Marine Corps Logistics Base, Calif. --
“Amid screams of joy and tears of happiness … the crown of Miss Barstow 1974 will be placed atop one lovely head, heralding the beginning of another reign of another queen,” reads an article in a 1974 special edition of Barstow’s Desert Dispatch.
The same beauty queen mentioned above continues to thrive here in Barstow more than 30 years later. In fact, perhaps you’ve seen her here on Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow Calif., where she’s been working for more than 20 years.
She is a past honored queen of Job’s Daughters, past DeMolay sweetheart, and enjoys outdoor sports and cooking; her name is Monica Patterson-Sims, a purchasing agent on base.
Patterson-Sims moved here at a young age from San Francisco in 1961, after her father was hired as a welder on the Yermo Annex of the base, explained Patterson-Sims.
Being a part of girl’s youth foundations such as Job’s Daughters as an adolescent gave Patterson-Sims the tools she needed to become the next Miss Barstow.
“I learned how to calm my nerves under pressure,” explained the Barstow native. “It helped a lot when it came to poise walking down the runway.”
Although the youth organizations gave Patterson-Sims the confidence and form to compete in beauty pageants, she did not expect to ever compete, let alone win.
“I first heard about the pageant from my mom. She told me that I should do it and pointed out the scholarship opportunity for the winner,” she explained.
At the time, Patterson-Sims was a box girl at a local grocery store. It was rare in the 1970’s for young women to have jobs, she explained. Reluctant at first, the John F. Kennedy High School graduate decided to accept the challenge.
“I was 18 and a freshman at Barstow Community College when I decided to compete. I was working toward my associate degree and planned on becoming a court reporter or a legal secretary,” Patterson-Sims said. “I decided the scholarship money would be worth it.”
The first step in this challenge was for Patterson-Sims to find a sponsor for purchasing items like a swimsuit and evening gown to wear during the beauty pageant. A local drug store stepped up to the plate alongside the young woman and represented her.
The process was pretty simple, she added.
“I walked in the store and asked for a sponsorship, the manager asked if I was going to win and I responded with, ‘of course I will.’ It was said and done after that,” she said.
On February 16, 1974, Monica Patterson-Sims, along with 12 other young women, were judged on everything from their figure in a bathing suit to how they responded to a random current event topic in front of an audience.
The hardest part was overcoming the nerves Patterson-Sims explained. “A lot of my friends were in the audience and it made speaking publicly a little difficult.”
“The order we went out on stage was by height,” said the petite brunette. “I was the shortest one and had to go first.”
Patterson-Sims recalled the master of ceremonies asking her how she felt about women’s liberation in front of the audience. As a working young lady herself, she laughed and responded, “I knew you were going to ask that.” She then explained that women should be recognized for doing a job well-done just as males are.
“Women’s liberation was a huge deal in the 1960’s and 1970’s … having a job that was male dominant made me feel very strong about equal rights and gratitude,” Patterson-Sims said. “I feel the same way today.”
After being judged on her figure, her appearance in a formal gown, her walk and poise, her smile, her voice control, her stage presence, her interview response, and her overall beauty, Patterson-Sims became the 35th Miss Barstow.
“I really didn’t think I was going to win,” she said.
Patterson-Sims cried with joy, then regained composure when the crown was placed atop her head, stated an article covering the event. The misty-eyed queen received a dozen roses and a standing ovation from the Barstow Community Center’s crowd as she began her reign as Miss Barstow 1974.
As Miss Barstow, Patterson-Sims was given many lucrative opportunities. She represented the city in the Orange County show beauty pageant and in Miss California, and was even promoted to cashier in her job upon winning, explained the beauty queen.
“I had a lot of fun at Miss California. I built friendships with many of the other girls around the state, and it was a great opportunity for networking,” Patterson-Sims said. “I also met a lot of prominent people at the time, such as Bob Hope, Michael Landon and Joanne Worley.”
When in Barstow, the beauty queen was invited to openings and ceremonies around town, making appearances and giving speeches. The owner of a local jewelry store gave Patterson-Sims a charm bracelet with a charm for every event she attended; she keeps the bracelet, jam-packed with charms to this day.
Although Patterson-Sims originally only competed for the scholarship opportunity, she gained more than just money and is very happy with the decision she made to compete.
“The Miss Barstow Pageant gave me a boost of confidence that I carry with me to this day,” she revealed.
The 1974 Miss Barstow has been invited to this year’s pageant as a special guest.
“I’m very excited to attend the next competition in April,” said Patterson-Sims enthusiastically. “This will be my first pageant in a while.”
Today, Miss Barstow 1974 has been happily married to Bill Sims for more than 35 years; they have three daughters, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson.
“I’m going to try to get my grandchildren to compete,” Patterson-Sims said laughing. “My daughters weren’t so interested, so I’ll have to give it another shot with them (my grandchildren).”
Patterson-Sims plans on retiring in the next few years. She’s looking forward to traveling and enjoying time with her family and friends. She added that she will always have fond memories of her hometown.
“Barstow has been good to me,” said Patterson-Sims. “As for future plans … I’ll be enjoying whatever life has to offer.”