Mystery Photo No. 66: Princess for a Day

July 20, 2014

When Pat Wylie Andrews looked at this week’s Mystery Photo, by way of the Internet from her home in Boca Raton, Fla., she was pretty sure she saw herself sitting in her very own convertible. Her stepfather and a friend, Dawn O’Brien, agreed it looked like the former Miss Pennsylvania and her car.

They were wrong, however.

David Davis sent us an email and left a phone message last Monday saying he recognized his wife as the girl sitting in what appears to be a 1956 Pontiac. He was anxious for us to call because the couple were on their way to Texas the next day to visit family.

“I was Princess for a Day,” said Carol Jean Leonard Davis. “I remember being driven all around town in that car. It was some kind of promotion by the downtown merchants. There were prizes attached. I won an outfit of clothes, and I went down to the pre-teen shop to claim my prizes.”

The photo, by an unknown photographer, was one of nearly 200 digital images of Washington donated to the Observer-Reporter’s archive by Wheeling writer and photographer Jim Thornton, who made the images from negatives he bought at a flea market. In the collection, there are also photos of an older princess sitting in the same car and flanked by the same two men, but the films on the State Theatre’s marquee are different.

Washington resident James Tennant emailed us to identify the man on the left as Michael Cardone, manager of the State Theatre, which was on the west side of North Main Street. Another Washington resident, Dean Kademenos, concurred.

“I knew that was Mike Cardone right away,” Kademenos said. “He was a friend of my family.”

Kademenos said his mother worked at the State Theatre and Cardone frequented his family’s restaurant on Route 19.

A couple of readers made guesses about the other man in the photo, but nothing could be confirmed.

Carol Davis was 13 years old and just going into eighth grade when the photo was taken. She began working in the superintendent’s office when she was a senior at Washington High School and went on to become the superintendent’s secretary and secretary of the school board. She worked 32 years for the school district and retired in 2003. She and her husband have three children and seven grandchildren.

Davis thinks the photographer might have been Ron Christman, a staff photographer for The Reporter who died in a helicopter crash in 1973 while taking photos for the annual Progress Edition. If he was the photographer, it is odd that the negatives were found at a flea market and not in the newspaper’s archive. So, that part of the puzzle remains unsolved.

Look for another Mystery Photo in next Monday’s Observer-Reporter.

Park Burroughs has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1972. He is the winner of numerous state and regional awards for feature, column and editorial writing. He is the author of two books, “Enter, With Torches: Recollections of a Grumpy Old Editor,” and "Washington County Murder and Mayhem." He retired in September 2012 but continues to contribute to the O-R’s news pages.

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