Tidbits -July 1, 2021

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TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


PAGEANTRY
  Well, it’s another one of those rapid turnaround newspapers.
  I got a call from the Index-Journal Thursday asking me if I could email the July 1 paper to them on Friday, June 25, instead of Monday, June 28.
  I had already planned to send the July 8 paper on Friday, July 2,  because July 4th will be celebrated on Monday, July 5th, our regular printing day.
  So, what do I write about?
  I put a picture on the front page of the Miss South Carolina Saluda County connections.
  Unless you are Facebook friends with Samantha Nichols, Christy Corley Nichols and David Coffman, you probably didn’t know David’s daughter Madison Coffman is Miss Capitol City 2020. You should know Christy’s daughter Samantha is Miss Upstate. David, Christy and Samantha are all Saluda High graduates.
  As irony would have it Savannah and Madison were two of the three contestants in the interview portion at the same time. Of the two asking the questions, one was the current Miss S.C. Morgan Nichols, whose grandparents are from Saluda County.
  As the Saluda County information spreader, I let Sam and David know about the connections.
   Because of the early deadline, I don’t know how the pageant came out.
  The Miss America pageant and its state contests have changed a great deal.
  In the old days, Miss America would have ten finalist who each competed in talent, swimsuit and evening gown. The five finalists would get one question each.
  Today, you have 15 finalists and some may compete in talent. My favorite part, swimsuit, has  been eliminated.
  When I was growing up, the Miss America Pageant was the most watch event on television every year.
  It always fell on the Saturday night before our Grigsby-Herlong Reunion on Sunday, and the contest was the first thing discussed at church, and the reunion.
  Back then, the contestants went by their full names.
  A name I remember for some reason is Maria Beale Fletcher.
  She was Miss North Carolina and a ballerina. Nobody in our family liked ballerinas, but some of us had to watch,   because we only had one bathroom back then.
  Maria showed us. She pirouetted herself right to the title of Miss America.
  Everybody knew Miss America’s name, or all three, back then. For one year she was one of the most famous women in America.
  As I’ve written many times, I saw many pageants in college when I became friends with Miss S.C., Claudia Carmen Turner (all three),  because she was friend of my college roommate, Mickey Gresham.
  Claudia was first runner-up to Miss America, Phyllis George (I’m ashamed to say, I can’t remember Phyllis’ middle name), and was invited to a lot of pageants all over the state.
  If Mickey and I could get away, we’d go the contests.
  When Claudia gave up her crown in Greenville’s Memorial Auditorium, I was the date of Miss Saluda, Virgil Stoudemayer. I got to go to the after-pageant party, and I believe that was the last time I saw Claudia in person. She made a bunch of milk commercials after her pageant days.
  Years later, I returned to the Miss South Carolina pageant, after my sisters Dibbie and Elizabeth brought the Miss Saluda County contest back after about 20 years, and Alice Herlong won.
  They found out how expensive the pageant was, even then.
  Competing for Miss South Carolina takes tremendous commitment from the contestants and their families, and it’s not just for a week of competition.
  If you follow Samantha on social media, you saw how many places she’s visited the last two years promoting agriculture. In normal times, a reign is one year, but  because of the pandemic there was no Miss South Carolina pageant last year, so contestants had to serve two years.
  Samantha did a great job.