Sunday, January 25, 2009

There she is....Miss America

Be forwarned. I love the Miss America Pageant. And the Miss USA Pageant. Any pageant, actually. So, if you're coming here thinkin' that this hillbilly girl is gonna write somethin' about pageants exploitin' women, blah, blah, blah - wrong!

I have such fond memories growin' up in the Ozarks and Grandma, Grandad and I would make plans that weekend every year to watch Miss America. After supper, we'd hurry 'round to clean the table, wash and dry the dishes and put everything away. Then Grandma would get out the old-fashioned popcorn popper, heat waaayy too much butter on the stove and get the sweet ice tea ready. Those were the days!

Well, Grandma's been gone for 12 years and Grandad only 3, but I still am a faithful follower of the pageant every year.

Miss Indiana is Miss America 2009

Nope, I never competed in the Miss Pageants. However, I did compete for and finally held the title of Mrs. Missouri (1996) - that's Mrs - as in married. I remember a little girl asked me once what the difference was between me and Miss Missouri. I wanted to say 'cellulite and stretch marks'. But instead I smiled sweetly and explained to her that I had a handsome husband at home, and well, Miss Missouri just had to go home by herself. Poor girl.

Another big difference? When Miss Missouri won she was whisked off to a big, beautiful reception in her honor. After I won, I went backstage and changed a poop-y diaper. No. Really. I did.

All, in all, it was a lot of fun. I had 'retired' from broadcast the year before and it gave me a chance to resurrect my speaking career which lasted until I moved to the Washington DC/Virginia area 8 years ago.

Lacey Fitzgerald - Miss Missouri 2009

I also had the opportunity that year to judge the American Co-Ed Pageant in St. Louis. The 12 year old girl that won grew up to represent Missouri in the Miss America Pageant this year. Lacey Fitzgerald. Even at 12 I can remember how dynamic she was in interview! That year I met another great lady whom I still love and miss dearly. Eugenia Scantlin. I wish I had a photo of the beautiful, glamorous Eugenia. Unfortunately, I don't but I'm sure you know here daughter - Melana. Melana was Miss Teen Missouri USA that year, went on to be Miss Missouri USA and was on the television show Average Joe. She also was the youngest Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader and announces for the Chiefs games.

Beautiful girl and her mama is just as beautiful. And soooo much fun! I've lost touch with Eugenia and some of my other pageant friends but just the memories of the good times we've had together makes me smile!

I have many friends that I still keep in touch with left over from my pageant days.

Aime (Rinehart) Cohen was Miss Missouri USA the same year I was Mrs. Missouri.

Aimee Rinehart Cohen - Miss Missouri USA 1996

I first met her when she competed in the Miss America system. She consistently placed in the top ten. The year she competed for Miss Missouri USA she won and I ended up being her personal assistant and traveled with her. She essentially loaned me her competition wardrobe to wear at Mrs. America! How cool is that?!? Now she is married with a family of her own and we still keep in touch. She is one of my best friends and I talk to her and see her as often as I can, but not near as much as I'd like.

Sonya Wise - Mrs. Missouri 1999

Sonya was my 2nd runner-up. She took a short break from competing and came back and won the pageant in 1999. However, I knew Sonya before then. I've known her for over 20 years - and although she still lives 'back home' - yes, another hillbilly debutante, we talk at least once a week and she's even been here to Virginia to visit me! And - ahem! - keeps promising another visit.

Laurett Arenz - Mrs. America 2001

Laurett was Mrs. Virginia when she won Mrs. America. About a year after I moved here I was the Fashion Director for a modeling agency and I was Laurett's agent. It really is a small world, isn't it? She's a truly nice woman and very hard worker. I wish all of my models and actors had been as hard-working and reliable as she was.

So, you see - all those feminists who talk about how pageants 'exploit' women - I just don't see it that way. And while it's not for everyone, pageants were a wonderful experience for me that opened lots of doors. I miss the comraderieship and the glamour! But I will always treasure the lasting friendships I made along the way. So much for the stories of sabotage and destruction. And while I'm sure stuff like that does go on, I (thank God) never experienced it.

Plus, if I can dispel any 'hillbilly girl' stereotypes along the way, I'm only happy to oblige!

Thank you for letting this old 'has-been' reminisce for a while. Shhh...I think they're playing my song!

There she is.....Miss America...

There she is... your ideal....


Gracie Beth said...

I am always in awe when I watch pageants of how the contestants do all that they do! Some of them are my age and they are so very accomplished.

Lisa Ann said...

I used to watch the pageants with my mom and grandma when I was growing up. Here's a fun fact for you Miss America 1979 was from our county. I met her after she won. I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time.

(Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers more than I can say. I treasure your friendship.)

~Crystal~ said...

I have to always watched Miss America & Miss USA also. And I have to keep my handy notebook with me, to keep my own score. I normally can pick about 12 of the top 15. I have done that since I was super young. How cool that you were so involved!

Coffee with Cathy said...

Love the insight and background peek into pageants, Kathie. Congrats on your 1996 win, too! Good for you. Have you posted a pic of that yet?

Back Through Time said...

Hey! Where is your pic??? I am sure you are just as lovely as all that you have posted. I used to love to watch those pageants and dream........Oh well life went on and I faced reality at about 15, LOL! You are so lucky to win what you did!
your blog is so fun!! Hope we visit each other again soon!!

Kristina said...

I love your blog! You are one of the first blogs I visited and I always love to come back and see what's new here. I got my first blog award and wanted to share it with you :-) It is posted at

Anonymous said...

You make me want to strangle infants.

Kathie Truitt said...

Dear Anonymous,

Ha! I guess I've never heard it put quite like that, but if I get on your nerves I totally understand. I even annoy myself sometimes.

Have a good day!