"Gladiolus," said the professorial gentleman. Edna Stover, 11, of Trenton, N. J., felt baffled. "Gladiolus," repeated the gentleman. "It is the name of a flower." Edna took his word for it. She gulped. "G-l-a-d-y-o-l-u-s," said Edna, and looked scared. The gentleman was sympathetic. That really was pretty close for guessing, but he waved her aside and she had to stumble off the platform to her seat. If she cried when she got there, it was nerves, not bad sportsmanship. "G-L-A-D-I-O-L-U-S." Loudly, brightly, firmly, confidently, 11-year-old Frank Neuhauser of Louisville, Ky., spelled it right. Then he stood quivering with excitement, choking back a grin, while the auditoriuma Washington, D. C, onecrackled loudly with applause for the first national spelling champion, victor over two million foes by the harrowing margin of a single vowel. Frank eagerly accepted his prizes, a gold medal and $500 in gold which his father, a millhand, said Frank would save towards college. Elimination bees in different cities had thinned out the competitors to nine state champions, who laughed to hear the cinchy words they began the finals with"catch, black, grant, warm." First to drop out was Almeda Pennington of Houston, Tex., who slipped up on "skittish." "Scittish," Almeda spelled it. Mary Coddens, the little Belgian girl from South Bend, Ind., was next. She has spoken English only five years, but never faltered until she mixed "cosmos," the universe with "cosmas," a flower. Loren Mackey, the bass-voiced Oklahoma boy, followed Mary out. "Propeller" did for him.
The downfall of Patrick Kelly, 10-year-old orphan from New Haven, Conn., was tragic. Patrick had arrived in Washington with 21 textbooks on grammar and spelling, including a "dictionary" by Patrick Kelly, containing over 4,000 words hard to spell. Somehow he had overlooked "blackguard," and when the word-giver pronounced it, "blaggard," Patrick said, "Huh ?", and then spelled it just the way it sounded. Every one liked Patrick.
Dorothy Karrick of Detroit went down after "statistician," and Mary Daniel of Hartford, Conn., after "valu-ing." Helen Fischer of Akron, Ohio, missed "moribund," the last word before "gladiolus."
"A good exciting finish," said the spelling editors of The Louisville Courier-Journal and other newspapers that had organized the bee.