It took an outsider to solve the mystery of Akron’s missing Playmate.
Richard Newsome lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
He has no connection to Akron.
He has no connection to the Playmate.
He has no connection to me.
What he does have is a strong sense of curiosity. And when he happened across my column about Melinda Windsor, the pseudonym for Miss February 1966, he swung into action.
We were trying to find her because it was the 50th anniversary of her issue, which identified her as a native of Akron. I thought it would be fun to see how she views that era now and how the rest of her life turned out.
But nobody seemed to know her real name or where she was.
Endless Google searches produced nothing. Not even the 3,987 members of a Yahoo group called “Melinda Windsor — a Tribute to the Loveliest Playmate of the 1960s” could figure it out.
Although multiple local residents reported encounters with someone they believed was her, they likely were wrong, because she only lived here until the age of 12.
At the time she posed, “Melinda” was living in Decatur, Ill. Real name: Ann Brockway.
Brockway graduated in 1962 from MacArthur High School in Decatur, went to Graceland College in Iowa and then to UCLA.
By age 22, she was already married, to a man named Niels Hansson.
If she is still alive — Newsome thinks she is, but we haven’t confirmed that yet — she is 72.
According to a Beacon Journal article printed in 1948, her father, the Rev. Charles Brockway, was “a pioneer research chemist” at B.F. Goodrich who on Sundays preached to a small congregation of Mormons, members of a breakaway sect called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints.
And get this: Her mother, Edith Brockway, wrote a local history column for … your favorite newspaper. From 1948 through 1951, she produced a Sunday column called “Looking Back.”
Ann had a younger sister, Joy. The family lived at 204 White Pond Drive from late 1947 until they headed west in December 1956.
Almost all of this information was uncovered by my new best friend in Brooklyn.
Newsome doesn’t recall how or where he came across my column, but says he enjoys “a bit of local history/genealogical-type research, and the fact that nobody knew who ‘Melinda Windsor’ really was — 50 years after she appeared in Playboy! — lodged in my mind.”
How did he do it?
Newsome spends a couple hundred bucks a year for premium access to a database called Newspapers.com, which has been digitizing old newspapers and, he says, contains a wealth of information that doesn’t show up on Google or Proquest.
That site led him to articles in the Decatur newspaper identifying her as the Playmate in question.
Newsome found additional information via Ancestry.com, which offers old census records and Akron city directories.
Best of all … he may have found her. Her Facebook page says she is living in San Pedro, Calif. But she hasn’t posted anything for more than 15 months.
VETS NEED HELP
Every year it’s a challenge, but this year could be particularly tough for the good folks who put together the annual Summit County Stand Down for homeless and displaced veterans.
For the past 10 years, about 400 vets have gone on the designated day to the VFW Post on Waterloo Road, where they are given warm clothing, footwear, blankets, underwear, sleeping bags and toiletries.
They also can get free screenings for foot, eye, dental and vision problems and be tested for AIDS and diabetes.
A February fire at a New Jersey warehouse owned by the Department of Veterans Affairs destroyed supplies the local group normally receives. Organizers say they are looking at a $500,000 shortfall.
If you want to help this good cause — to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 13 — the group is seeking donations of cash and the aforementioned clothing.
Checks can be sent to: Summit County Veterans Council Stand Down, c/o American Legion Post 175 at 3733 Fishcreek Road, Stow, OH 44224.
The group will pick up goods at your location. Contact Dale Luzader at email@example.com.
Stand Down is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group, so donations are tax deductible.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31