Sunday, January 15, 2012

Battle for the Crown!

(Clockwise from the top left: Miss America 1973, Terry Meeuwsen, Miss America 1980, Cheryl Prewitt, Miss America 1981, Susan Powell, Miss America 1987, Kellye Cash. Images via missamerica.org)

 My mom and I always, without fail, watched the annual Miss America Pageant together when I was a young girl.  I  always assumed that she grew up watching pageant, too and our tradition was simply a natural extension of her youth, but in 1973, my father harangued my mother into attending a pre-season Packer game in the rain despite the fact her sorority sister, Terry Meewesen, was representing Wisconsin in the Miss America Pageant that evening.  My father proclaimed Terry a long shot to win and my mom was dismayed to learn that her sorority sister became the first Miss Wisconsin to win the Miss America crown while she was dripping wet and freezing to death in row 52 at Lambeau field.  I was born the following year and for as long as I can remember my mom and I would pop a bowl of popcorn and watch the pageant.  Every year, at some point she would tell me the story about missing the the 1973 crowning of Miss America. 
Now that I think about it, I suspect my mom's unwaivering commitment to viewing the pageant on a regular basis may have had less to do with an undying love for tiaras and  a little more to do with spite, but as a kid I never thought twice about it.

Through work, my Uncle Bill had the chance to meet a couple of Miss Americas and as a result, I had signed pictures of Miss America 1980, Cheryl Prewitt and Miss America 1981, Susan Powell prominently displayed on my bulletin board for years. In 1987, Kellye Cash won the title and I basically thought she was the most incredible woman I had ever seen,  After all she could sing AND play the piano! My mom even taped the short interview that aired on the Today show following her win on the VHS tape containing my coveted copy of Annie; I must have watched that interview a thousand times and just like it never bothered me that I had to fast forward through the commercials when I wanted to watch my favorite musical, 
it never bothered me that the first few minutes of Annie 
were forever lost to Kellye Cash!
I never wanted to be Miss America and over the years became more savvy about what most  pageants really represent, but for the sake of tradition our whole family watches Miss America every year. Of course we turn  our viewing party into a battle to wear a crown, too! Last night Leif won the the chance to wear the coveted alumninum foil crown by winning what we affectionately refer to as "The Lightning Round of Objectification."  When the contestants introduce themselves we all pick our top 15 based on looks  alone; Leif impressively picked 12 out of 15 finalists after one glance!  He didn't get to keep the crown for long though; Emma predicted  Miss Wisconsin would win it all  in the lightning round and Laura Kaeppeler took home top honors last night!  It was only the second time Miss Wisconsin has won Miss America since 1921.  
There she is; your ideal...

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