Between 1941 and 1976, riders on the New York City subways were treated to posters of beaming young women, each dubbed “Miss Subways.” Every month or two, a new “Miss Subways” graced the city’s trains
Recently, photographer Fiona Gardner and journalist Amy Zimmer tracked down 40 of the 200+ former beauty pageant winners, and juxtaposed the photos and stories of these women today with their Miss Subways posters in a newly published book, Meet Miss Subways.
At the book launch party in New York City in November, one of the Miss Subways in attendance was our very own Shirley Martin, who just celebrated her 25th year anniversary as an employee of the Pritikin Longevity Center.
“We had a blast,” laughs Shirley, 75, whose poster decorated more than 14,000 subway cars in May and June of 1960. Accompanying her to the book party, held at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a 1950s-themed restaurant in Mid-Manhattan, were her three daughters Lesley, Linda, and Lauren.
“I owe it all to Pritikin living!”
“I had fun with everyone I met!” says Shirley. “I told them, ‘Well, you can see I haven’t changed much since my Miss Subways days… I owe it all to Pritikin living!’”
She had a ready audience, particularly since Ellen Hart herself, owner of Ellen’s Stardust Diner, is also a Miss Subways (1959), a Pritikin fan, and a regular visitor to the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, Florida, for health and weight-loss vacations.
But most of all, Shirley’s audience was so receptive because Shirley really does glow with good health.
In keeping with her Pritikin lifestyle, she exercises several times a week and eats well. She has superb blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and needs no prescription medications. That’s right, none.
“As I get older, I’ve become so profoundly aware of how important my health is. I have many friends my age – in their seventies and often younger – who just aren’t feeling well, or they’ve already died. I feel very lucky to have been part of Pritikin all these years – to have learned long ago how to live well.”
Health and weight-loss vacations
Another perk of her Pritikin career are occasional retreats at the Pritikin Longevity Center, which proved especially helpful last October. Just months before Shirley had lost the love of her life – her husband, Ray – whom she’d been married to for more than 50 years.
But today, buoyed by the love of her three daughters, son Ray, and nine grandchildren, plus her Pritikin vacations, Shirley is re-energized, a trim 10 pounds lighter, and thrilled to be a part of events like her New York City rendezvous with her daughters.
Another source of inspiration is her current work with Pritikin, which involves keeping in touch with alumni all over the world and helping them register for health and weight-loss vacations at Pritikin.
“It’s revitalizing to hear their stories,” says Shirley. “I have people who’ve been tremendously successful with Pritikin living. They’re in their 60s, 70s, and 80s but are living life with all the joy and exuberance of people far younger.
“And some, like long-time alum Ricardo Longorio, have been so successful with the Pritikin Program that they want everyone they love to feel as good as they do. Ricardo has sent members of his family and dozens of other friends and business associates to Pritikin every year.
“To be part of their joy keeps me joyful – and feeling as young as my Miss Subways days!”