Originally created 06/27/99

Mementos of beauty pageant sold



AIKEN -- By 9 a.m Saturday, more than 50 cars had lined up in front of the modest house on Boardman Road.

Some came to buy antiques, some came hoping to walk away with a piece of history. Some were just in it for the glassware.

Registered bidders numbered 180 people at the estate auction of Nancy Moore Thurmond, the estranged wife of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, and of Mrs. Thurmond's parents Paul and Julia Moore. The auction was at the Moore's house, the home where Mrs. Thurmond grew up.

And there were plenty of items on which to bid.

There were baby items: sterling diaper pins with the word Nancy engraved on them, a herd of silver elephant and piggy-shaped banks, each about the size of a tennis ball and baby silverware. Many of these came from dignitaries when Mr. and Mrs. Thurmond's first child, also named Nancy Moore Thurmond, was born, said Chardell Holmquist, an auction staff member.

There were several oil-on-canvas portraits of the senator, more than a dozen photos of the senator with Ronald Reagan, all of them autographed by the former president. Plus there were a few autographed photos of Captain Kangaroo, with the autographs made out to the Moores.

There were even some of the dresses Mrs. Thurmond wore when she won Miss South Carolina in 1966 and other pageants that she won.

But the item that drew the most attention was the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado she won as a prize for winning Miss South Carolina. The scepter she took home from the contest was part of the sale.

Bidding started promptly at 10 a.m. The first item, an American flag, was sold in less than a minute for $10. The auctioneer maintained a hectic pace, selling a vase that was a gift the senator for $20, a pellet gun for $35 and a baseball signed by a former baseball commissioner for $75.

A box of Strom Thurmond campaign pins went for $80. A framed White House Christmas card from President Clinton and his wife Hillary sold for $25. One of the photographs of Captain Kangaroo went for $20.

The Oldsmobile and the scepter sold for $2,650.

"It's an interesting old car. It's also the first year that they made the Toronado," said John Pettigrew, who bought the car.

Mrs. Thurmond sat with her parents in the shade behind the bidders, watching the action, sometimes chuckling about the items the bidders decide they've got to have.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," she said.

The auction was run by Linda Page and Julio Avendano. Unsold items were loaded up and will be sold at an auction in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Ms. Page said. Thirty percent of the proceeds from the estate sale will be donated to cancer research.

Jim Summer of Newberry bought several items, including silver flatware, pictures of Nancy Thurmond and old postcards.

"I bought the stuff because Strom was the best senator we ever had," Mr. Summer said.

Associate Press reports were used in this article.

Todd Bauer can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.