won! Also, since I was Deb’s bunk mate, I vividly remember losing to her for Miss Saginaw. I too was a hostess for Mr. and Miss Saginaw in 1978, I believe with Marc Sandhouse. I have a picture of us doing our opening song, but don’t know how to post it. It was the year Nancy Astor and Kenny Daly won as Mr. and Miss Saginaw.
      Its really amazing, how things like Mr. and Miss Saginaw stick with you. As a freshman at University of Maryland, one of my evening classes, I turned around and there was Stephie Baer. I was too awe struck to go up and say hello. How silly was that! But she was a fantastic athlete and Miss Saginaw and I was…just me. Funny how that all goes. Hope you are doing well…..thanks for the great memory!

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  3. Ok for all of those out there, like me, that lost Miss Saginaw! This song was perfect. Except I can’t remember the first line.
    So I will post what I remember and you guys just fill it in. It was the “Old Top 5” song. We would walk in to: “Where ever we go, whatever we do, we’re gonna go through it together” So here it goes….

    The Old Top 5 – Song for Mr. and Mrs. Saginaw

    Where ever we go, whatever we do – we gonna go through it together….
    ???????????????, on the stage we all had fun,
    In a contest, known across the land, as Miss Saginaw.
    Our figures were a mess, we had to wear a dress.
    Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah
    But we were the old Top 5

    Across the pool and around the track,
    In sportsmanship we lacked.
    They tested personality and we had none.
    Our IQ’s were quite low, our legs were in a bow
    Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah
    But we were old Top 5

    The crowns were quite a strain as they crumpled in the rain,
    The robes were all unfolded and the moths took flight.
    A celebration Camp will make, they’ll even bake a cake
    Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah
    But we were the old top 5

    We sat in those folding chairs, peacefully holding there,
    Wondering which one it would be (it wasn’t me, or me, or me)
    Questions were amazing like: “Would you rather, be or a duck”
    Our answers were chaluscious , the judges were stunned by what we said.

    Now we don’t want to make a fuss, but we think their better than us,
    And selecting the right girl will be quite a task.
    Now we hate to sing and run, but we hope everyone
    Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah
    Remembers the old Top 5 – they call us losers
    We’ll remember the Old Top 5

    Where ever we go whatever we do – we gonna go through it together….

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  4. The first Mr. Saginaw was Harold Levinson. His “talent” was reciting “Casey at the Bat” in a Southern accent. He was from Virginia, so English was a second language. Harold left us in 1997. Take my word for it, he was the best ever. He and I were bunkmates from 1950 in Bunk 2, all the way to counselors in the 1960’s. We remained best friends forever. Jim Korman. Camp Saginaw 1949-1964

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    1. He is missed by a generation of Supes plus a city that loved and respected him. Saginaw was a large part of his life and the friends he made forever! I will show this to his lovely wife, Heidi, who became part of the Saginaw Family thru him!
      Thanks for your comments! (Jimmy Korman SERIOUS! incredible!)Barbara Perlin Lowenstein Fellow Richmonder of Harold”s

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      1. For those of you who may not know, there is a Levinson Heart Hospital in Richmond, with a bronze bust of our boy in the lobby. Not because of any dollar contributions, but to honor one of the pre-eminent heart surgeons ever in that city.

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  5. A few years ago Arthur (the Arthur from “Arthur Dubin to girls lodge fame”) and I had a party at our house. At one point we counted how many Mr. And Miss Saginaw’s were at the party – there was my sister, Ferne Cooper, her husband, Jeff Cooper, my son, Zachary Dubin, Cary Reines, and David Lipstein.
    Honorable mentions went out to myself and Brian Redman who came close but were never crowned.
    Just a note on the list-add Wendy Griner to 1970.
    Lynn Gendason Dubin

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