My Story - From Physical Culture to Mr. America continued (pg 4)
In June 1939, for experience and fun, I entered the Annual Indiana State Weightlifting Championships which was held at Fred Hofmeister's gym in Indianapolis, Indiana. My lifts were not outstanding -- to put it mildly.
Fred encouraged me to enter the upcoming Mr. America contest which was to take place in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with the Senior National Weight Lifting Championships. All entries in the Mr. America contest were compelled to compete in the lifting also.
I had to think that one over. I didn't feel that I was of that caliber -- certainly not in weightlifting. Finally I decided - WHY NOT!? I borrowed $40.00 from a loan company and made the trip.
I have one of the original official programs in front of me now. It's a bit discolored by age (56 years.) It reads - Official Program, Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, 1939 National Senior Weight Lifting Championships. Sponsored by the Chicago Park District, under the auspices of the Central A.A.U. Weight Lifting Committee, at the Humboldt Park Bicycle Bowl, 3100 W. Augusta Boulevard. 3 day event - July 2-3-4 - 7:30 P.M. MR. AMERICA of 1939 Contest - July 4, 9 P.M. That's the complete layout on the cover. Inside the cover, all the officials are listed in each category. It also lists the names and totals lifted of the first three winners of each division in the 1938 Senior National Championships -- 112 pound class through the Heavyweight class. To my great regret, I made no entries in my 1939 program.
In the 1939 Mr. America contest - Tony Terlazzo was awarded second place; Herbert Marquardt third place. I was a complete unknown and no one was more surprised than I was to be chosen 1939 MR. AMERICA¹.
After the contest, I was encouraged to model for art classes at art schools, colleges and universities, so during the balance of 1939 and most of 1940, I did just that. I posed for drawing, painting and sculpture classes at Yale University, Columbia University, the University of Illinois and Walt Disney Studios in Hollywood, CA, just to mention a few.
While modeling at Columbia University, I worked out for awhile at Sig Klein's gym and Tony Sansone's gym. Later, Tony suggested that I audition for an opening in an adagio act which was about to go on tour. I was selected and after 2 weeks of rehearsals, the quartet, 3 men and a girl, went on tour. We did break-in dates in small towns until I got the hang of it and overcame some of the stage freight. Then we played to bigger towns. I still have some of the newspaper write-ups.
In the spring of 1941, my progress was interrupted by "Uncle Sam." I received my draft notice and was ordered to return home in Richmond, Indiana for my physical, which I passed and was given a classification of A-1. On July 3, 1941, I was inducted as a private in the Army Medical Corps and sent to Camp Lee, Virginia for basic training.
I later became a surgical technician having received my training at Walter Reid Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After finishing my training, I was given a 10 day
¹Ed. Note -- Tony Terlazzo won the Class A -- up to 5'6." Herbert Marquardt won Class B -- up to 5'9." Roland Essmaker won Class C -- over 5'9" and the overall title. Roland also placed fifth in the weightlifting portion of the contest in the 181 class at a low bodyweight of only 166 pounds.