Homecoming Queen still bleeds Utah red

By By Liz Carlston and By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

Margaret Price Carlston is a living heirloom of family, wisdom and the U8212;and her story starts more than 70 years ago on this very campus, when she became the U’s first homecoming queen.

Homecoming Week at the U has certainly seen changes during the years. Gone are the days of massive floats, quartets and KSL radio broadcasts at the Union dances. Few remember the time of matinee dances, sissy-kissing on the Park Building steps or sitting on the lawn with your best gal. And only one dimple-cheeked 93-year-old can say she was the U’s first member of Collegiate Royalty.

Utah Supreme Court justices David Moffat and William Folland hand-picked Margaret “Suzie” Price from a group of 26 coeds to greet alumni during Homecoming Week in 1936 as the first U Homecoming Queen, then known as the Homecoming Hostess. They even let her ride on the Associated Students of the University of Utah float. Tall, vivacious, gracious and dignified, Margaret used her opportunity as Homecoming Hostess to bridge the gaps between young women from the cities and rural communities.

For Margaret, people, relationships and a quick wit mean everything. She was constantly questioned about whether she played basketball because of her height. Margaret would respond, “No, do you play miniature golf?”

Standing 5’10”, a rarity for her day, Margaret was chosen for royalty on the basis of beauty, personality and poise. But she was not just a “weekend fluff” of a beauty queen, she said. Margaret engaged in many pursuits as a coed at the U, including her service as president of Associated Women Students, vice president of Delta Gamma and a member of the Utonian staff.

The beauty queen spent her summers working at the national parks in Southern Utah. In between shooting tin cans and clay pigeons with the forest rangers, she worked as a waitress at Bryce and Zions. With the wrinkle of her nose and rise of her shy eyes over a wide smile, she won over customers who opened their pocket books for tips with the line, “Isn’t there something else I can bring?”

A life can take many turns after college. For Margaret, it meant raising a child while her husband, Ken Carlston, was serving in the Pacific during World War II. After her husband returned from the war, they eventually settled down in Whittier, Calif., to raise their five children.

She worked for 30 years as a full-time substitute high school English teacher, shaping young minds until she retired at age 86. Margaret served up many bowls of ice cream to family and friends between poker games on her back porch with Disneyland fireworks booming in the distance. As a gift to graduates and newlyweds, Margaret wrote her local congressman, requesting flags from Washington, D.C. She would plan weeks ahead so that the flag would be flown over the Capitol on the day of their special occasion to personalize the gift.

Sharing a lifetime worth of wisdom for U coeds, Margaret advises to “just get up every morning and be happy.” Be involved in a lot of things, get to know a lot of people, enjoy your college years8212;not just the setting of college, and set your goals and strive to achieve them, she said.
[email protected]