Meet April Atkins, Once The World's Strongest 7th-Grader

You might think that a huge amount of information about a 12-year-old girl once celebrated as the "world's strongest seventh-grader" would surely exist online. That's the sort of thing ARPANET was built for, wasn't it? That, and allowing mainframe computers all over the world to talk to one another. But really, those DoD guys were really all about freakishly strong girls, weren't they? And cats?

Anyway, it seems that only the most cursory details about April Atkins — a sandy-haired pre-teen who in the mid-1950s routinely blew minds at Muscle Beach by performing utterly improbable feats of strength — can be found on the Web. My own rigorously semi-scientific research, for example, returned very little information about this extraordinary human being. (Thankfully, in 1954 LIFE sent photographer Loomis Dean to document April's powers — although his pictures never ran in the magazine.)

So. If April — or anyone who knows or knew April — is out there, please: What ever happened to her? Inquiring minds want to know.


Ben Cosgrove is the editor of Picture This is his weekly (and occasionally more frequent) feature for The Stacks.

Photo Credit: Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images