Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Jamaica to the world

Published:Thursday | October 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Lance Neita, Contributor

Chantal Raymond is off to the Miss World contest in Sanya, China, and, judging by her photographs in Monday's Gleaner (October 4), she looks a likely possibility for the top five, if not the crown, at the gala event on October 30. Her smile and her poise reflect a bubbling personality that will win many friends for Jamaica. Chantal is a Harvard Law School graduate, so don't expect her to be a pushover when it comes to the interviews designed to test the intellect of the girls.

Jamaica is, of course, no stranger to the Miss World competitions. We have been there at the very top with Cindy Breakspeare (Miss World 1976) and Lisa Hanna (Miss World 1993).

But the most smashing impact made in the Miss Jamaica World connection was when that petite 20-year-old Carole Joan Crawford won the competition in 1963 at the London Lyceum Ballroom in England.

The news hit Jamaica around 4 p.m. on November 7 and sent the entire country wild with excitement. People danced in the streets and hooted their car horns as the news broadcasts came in on Radio Jamaica and the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

The response across the nation was spontaneous. Director of Tourism John Pringle immediately adjourned a board meeting to dash off a telegram to London and the overseas tourist board offices.

Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante telephoned his congratulations. And Opposition Leader Norman Manley's message said: "Mrs Manley and Rachel send you warmest congratulations."

Elaborate welcome-home plans

Over in London, the huge crowd in the ballroom went crazy. Carole had been a crowd favourite from the beginning. The waiters at the plush Waldorf Hotel where she was staying raked in a small fortune from the bets they had placed on her. Her photograph was splashed on the front page of every newspaper in England. She received a personal congratulatory call from film star Joan Crawford, her role model, and made a Jamaican band world famous when she said that her favourite song was Byron Lee's Portrait of My Love sung by Ken Lazarus.

The Government of Jamaica laid out elaborate welcome-home plans. She was to be met at the Montego Bay airport by a host of dignitaries. The Jaycees of Jamaica, then organisers of the Miss Jamaica competition, arranged a welcome ball at the Casa Blanca Hotel, where she would be greeted by spectacular fireworks as she made her entrance into the hotel.

A 'Miss World motorcade' from Montego Bay to Kingston was arranged. Minister of Development and Welfare, Edward Seaga, also arranged a public reception at the National Stadium.

Kennedy assassinated

Unfortunately, the tragic assassination of US President John Kennedy took place on November 22, the day before Carole Crawford was sche-duled to return home. The public receptions were understandably cancelled or postponed as Jamaica joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of the president.

This was Jamaica at its best one year after attaining Independence. Carole Crawford had reigned over the 1963 independence festivities as our Independence Queen. In those early days, we were beginning to take our place among the nations of the world as the 'boasiest and brightest little country in the world'.

Winning the Miss Word title was an incredible achievement and Jamaica knew how to party.

Since 1963, we have continued to give our Miss World and our Miss Universe contestants the support and the honours due. The spontaneous joy that broke out when Cindy and Lisa won the titles, and when Yendi Phillipps came such a close second in this year's Miss Universe is part of our national psyche.

We are at our international best in beautiful people, in athletics and football, in fashion, music and dance, and in our famous brand names in the culinary arts. Would that we could transfer those efforts to other spheres of life in this country, and give ourselves more opportunities to celebrate.

Comments may be sent to columns@gleanerjm.com or lanceneita@hotmail.com.