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Cali Owings, Published October 11 2013

NDSU's 1946 homecoming queen says women have it better now

FARGO — When Margaret “Marty” Anderson, now McMorrow, rode in North Dakota State University’s 1946 Homecoming parade as the school’s homecoming queen, she and her attendants wore fur coats on loan from a local fur store.

“I think fur is completely out nowadays,” McMorrow said, citing one of the many ways times have changed in the 67 years since she reigned as homecoming queen.

McMorrow recalled her time as queen in an interview Friday, hours before she was scheduled to ride in NDSU’s homecoming parade in downtown Fargo wearing a sash over a Bison sweatshirt. The parade was canceled due to inclement weather.

When McMorrow was chosen as queen, she was one of the few to win votes from the student body as an independent candidate without an affiliation to a sorority. At that time, all of the campus sororities put up a candidate for homecoming queen, and one of them usually won.

McMorrow, who will turn 87 next month, said than in 1946, the year she was queen, it was the second year after veterans came back to campus after World War II. In the years before then, she said it was like going to an all-girls school.

Still, women at the college didn’t have many options.

“You wouldn’t even dream of going into engineering,” she said.

McMorrow studied food and nutrition, made good grades and was involved on campus.

“I think this is a much better time for young women,” she said

While McMorrow said she accomplished much more in college than winning the homecoming contest, the title was a big deal for her parents.

“The best thing I remember is my dad standing there with tears down his cheeks,” she said.

Her parents took the train from Arnegard, N.D., to see her in the parade.

McMorrow’s mother took a job as a bookkeeper to help put her through college, at a time when it wasn’t common or popular to work outside the home.

“That was one of the reasons I wanted to do it all,” she said.

McMorrow still has great pride for the school – though she’s not a huge football fan, as it was always too cold wearing nylons and high heels at games, as was expected in 1946.

But her husband and two of her children also graduated from NDSU. Her youngest went to the University of North Dakota – which was against “family law,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599