Sep. 25, 2020

SMILE... YOU'RE ON THE RADIO!

In 1983, I developed a flawless plan to save my dying hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Determined to PUT THE STEAM-- OF THE 819-- BACK IN PINE BLUFF, I entered the 1984 Mayor’s Race. Based on Arkansas's long history as a Democratic stronghold, I had very-little chance of winning but….I never walk-away from a fight.

Today, the town is dead.  Sure, there’s still some talk about “saving” Main Street or the Saenger Theater or a historic hotel but….”words without actions” are the basic reasons the town died from the beginning.  I don’t waste time thinking about “what could have been”. For years, I'd experienced the town's slow, painful death; I felt confident about the simple ingredients needed for it's survival but...that's another book.

Four years ago, when I wrote my first-book, I revealed a few of the telling-events, nasty people, and frustrating emotions I experienced while trying to save a town from arrogant, self-centered residents.

I've since- learned that laughter “lightens” my load when struggling with difficult memories.

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“About eight years ago, I connected with one of my daughter’s friends on Social Media.  She messaged me saying:

“In 1984, when you ran for Mayor of Pine Bluff, my grandmother was absolutely infuriated when your ex-husband’s family took out a full-page Ad in the paper supporting your opponent.  She also told everyone how disgraceful and disrespectful she thought it was when they called you a lesbian. It really boiled her blood! She voted for you, by the way.”

Sometime during the Mayoral Race, phone calls to my campaign headquarters, questioning volunteers about my sexual preference, became more and more frequent. It didn’t take a political analyst to know who was fanning the rumor flames. There was no doubt who was trying to discredit me, destroy my reputation, and attack my character. Between my ex-husband, his family, the Clintons, and the Democratic Party, the opposition had an organized team of haters—all determined to bring me down.

The day I was forced to stand on the steps of Pine Bluff’s Convention Center and declare “I’m not a Lesbian”… was a difficult day. My parents were the only people standing with me; my volunteers and supporters stayed far away.

To my knowledge… no beauty queen in the history of Arkansas politics-- ever uttered the word “Lesbian” in public and certainly-not in a press conference. I issued my statement--late morning—to only two reporters yet, by that evening, every radio and TV station in Arkansas carried my press conference as the 6 p.m. news’ ---lead story.

Several months later, I appeared on a popular talk-radio show. The call-in lines were packed with people wanting to express themselves...some in-support of my run for Mayor; others denouncing me or challenging me; still others were anxious to bombard me with questions.

 I wasn’t surprised when an older-sounding woman called to chastise me for daring to discuss the word....Lesbian. She proudly announced she had contacted the Miss Arkansas Committee to “report” me and demand they “take-back” my crown and my title.

After sufficiently beating-me-up with harsh words and threats, the older woman seemed satisfied and was about to hang-up when she remembered a question she wanted to ask. These were her exact words: “Not that I’m really interested but I am curious.  How in the world can two women with the same body parts, have sex? Most particularly, how can the two of you have an ORGANISM?”

Trying to be respectful yet not laugh, I said “Ma’am, as I told you before, I am not a Lesbian. I have no idea how Lesbians perform sexually but, as a heterosexual, I am familiar with the word “ORGASM”.  What I find confusing is—not even ONCE in my life—have I heard of ANYONE having an ORGANISM. Please, tell me what I’m missing?!?!” The older woman screamed out-loud and hung up the phone.

The show host, overcome with laughter, quickly went to a commercial….while I... just kept smiling.