by Laura Berthold Monteros
A Rose Queen Is Forever, Margaret Huntley Main wrote, and she is living proof that is true. The oldest living Rose Queen at age 95, she is still regal and still utterly in control of her surroundings. Main founded the Queen’s Club with fellow Rose Queen Sally Stanton Rubsamen, who passed away in April. She made a commanding appearance at the coronation of the 2017 Rose Queen, Victoria “Tori” Castellanos, on Oct. 20.
This was not Main’s first time on the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse. At age 14, she accepted the award for the best one-act middle school play. She told how the stagehands had dressed her as an elderly lady with a cane before she came onstage. “And here I am,” she said, “an elderly woman with a cane!”
She and Rubsamen founded the Queen’s Club in 1949 to welcome new Tournament of Roses queens and support former queens. In the past, the young women were simply dropped after the last seconds of the Rose Bowl Game, and it could take a toll on them. She stresses that the Tournament is better now, and has things for the Royal Court to do after the big celebration is over. But for much of its history, that was not the case.
“I watched former queens get sick,” Main said. She reminisced about her Rose Parade, the 51st. “It rained,” she said. The Tournament gave the girls cellophane rain bonnets to wear, but long about East Pasadena, she said, “the crowd yelled, ‘Take ‘em off!’” and they did. “1940 was the best parade of all!” she said. The enthusiasm of the crowd “just washes over you and forgives all your sins.”
Asked what advice she would give to her fellow Rose Queens, she replied, “Never give advice unless it’s asked.” She added tidbist on representing the Tournament and the city, queenly decorum, and getting help from former queens. “There’s no bill,” she smiled. And finally, “Never, never go running down the streets of Pasadena with two runny-nosed toddlers.”
All photos except archival copyright Laura Berthold Monteros