If ever there was a woman to demonstrate that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, that woman was Mrs. Ora Mae Lewis Martin Davis (29 March 1918-28 September 2005). She was born in New Orleans to Nathan Leopold Lewis, a native of the island of St. Thomas, and Cecelia Della Atkinson, a New Orleans native. A born writer, her first piece, “The First Christmas,” was published in The Times-Picayune when she was nine years old. She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in 1936.
After graduating from high school, Ora Mae joined the staff of the Sepia Socialite, a black newspaper in New Orleans. She wrote prolifically – short stories, serials, and columns, as well as hard news. She also contributed to The Louisiana Weekly and several Catholic publications. Her literary endeavors and active work as a laywoman attracted the attention of a member of the hierarchy who saw to the bestowal of a scholarship so that Ora Mae could attend Xavier University. She continued her journalistic pursuits at Xavier and was made editor-in-chief of The Xavier Herald.
Ora Mae was described as a “militant propagandist,” who devoted much of her efforts to securing recognition for Negro achievement and equal opportunities for her race. While a devout and active Catholic, she challenged the leaders of her church on segregation. She was a tireless worker for interracial harmony and never hesitated to articulate the longings of her people for equality.
In addition to her serious articles and open letters on racial problems, she also wrote popular women’s pieces, including recipes and an advice column. In 1944, Ora Mae began a literary and current events magazine called Twinkle. The magazine proved popular with servicemen from the city, many of whom were in the Pacific, and to the young people of the city. Soldiers and civilians alike, including a sizable number of young women, contributed poems, short stories, and short articles to the magazine. Twinkle also covered literary and cultural goings-on at the local black universities and religious and civic news. The magazine was prepared in her family home at 1934 Annette Street, with Ora Mae as editor and her future husband, Mr. Lawrence Martin, Sr., as managing editor. The magazine was in publication for five years until 1949.
Each issue of Twinkle featured a “cover page girl” – some winsome, smiling face selected from among the fair maidens of the Crescent City. Presented here are the photographs and captions of the pretty Misses from the surviving issues of Twinkle.
Miss Melba Frick, the 16-year-old girl on the cover page, whose joyful heart and attractive smile blends with the fruitful vine and reflects a twinkle in her eyes. We’ll agree she has talent as well as a simple beauty after reading her story, “Teenage Vacation,” in this issue. Miss Frick is a resident of downtown New Orleans.
Miss Ruth Theresa Prudeaux is the lovely teenage girl of the cover page of this month’s Twinkle. Her bright smile and soft eyes reflect a twinkle of Creole tradition at Halloween time. She is a resident of downtown New Orleans and is a student at Xavier University.
Miss Yvonne Greenwood is the pleasant teenage girl on this month’s cover page. Her winning smile and bright eyes have a twinkling harmony with the Thanksgiving background of the Stars and Stripes.
Miss Helen Guillemet is the lovely young Creole of downtown New Orleans. Her smile gives the traditional twinkle to her dark eyes which seem to reflect Christmas candle light.
Miss Alva Dominick, a young resident of downtown New Orleans, gives the bright smile and twinkle in her eyes for this month’s cover page. She is the sister of the talented Miss Shirley Dominick, staff member of Twinkle.
Miss Alva Dominick appears again on the Twinkle cover page because of the popular request among patrons of the Louis Icard, Darrel, and Modern Barber Shops. Miss Dominick is now home for a month’s vacation from nurse training school.
Miss Clarice Garron is the lovely teenage girl on this month’s cover page. She is a resident of downtown New Orleans, also a student of McDonogh 35 High. Her bright smile gives a true twinkle to her eyes.
Miss Thais Augustine greets the readers of Twinkle as this month’s smiling cover page girl, displaying that traditional twinkle in her eyes. She is a graduate of Xavier University, January 1945.
Miss Rita Mae Ferrand is this month’s cover page girl, smiling with that winning Twinkle in her eyes. She was formerly a student of Xavier University, and is now doing her part on the job at a the local defense plant.
Miss Alexia Lewis is this month’s cover page girl. The editor of Twinkle was looking around town for the Twinkle smile on a young girl’s face. Returning home to rest, her sister met her at the door smiling – there was the Twinkle smile right there at home.
Second Lieutenant Gwyneth Blessitt, A.N.C. – is a nurse in the service of her country in Obispo, California. Her eyes smile with her lips, traditional to the Twinkle cover page girl. She was born in New Orleans and later made her home with her mother in Mt. Vernon, New York.
Miss Fannie LeBlanc is this month’s cover page girl because of her traditional Twinkle smile. Incidentally, Miss LeBlanc won the Miss New Orleans contest while Twinkle was on the press. She was sponsored by the Patterson Hotel and crowned by the popular Louis Armstrong.
Miss Cecelia McMiller is this month’s cover page girl. Her smile is in her eyes as well as upon her lips, which is traditional of every Twinkle cover page girl. She is a resident of uptown New Orleans, and was formerly an employee of a downtown defense plant.
This month’s cover page girl is a smiling young Bostonian, Miss Grace Gonsal. True to the Twinkle tradition, she has the light of youth and goodness gleaming in her eyes. She is a native and lifelong resident of Boston, Massachusetts.
This month’s cover page girl is Miss Doris Humphrey, chosen for harmony to the Twinkle tradition. She is a smiling resident of Creole downtown New Orleans, also a student at Xavier University.
Miss Countess Twitty is chosen cover page girl for this month because of her smile, in keeping with the Twinkle tradition. She is a resident of uptown New Orleans, also a student of Dillard University.
Miss Albertha Aubert greets Twinkle readers with the traditional smile which begins in her eyes and gleams on her lips. She is a resident of uptown New Orleans, is very active in the New Orleans Youth Conference, Y.W.C.A., and other well-known organizations of a business and civic nature.
Miss Albertha Aubert, the girl with the traditional Twinkle in her eyes comes back to our cover page by popular demand.
Miss Ursulie Schexnayder smiles with every reader from the Twinkle in her eyes. She is a student at Xavier University, also a resident of downtown New Orleans.
Miss Lillian Randall is the choice of a cover page girl in commemoration of Negro history. Aside from the traditional twinkle in her eyes and the glow in her smile, she has the poise of the Negro people, the leaders of the generation who are always looking upward to the hope of a better day.
Miss Angela DeGrange is this month’s cover page girl. In her eyes and smile is the traditional Twinkle. She is a student at Booker T. Washington High School, also a resident of downtown New Orleans.
Miss Ora Mae Lewis (Mrs. Lawrence Martin, Sr.), the editor of Twinkle on her wedding day.
Miss Doris Young gives to Twinkle her bright smile this month. She is a graduate of Xavier University from the Department of Education.
Miss Verna Mae Joseph – makes Twinkle cover page girl for the month. A popular young a lady with a bright smile is the record of Miss Joseph in downtown New Orleans. Her pleasing personality is known and admired by all.
Miss Dolores Mackie, first maid of the 1948 Carnival Ball which selected Twinkle cover page girls, smiles on this issue’s cover with a festive balloon in her hand. She is a popular young lady of downtown New Orleans, and the pride of her civic-minded father.
Sources: The Xavier University Archives has a bound volume containing copies of the extant issues of Twinkle Magazine.