Saturday, June 12, 2021

Sepia Saturday: Pepsi Girl Friend

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo taken in a radio station in the 1940s reminded me of a letter that my mother saved from her youth.  

It was addressed to Johnnie Blanks in her care. Who was Johnnie Blanks and why did he use her address? Hold that thought. Let’s consider the letter first.

Apparently “Johnnie” had sent a fan letter and a photo to Betty, the Pepsi-Cola Girl Friend at the local radio station, WTAR, the very first to go on the air in Virginia. Betty must have been an important figure at WTAR. Afterall, she had letterhead and matching envelopes. However, Google searches came back with nothing relevant, either Betty Draper from “Mad Men” or Hallie Eisenberg, the little girl from the Pepsi commercials in the 1990s.

Dickie Blanks in 1946

Johnnie’s description sounds much like Momma’s high school sweetheart Richard “Dickie” Blanks. The postmark on the envelope was 1942 when Momma was just 13. I doubt they were dating that early, but who knows? I have 2 theories about Johnnie’s identity:

  1. Dickie wrote to Betty under an assumed name and used Momma’s address so that his parents would not know.
  2. Momma wrote the letter just to see what would happen – in that silly teenage girl way – maybe hoping Dickie would be listening to the radio.

At first, I thought Betty might have been a disc jockey until I noticed that she SANG “Elmer’s Tune.” Maybe she was part of Pepsi’s sponsorship of the radio program, the voice of Pepsi, so to speak.

Would you like to hear the song? It’s not Betty – it’s Glenn Miller and the Modernaires. The vocals start after 1 minute. The title does not sound very romantic – I can’t help thinking of Elmer Fudd – but it topped the charts in December 1941, just a month before Betty dedicated it to Johnnie Blanks. 


Turn your dial to SS574 for the top hits in Sepia Saturday stories and old photos.


© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. My father used to play "Elmer's Tune" on the piano. I didn't know there were lyrics for it.

  2. That's a terrific piece of radio ephemera with the bonus of a real enigma too. Kind of like a Nancy Drew mystery. Of course I love that Betty includes a popular song title as well to give it a touch of romance. I wonder if she was part of a local band that played for a Pepsi-Cola sponsored show. It's strange that the job of “Pepsi-Cola Girl Friend” produces nothing anywhere in the newspaper archives. Need more sleuthing.

  3. Wonderful post. That letter, sealed with a kiss, is a gem! I subscribe to your first theory about Dickie using your mom’s address. At that age, your mom and Dickie may have just been friends who collaborated on the ruse. Betty’s letter certainly describes Dickie well, which lends credence to your supposition. Great sleuthing, as always.

  4. The minute the band began to play I recognized the tune! My Mom used to sing it and I'm sure I've heard a recording of it on a record or cassette tape. I love music from the '30s & '40s!

  5. I love the old music too! It makes me happy. As for your mystery ... what a fun one! "Betty" certainly wanted to play up the girl friend role. Good for the radio station, I'll bet. I didn't find Betty, but a quick search found this from 1941.

  6. What a fun story...with the missing information forever just beyond reach!