Homecoming queen returns to alma mater 50 years later

September 27, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF - Cricket Simmons turns through the pages of a scrapbook her mother made for her. It’s filled with newspaper clippings, telegrams, cards and photographs about the day Simmons was name homecoming queen at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

She smiles and laughs when she turns the page and notices the white sash she wore.

“I haven’t looked at this in probably 50 years,” she said.

As Simmons takes her trip down memory lane, she is also preparing for a ride in the 2018 homecoming parade on Friday at 6 p.m., as well as viewing the game on Saturday against Purdue University. She will be taking part in the celebration of the announcement of the new royal court at a banquet 50 years after she participated.

When Simmons went through the process to eventually become homecoming queen, every living unit and every floor of the dorms could put up a candidate. Each candidate went through an interview process, which she thrived in.

“I always enjoyed the interview process because you are who you are and people either like you or they don’t,” she said. “You can’t predict what to say and I’ve always been totally at ease with that.”

Simmons said the interview and the questions were a test, they were more about how you handled everything. She also believes she was lucky because she was asked two questions no one else could answer that were pure circumstance.

At the time, Bill Cosby was going to visit Lincoln. The question presented to her was what school did he attend. She has just seen someone with a Cosby album where he was wearing a sweatshirt from Temple University.

“So, I said Temple University,” she said. “It was pure luck.”

The other question was about who had just received the bronze medal at the Olympics in Mexico.

“John (Simmons) was on the track team, otherwise I would have never known who Charlie Green was,” she said.

Ten finalists were determined by the interview. Then, the students voted on final 10. Simmons was one of them.

“I guess I had a lot of friends,” she said.

The winners were announced on Friday night at banquet. Simmons thinks back now about how she should have known she had a chance at winning when her mother, who was raising her children alone, had made it to the event.

“I never thought anything of it being a finalist,” she said. “They had told her I was one of the three finalists.”

When they announced the first runner up, Simmons’ mother became excited.

“When they announced the second runner up, she got really excited,” Simmons said.

Simmons remembers receiving a kiss on the cheek from then governor Norbert Tiemann and that the game was terrible.

“It was against Kansas State. We lost,” she said. “It was absolutely freezing.”

The Cornhuskers lost 12-0.

Simmons turns the page in her scrapbook and fondly remembers the cards, newspaper clippings, photographs and telegrams and the people behind them. She never thought she would win. Fifty years later, she will be sitting in the audience watching another young lady be named homecoming queen who didn’t think she would win either.

“The nice thing is, it wasn’t about looks,” she said. “I was surprised to win and I’m looking forward to going back.”

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