Donna Louise here. All I have to say at this point in life is, I’m out of shape for judging beauty contests even when the contestants have reached their 80s. I slept most of yesterday still recalling the various events of the long weekend. The contestants for Mr. & Ms. Nursing Home Patient of Greater Milwaukee had prepared for the competition for months, much of the time spent memorizing song lyrics for the talent show.
I arrive in Milwaukee at Mitchell Airport, named after Billy Mitchell who, despite the derision of other military people, fought for the airplanes as the military machines of the future. He was alive in the early part of the 20th century when warfare had not taken to the air as it did later. It’s a nice airport and I’m sure Billy would be proud.
Clyde McClelland, administrator of Heaven-Bound Convalescent Center (not it’s real name for privacy reasons), met me at the airport and carried my three bags. (Always bring lots of outfits to a beauty pageant. You never know what you will need to have on hand.) Poor Mr. McClelland, I thought he’d die before he got all the bags in the van. A lovely man, who resembled a summer sausage stuffed into too tight a casing, he turned a bright red and huffed and puffed. “Young lady, what’ve you got in these bags? Rocks?”
I laughed. Who carries rocks in their bags? Then again, Mama did at times, especially when she went on trips to national parks. When she came back from the Southwest one time, her baggage contained nothing but rocks. I told her to quit taking rocks because it was against the law. I made her feel so guilty that she mailed some back to the places where they came from.
I have always wondered what the people at the national parks did when they received the rocks. Did they take them outside and throw them back into the rocky wilderness?
Mama washed and dried each rock she mailed back. She reasoned they could fingerprint them and identify her. She even wore latex gloves when she prepared the packages for mailing.
She caused quite a stir at the post office one day when she mailed several packages while wearing her latex gloves. One of the postal workers asked her why she had on gloves. She said, “My hands are allergic to brown wrapping paper.”
He said, “You don’t have a return address on these boxes. Is there a reason?”
“I don’t want them back?”
“There has to be a return address.” He handed them back to her.
She went to the lobby and put the return address of a woman she didn’t like and then mailed them. She felt really guilty when the FBI visited that woman to question her about mailing rocks through the U.S. Postal Service.
“I don’t know what they were so upset about. I paid the postage on all the boxes. I hear it scared the hell out of her. She’s an awful woman, but I do feel bad that the men in black visited her. Hee, hee.” Mama had a mean streak in her.
Clyde, as he insisted I call him took me on a driving tour of Milwaukee which is a lovely city, more so when there’s not two feet of snow on the ground. We drove down to Lake Michigan to see the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum. My favorite is the Quadracci Pavilion (I hope I spelled that first word right) by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The top of the pavilion rise and fall twice daily like a giant gull is flapping its wings in slow motion. Breathtakingly beautiful against a bluish-gray winter sky.
Clyde took me to the Smoke Shack for barbecue knowing that we’re famous for barbecue in Kansas City. The meat was a little too fatty for my taste, but the flavor was excellent and the Kansas City sauce was like the ones I’m used to. I pronounced myself stuffed and ready for a nap, but he drove around and around the city until it began to look like any metropolitan area anywhere in the country where it snows a lot.
Finally he took me to my room at the assisted living facility at the Heaven-Bound Convalescent Center. A lovely room with all the conveniences one might need for assisted living. I met my fellow judges, Bernice Bethelhooper and Clifton VanPeeler, both former administrators of out-of-state nursing facilities.
I took a quick nap before the meet-and-greet which was being held in the conference room and dining area at the facility. The actual contest would take place at a hotel which I cannot name because they told me they would sue. So it will be known as The Pissy Hotel from here on out.
Tomorrow: the meet-and-greet and the first day of the competition.