well sort of...a coal miner's grand daughter counts. I never know what type of situation I will find myself in by the end of the day, so when I ended up several hundred feet underground at Riverview Coal Mines with a personalized glittered hard hat on, it was no surprise. Mining has been the livelihood of many members of my community and my family for years, and as I always say, you can't turn your back on the people who made you who you are. So it is one of my many missions, to educate both myself and others on the good that coal mining brings. We always hear the bad, and like anything, there are things that needed to be addressed...and they were, and continue to be, in order to make mining cleaner. Heath, Ricky, my dad, a man named Cornbread, and I were in attendance underground. They gave me my very own personalized Miss Kentucky 2009 hard hat to keep. If Miss America doesn't work out look for me underground. Although the mines are cleaner, I certainly was not. I looked like I had been down many a chimney, and of course my dad insisted on 'running' by Wal Mart. Noone will recognize me surely...pshhh...as soon as we walk in there are two little boys running at me full blast..."Miss Kentucky!!" They saw right past that coal dust and asked me to autograph their dad's Wal-Mart receipt...this was my favorite autograph situation to date.
This event was among the 6,000 that I had this past week in my hometown. When I go home I am relentless...I have to be, I love to be. I participated in the largest Veteran parade in the state in Madisonville. I got to do an unscheduled autograph signing when someone fell off the top of the fire truck float in front of me and the parade halted momentarily...they were ok.
I did about 20 schools while I was at home. From Pride, to Madisonville, to Hopkinsville, to Earlington, to Dixon, to every other city in the West, then back to Morganfield...My Morganfield. It constantly takes me back to the moment where every single event from my life in that tiny town came together...to the moment where my dream came true, and in turn began a trend in my hometown among the young people to do the same. I went to St. Ann School until the 8th grade, then on to Union County High School(the only high school in the county). During my trip home I visited both my alma maters. At the high school I stood on the stage in the auditorium, holding the same ruby red slippers that I wore nine years ago on that same stage(playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz). Everything comes together in a matter of seconds in moments like that. However, the moment where it really came together was when we got to St. Anns. As I walked into the parish hall, my reception was similar to a surprise party...or new years...or both. They've been counting down the days...they've been making signs...they've been on the brink of bursting at the seams of their uniforms...as have I. I'm not sure that there has ever been more support in one room. Although they are all in their uniforms(with the exception of the ones in the Mallory Ervin Miss Kentucky 2009 T Shirts) they are far from the same. There is an amazing sense of individuality still present at my old school, but a rare form of it, it's mixed right in there with an underlying equality. Fifteen years ago, as a frizzy headed little shrimp tomboy, I took hold both of these things and ran with them. They are among the many gifts I was given that have powered my passions beyond those white walls. Those same walls now fence in ten of my boy cousins(whom I made come onto the stage with me and reenact the top five crowning moment). I can only do it to my them. The youngest of the 23, Paxton, a 1st grader there, thinks he is also my boyfriend. He wears a king crown at all time because he says that he is now the king of Kentucky...and he is.
The other schools this week were also filled with 'moments'...a little boy raised his hand with tears in his eyes and said, "Miss Kentucky...when you sang, it sounded so beautiful, it made me cry." Of course it moved me to tears, but I was quickly brought back to the real world when I was asked the dreaded, "Did you have to dye your hair blonde to win?" question. They keep me on my toes. Other notable events included mock interviews in Nashville(work outs, etc), a lunch at Cracker Barrel where I signed autographs for over an hour, a visit to the Earl C. Clements Job Corps(where I made some pretty awesome new friends who quickly warmed up to me and let me know that they've forever 'got my back' and that I have vocally made it, as they jumped to their feet in the middle of my song and began yelling 'you did that!'...in case you didn't know, that is the highest achievable compliment.) I also visited the WONDERFUL Home of the Innocents in Louisville for a day. You wouldn't believe the extent of the services and facilities it offers to help better the lives of any child with a little bit of a harder way to go in life...wings for the medically disabled, autism programs, teen pregnancy centers, a place for children to live who are tossed around by the system or neglected in their own homes, among so many others. We should be so proud to have Mr. Gordon Brown and his team of the kindest men and women in the state doing what they do. It is our duty to help those with less or with nothing at all, The Home of the Innocents have made this not only their responsibility, but their joy. I can't wait to go back.
I'm leaving things out, but my lazy eye has taken over and I am craving chocolate, so I must head to bed. But to you, thank you for reading. Thank you for your messages and encouragement. Thank you for your pride. And thank you for reminding me the reason why I have been put on this earth...every single day.
P.S...I do have three Christmas trees up at the moment...I am completely overwhelmed with 'reasons for the season' this year and Christmas is going to be intense...
P.S.S...Alden, I promise I will call you back very soon...