1:05 p.m. - 2004-08-15
If, for those who have read it, you thought my first 15 minutes of fame was kind of interesting then you might find this one intriguing too!
Having been born into a family a little later in the parents life (brothers are 12 and 14 years older than I am) I was at the mercy of the parents whims and fancies. My brothers had long since fled the coop, and my parents felt it easier to up-root me and follow they’re own dreams. Or more aptly – my dad’s dreams. We moved when I was 10 (Grade 5), then again when I was 14 (Grade 8). Very difficult ages to drastically move for kids, but they (the parents) were tired of tagging after what kids needed and felt it was their turn.
With this second move, I was taken out of school at a time when I was just getting my grades up and steady. In grade 8 , I’d seen my first ‘A’ ever, usually I was pleased to get a C+. Not only was I being extricated from school (I hated), marks showing improvement, but also a province I loved. We were plunked down into a small town in the foothills of Alberta (population 1,500).
One other thing – in the province I’d left, grade 8 was the last year in elementary school. In Alberta, grad 8 was the middle grade if Junior High. So I’d gone from jumping rope at recess to hair and makeup discussions, a huge adjustment at a heinous time in a teenagers life. (I won’t go into the fact we’d moved to a farm with no in-door plumbing)
The one Godsend that catapulted me into adjusting, and self esteem was that we were smack dab in the middle of cowboy country. And as all young girls know that if you’re in cowboy country then horses can’t be far away.
My pony’s name was “Rocky” and we bought him from a local rancher for $200 – a real steal. I poured all the love I had into this hoofed wonder. I so desperately needed something to love to survive a difficult home life. With the introduction of Rocky into my life, also came the world of rodeo’s and barrel racing.
I was strictly the amateur route, but it was a great time.
Each year in this small western town the July 1st long weekend brought the towns Big Rodeo to start off the summer. A big part of this weekend was crowning the new “Rodeo Queen”, a competition that had been running for two months prior. During a lapse from bad self-esteem I took the bull by the horns and decided to run. I don’t know what I was thinking, other than (at 17) this was my last chance to give it a shot, and it could prove to be quite fun.
I was right, it was loads of fun. Three other of my classmates also decided to run. Once made official (the competition started in May) we were judged on 4 different areas: Poise and manners, horsemanship, public speaking, and ticket sales.
I think I enjoyed selling tickets the most. I would go out each evening to different neighbourhoods around town and start knocking on doors. My next favourite part was the horsemanship, where we were all taken to a local horse Gymkana and judged on our riding abilities and knowledge of horse and riding equipment.
Side note: Rocky was too much of a pony to use for any of these events, but a kind friend lent me their trusty mount “Lady”, a beautiful Appaloosa mare.
Well the final day of competition came and a huge street dance was the place of unveiling. The four of us were quite nervous. There were no bitter feelings between us (that I can remember), and we waited with baited breath. The announcer started the evening by stating that they would announce the runners up in no particular order. Then crown the remaining young lady with the title “1979 Rodeo Queen”.
You could have cut the air with a knife as he held a pregnant pause before announcing the first of the runner-ups . . . .
“Our first runner up is . . . . Mugwhump!!” The crowds cheered and clapped loudly. I was crushed, but put on a smiling, teary face and head towards the platform to receive my handshake and bouquet of white carnations. The next two names were called leaving “The Red Head” to be called forward to be crowned and handed her bouquet of roses.
The rest of the evening went by in a blur. We had all worked so hard for this one day. I was pulled aside told later that evening that I had, in fact, placed 1st Runner up. That in the absence of the “Queen”, or her inability to fulfill her role as reigning Rodeo Queen that I would fill in. Small victory, but it helped to cheer me up substantially. The four of us stuck together for the rest of the weekend for a variety of special events, and of course to be the in the big parade the next day.
Summer came and went. School started up again in September and “The Red Head” had never returned from her summer in Kelowna, and was assumed not to.
Here’s the cool part. On December 22nd I was asked to step into my old role of Rodeo Princes for the ribbon cutting of our new fire hall. To my great surprise it was announced that “Queen Red Head” had relinquished her position as “1979 Rodeo Queen” (due to her inability to follow through with her commitments), and I was crowned “1979/80 Rodeo Queen”.
I was then expected to be the representative of the town until the next year’s competition. I accepted gladly, and the following few months were a whirlwind of ribbon cuttings (always accompanied by the Mayor) for the new grocery store, the new clothing store, a fashion show, and some draws held around town. Culminating in July when I passed my crown on to the next Rodeo Queen successor.
So you see, I have had two “15 minutes” with which to claim my infamy. I still keep my crown (a different one was passed on) in a special place, and occasionally I bring out the old photo album and reminisce. If I can find a picture that might be suitable to post here – I will when I get back to work tomorrow. So stay tuned and you might get a further glimpse into the world of Mugwhump.
Cheers - LJ