Ramona’s 1938 Turkey Day Queen, Altarene “Dottie” Ivabelle Richardson McIntosh, died at age 91 on Aug. 7.
“She was an adorable woman,” said her daughter, Linda McIntosh Thomsen.
Looking nostalgically through her mother’s album of turkey queen pictures and articles, Thomsen showed photos of her mother, adorned with her crown, holding a regal “King” turkey. In another photo, McIntosh posed, wearing a turkey feather robe.
Thomsen pulled out her mother’s favorite picture— a “pin-up” shot of her, wearing a cowgirl hat and boots, riding a turkey. That photo was distributed around the world, said Thomsen.
For a year, McIntosh represented Ramona and the turkey industry through appearances in parades and fairs all over California and graced the cover of many magazines and newspapers.
“She was quite a popular queen,” Thomsen said, noting that in the 1930s Ramona was the turkey capital of the world and its festival drew 40,000 to 50,000 people.
McIntosh was the first of a line of royalty in the Richardson/McIntosh/Thomsen family. Although the Turkey Day Queen competition ended in 1941, her daughter Linda was crowned Miss Ramona in 1957, and Linda’s daughter, Marjorie Thomsen Leunen, became Miss Ramona in 1980.
Born on Feb. 17, 1921, in El Cajon, McIntosh moved to Ramona in 1925 with her parents, Ralph and Ethel Richardson, her five brothers — Roy, Hubert, Rayme, Donald, and Robert — and her sister, Ruth, when her father was transferred with the Union Oil Company. According to her family, McIntosh fell in love with Ramona and cherished her life here.
She also loved to tell people how she acquired her nickname. As the story goes, her little brother could not pronounce her name, Altarene, and would walk up to the bassinet and say “See the pretty Dolly, mama?” Because his “L’s” sounded more like “T’s,” she became “Dottie.”
Extremely flexible as a young girl, McIntosh was an acrobatic dancer and performed at the World’s Exposition at Balboa Park in the 1930s, said Thomsen.
In high school she was close with many of her classmates. Noting there were only about 20 in a high school class, Thomsen said, “They were all best of buddies. They had a ball. That whole group — when you think of happy days, you think of the ‘50s, but I think their’s were crazy days…they must have been a kick ‘cause there was nothing to do here.”
Most of the kids made their living on the turkey ranches at that time, said Thomsen.
“They had things like sock hops and everything was at the high school. Those days you were extended families, you know, so it was pretty cool.”
McIntosh’s lifelong friends included Gertrude Page, Mary Kay Pinkard and Bob Ransom. Pinkard and Ransom died within the past two months.
“We never told her about Bob or Mary Kay because of the fact that she was so ill and I didn’t want her to know that this had happened, because she was in the hospital at the time,” said Thomsen. “She would see them when she got up in heaven.”