It’s still televised in prime time, on a Sunday night, and on a major network, so I guess the Miss America Pageant still has a place in the hearts and minds of Mr. and Mrs. America.
In fact, according to Nielsen, more than 8 million watched this year’s event -- pretty large numbers considering what an anachronism beauty pageants seem to be in our liberated world.
(Take heart, guys. More than 18 million tuned in to Sunday Night Football.)
There was a time, not so long ago, when we celebrated the winner. A photo of her wading in the surf off Atlantic City made every newspaper’s Monday edition. I know, because I was one of the editors who put it there, every year, with the regularity of the rising sun.
We even knew their names. Remember Bess Myerson? Or Lee Meriwether? They rode the Miss America title to fame and fortune. These days, it takes a Honey Boo Boo or a Kardashian to penetrate the public consciousness.
About the only time many of us think about the Miss America Pageant nowadays is when a contestant says something that goes viral -- as Miss South Carolina did the other night.
Brooke Mosteller introduced herself by telling the world she was from the state “where 20 percent of the homes are mobile, because that’s how we roll.”
Well, that’s not exactly what those of us who make our homes in South Carolina might have wanted her to boast about. Many of us are still stinging from the fact that our contribution to cable television is a bunch of bumpkins on “Welcome to Myrtle Manor.”
It is, of course, true that almost 20 percent of our homes are mobile -- tops in the nation -- largely as a result of high poverty and low wages. There’s a reason BMW and Boeing moved to the Palmetto State.
Not that people who live in mobile homes have to apologize.
My first home was a mobile home, in a very nice park in Fargo, N.D. It was all we could afford and was much better than any apartment we might have rented.
Just a few years ago, my wife and I lived in a park model mobile home (no wheels) for two years before moving to McClellanville. We loved it and still regret selling it.
Even today, a close family member lives in a double-wide manufactured home that is roomier than our home and about as nice.
Brooke Mosteller could have played it safe. She could have mentioned the palmetto trees, the beaches, the mountains.
Instead, she took a line suggested by pageant coordinators, thinking it was a joke that everyone would get.
Unfortunately everyone didn’t and in the end she only reinforced the stereotype of South Carolina among those who don’t know about our smiling faces and beautiful places. Their loss.
Gary McCormick, a Pennsylvanian now living in Surfside Beach, told me about a non-profit website dedicated to Father Mychal Judge, who I wrote about last week.
The couple who run the charity, Bob and Sharon Hickey, were longtime friends of Father Judge.
“They are a complete non-profit and they run it out of their home,” McCormick wrote. “No salaries, no benefits, just good work.
“Every year on Sept 11, they go to Father Mychal’s breadline in Manhattan and hand out clothing, food and prayer cards.
“One year they had a special project collecting winter coats for the homeless and named the project after my son, Ryan McCormick.
“He was a paramedic at the WTC on 9/11. He, like so many other responders, got cancer and died in 2008 after a valiant battle.”
The website is www.mychalsmessage.org. Why not check it out.
Contact Bob Bestler at email@example.com.