Saturday, January 30, 2010

There she is...

In 1974, for Christmas, I got a Miss America Barbie doll.

I would've seen it in the Sears or Eaton's Christmas catalogue - that's where we got all our toys back then. There was no Wal-Mart, no Toys R Us, not even a Zeller's store within driving distance of our tiny town back then. They're all there now.

But I remember that I wanted it - bad. And on Christmas morning, there she was, with her flocked cape with fake ermine trim, and her tiara, and her sceptre. I think, looking back, it was the single most wonderful Christmas wish-come-true I can remember.

Somehow, living in a tiny fishing town in Newfoundland, Canada, Miss America meant something to me. Some kind of ideal. Did I see the pageant on TV? I can't remember. We only had 2 channels, both Canadian. But the pageant was broadcast worldwide. Somehow I knew who she was, and why I wanted that Barbie.

Tonight, for some masochistic reason, I am watching the 2010 Miss America pageant.

It's sponsored by Amway. Rush Limbaugh is one of the judges. And I just watched an ad for a pharmaceutical product that will help you grow more eyelashes.

God, does a fall from grace get any worse than this? A brand, an ideal, trampled beneath a stiletto heel, into the mud.

ronnie

8 Comments:

Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

My first teaching job was at City College of San Francisco, starting in 1973 (the year before your doll!) and continuing until I fell into my current job in 1989. I still have very strong, visceral attachments to CCSF.

When I first walked onto the campus, high on a knoll in the fog-conveyor-belt from the ocean to the bay, there were two alumni of the school who were revered as icons: a big-time running back in the NFL, and the epitome of Miss America.

One of them is still remembered dearly; the other is now pretty much anathema.

Our Miss America (and everybody's): Lee Meriwether (Miss America 1955)is the one remembered dearly. She and the others of her decade were a bit different from today's, weren't they?

5:16 AM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

Growing up in the 50s-60s, I never had or wanted a Barbie but my sister had several. I was too busy being a tomboy and playing hockey with the boys. It broke my mother's heart when I told her I didn't want dolls from Santa anymore. My daughter didn't like Barbies either but we had a full array of Cabbage Patch Kids.

Argh!!!! Limbaugh as a judge of beauty? Duh? I'll pass.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

I used to watch every minute of those pageants, before my feminist sensibilities grew. I remember when Terry Meeusen beat Miss North carolina -- Connie Dorn, who did a classical ballet performance that was absolutely breathtaking. Around 1972.

But to give her due credit, Terry belted out "He Touched Me" very very well. She now sits next to our dear Pat Robertson as cohostess of The 700 Club, urghh, but the whole thing did have class back in the day, in a way that's just gone.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

I remember when Miss America was a big deal--actual "Must See TV." We gathered the family, rooted for our home state, picked favorites, argued results. When you've only got three channels and one of them's got pretty girls in bathing suits, I know which I'd watch.

Times change, mostly for the better. I don't blame Miss America for falling from grace as much as America for growing past her. It's a relic some of us remember fondly, but a relic nonetheless.

Lee Meriwether! A late great uncle of mine ran a commercial excursion boat on San Francisco Bay. Not a big tour outfit, but a small high-class one. He loved telling the story about the pretty teenager who worked as his deckhand for a while before going on to better things. Young Miss Meriwether swabbed my uncle's foc'sle, and that's not a metaphor for something else, you pervs.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Dann said...

[nitpick]

That is spelled "fo'c'sle". [grin]

[/nitpick]

What a cool story. IMO, a great many....dare I say most...Miss America participants are really tremendous people with talents that extend well beyond what the competition requires.

3:52 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Dear Sherwood:

Done.

You know what I'm talkin' about.

Lord, I hates me some comment spam.

ronnie

8:59 PM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

What was unsettling about that now-expunged comment spam is that it evaded the wiggly-word screen. I wonder if that means that an actual person is responsible for that particular stuff, one blog at a time.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

there were no Barbies when I was a kid, but my oldest nieces were crazy about them ten years later. It was always fun to visit their house and see their toys all neatly arranged in their rooms....with Barbie and Ken neatly tucked into the same bed.

4:28 PM  

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