Clayton’s past: Men dressing as women

ajames@newsobserver.comJanuary 3, 2014 

A contestant in the Miss Captivating Catastrophe pageant in 1976.


Second in a series

As Clayton has grown, some of its historic buildings and houses have been lost. So have some of the town’s traditions.

Gray Satterfield, 59 years old and a lifelong Clayton resident, recalls one of those traditions, the womanless beauty pageant. His memories are vivid because he was among the contestants one year in the Miss Captivating Catastrophe pageant, a fundraiser for the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

Satterfield dressed as Aretha Franklin. Town historian Pam Baumgartner recalled that her cousin, Herman Mitchiner, dressed as Tina Turner that same year.

Satterfield laughed as he recalled Mitchiner’s outfit. To fill out his bra, he inserted balloons filled with water, but they fell out on stage.

With swimwear and evening gown competitions, the pageant drew prominent men in Clayton; everyone from the police chief to the mayor competed.

The pageant debuted in the 1960s but faded, was reborn in the 1970s but fizzled out again. The Kiwanis Club tried to revive the tradition in the 1970s, but the pageant failed to draw cards.

“When Clayton was small, everyone knew everyone who was in it,” Baumgartner said.

It just wasn’t as funny watching strangers dress up.

Clayton will keep changing of course. The next two years alone will bring three new apartment complexes, a full-service hospital and improved roadways, including a Front Street extension that will connect downtown to N.C. 42 East.

“I would’ve never thought there would be a hospital in Clayton,” Satterfield said.

But despite all of the changes, some things remain the same.

Jones’ Lunch still serves its red hot dogs, and T.R. Lee’s on Main Street still offers full-service auto repairs.

James: 919-553-7234

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