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Queen For A Day...
01-Jun-2006 | Ron Pickrell

Posted on 06/01/2006 6:27:42 PM PDT by pickrell

In the intro, the announcer would inquire, "Would YOU like to be Queen-For-A-Day??!!"

And the audience would, on cue, go mad with cheering. The rules had yet to be written for daytime television, and the pioneers were testing the waters. Simple quiz shows were becoming passe, yet laundry detergent still needed to be sold; preferably by the bargeload, to ever-widening audiences. A new hook had to be dropped into the pond.

The MC of the new show, the man with the microphone, over the course of the half hour would walk among the audience, and prompt a succession of older ladies to share their sad tales of staggering hardship, woe and despair... with the audience and the viewing public across the whole country. To be adjudged the winner, she had to relate a tale of such overwhelming loss and pain that the cameraman actually had to stop, to wipe the electronic tears from the camera lens. Some were truly creative. A few even proved to be entertaining.

"Yes, it was last February. My husband had just been laid off from work, and was coming home on the last gallon of gas. He swerved to avoid hitting the duck, and since the tires are all bald, crashed the family car into the tort lawyers' offices. Soon after, we were also assessed for the new sewer line, th' day after the front lawn collapsed into the septic tank. Then, Johnny caught a fishhook in his ear, and little Billy made it worse by skillfully playing him for an hour before landing him. A grenade went off in my sister's hand at the munitions factory, and we had to spend extra money to buy her just the left glove. I don't mind the diagnosis of rabies, but it is aggravating my heartbreak of psoriasis, and right before my women's correctional facility re-union, to boot." She wiped a grey tear from a grey eye, under an enormous plastic-fruit-laden hat.

My father slowly shook his head as he swept the ceiling with his eyes, "This is NOT a good innovation."

"Oh come on, dear," my mother argued, "after all- what does it hurt? Game shows are the wave of the future and should help educate the audience-"

"Educate the audience? Educate the audience?" My father's face reddened, as his forehead came down to rest on his fingertips. With eyes closed, he breathed, "We will be teaching our kids that the way to achieve security for your family is not to work hard, spend your money carefully, and teach your children all of those basic lessons necessary not to be taken advantage of, nor to take advantage of others. Rather, you just come up with the most hare-brained and preposterous reasons why you should be given cash. We'll become a nation of supplicants- you wait and see.

"At least," a warning eye hovered my way, as he grumbled, "those kids will, who don't do their homework the best they can, and won't stop scribbling illegible answers, just so's they can race down to watch this electronic Svengali."

He continued shaking his head, "I can see the day coming when people disdain career, in favor of waiting for that one big score. 'Spin that wheel, get on T.V. and cash in'. The days of whining and roses. Honey, I think this could be the infancy of a bad thing."

Mother laughed, "You're being a little too reactive, again, dear. It's just a television show! It won't undermine people's sense of thrift and work. People love to see the underdog win big! Besides, it will get better. After all, people certainly would never go in front of nationwide cameras to tell all of their really embarrassing stuff. They'll keep their dignity, after all."

"Maybe so. Maybe you're right," he agreed doubtfully. "But the older men, while I was growing up, used to always say that...'It don't matter how much you make, as long as it's honest, and you spend it carefully. You wait until you can afford things- you forget what shysters tell you you just gotta have!, or that you're missin' out if you don't buy now! We would sit around the radio, at the filling station, after the work was done, and listen to 'em talk about the hard lessons they had all learned. That money was only of any use if you used it for the ones you loved- but that it wouldn't be there, then, when you needed it badly, if you'd previously bought that shiny new do-dad on credit. And it sure wouldn't be there if you hadn't bothered to go to work that week."

"Seems to me, dear," mother disagreed carefully, "that credit doesn't have to be a bad thing, and that a windfall can sure make a difference."

"True," he glanced around at us kids out of the corner of his eye to see how carefully he had to choose his next words, "a fish may just jump in your boat and stay for supper. So why save your money to buy a pole and reel, and learn how to use it? But a far surer way to feed your family is to do exactly what the old man Humphreys expects of you, without his havin' to go down to the plant and ask you all the time, or babysit you all day. It's amazing how the pay raises just serendipitously happen out of the blue... when you work hard when nobody's watching."

He took a long pull from the mason jar full of ice water. "What taps on my worry door, is that a lot of us are doing better now, and that the 1960's will be here before we know it. We'll maybe be able to afford to send kids to college, now, where that was nothing but a pipe dream back before the war."

Glaring my way, he amended, "Of course certain sons may yet just get sold to the Arabs, so's not to throw good money after bad..."

I did my best 'Ralphie' smile, several decades before "A Christmas Story" would even be written. At least he'd given up on last week's idea of trading me in for "a coil of left-handed rope", whatever that was.

"Anyway," he continued, "what will we have, if once we finally get them in college, they've gotten the idea that money isn't worked for and earned, but rather all some lottery that some win and some lose? They'll be tempted to swallow that socialist garbage, and do a 'French Revolution' on those of us who worked hard to get them there."

"Oh, come on, honey. Don't you think that's a bit of a stretch?"

"No, I don't," he countered. "Kids learn. Kids watch. Sure it's preposterous that a time would ever come where people will regularly humiliate themselves, just to get in front of a camera. And I know that this sock hop, cramming everybody into the car silliness gives way to serious thought as they mature. But it won't take many kids, funded by rich parents, with all of the recklessness born of hearing just one side of any story, to begin to corrode others. I've already heard a couple guys at work, talking about how their kids want to begin 'righting wrongs'! There's a professor or two, who's behind all this, you mark my words, telling 'em what's 'wrong'!"

It seemed that the time had come. I was overdue to finally inject my seven years worth of accumulated wisdom into an actual adult conversation, now that I was wearing long pants. Occasionally. A couple of times, anyway. When going to Mass on Sunday, certainly. "I'd sure like to win a pile of money," I nodded somberly, though I had no clue as to what I could do with it. But since everyone on TV was cheering, it must be useful in some fashion. Greeny stickum caps, for one.

A long sigh drifted from the overstuffed chair. The pause held for a few moments, until, "Then find something that people need, when you grow up. Learn to build something or fix something useful. Find something that you love to do and get good at it. And learn to do it not for the money, but because you find that it makes you proud to do it well. The money will follow, and people will nod at you later, on the street, thinking 'He does good work.'...."

As usual, mother swung round to his point of view, and smiled not unkindly at me as I lay on the carpet near the new television with the round, 7 inch screen. "If you do all of that, dear, you'll have hit a jackpot which doesn't ever end."

As if on cue, the music swelled on the T.V., and the proto-game-show-host presented the lucky winner with an enormous bouquet of roses. Matching porcelain cooking and cleaning appliances were showered upon her, (though fortunately, not physically. After all, she had enough problems with the rabies and such...)

The showering apparently entailed extolling, at great length for the viewing audience, upon the luxurious features of the new stove, fishing for that thoughtful remembrance later, when a thousand ovens across America eventually breathed their last.

Finally the crown was placed on her head, and the newest Queen For A Day was marched through the audience, with great pageantry, to her presumed throne... somewhere offstage.

"I'd still like to win a pot of money, then I wouldn't have to do anything..." The problem with parents is that they see little untested seeds planted, and wonder what they are likely to sprout into. Camels flapping their noses against, or underneath tents, or something like that, and reaping what they've sewn.

Even I knew that camels can't sew! After all, they couldn't thread the needles...

TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: education; lottery; winningbig

1 posted on 06/01/2006 6:27:45 PM PDT by pickrell
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To: pickrell

Very witty :)

2 posted on 06/01/2006 6:42:57 PM PDT by coydog (Cowardice does not make you safe. It makes you a safe target. - - Dale Amon)
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To: pickrell
"Kids learn. Kids watch. Sure it's preposterous that a time would ever come where people will regularly humiliate themselves, just to get in front of a camera.

I was a kid when Queen for a Day was a big thing. Even then, I was embarrassed by it. The current "reality TV" shows are just as silly.

3 posted on 06/01/2006 6:54:48 PM PDT by DejaJude (Admiral Clark said, "Our mantra today is life, liberty and the pursuit of those who threaten it!")
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To: pickrell
I remember it well. Good piece.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

4 posted on 06/01/2006 7:26:19 PM PDT by randita
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To: DejaJude
It had to be the original "reality" show and every bit as grotesque as the current crop.

I once met someone whose aunt appeared as a contestant. Among other "issues," she was the abused wife of an alcoholic. She went on to win the "crown," and hubby sold all her prizes and kept the proceeds.

5 posted on 06/01/2006 8:10:11 PM PDT by LNewman (¡Atención La Migra! ¡Huge Underserved Population Aquí!)
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To: pickrell

LOL.....I remember QUEEN for a DAY! Maybe that's why I have never watched today's Reality shows....

6 posted on 06/01/2006 8:29:11 PM PDT by goodnesswins ( "the left can only take power through deception." (and it seems Hillary & Company are the masters)
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To: LNewman; goodnesswins
"...I once met someone whose aunt appeared as a contestant. Among other "issues," she was the abused wife of an alcoholic. She went on to win the "crown," and hubby sold all her prizes and kept the proceeds..."

It never fails, when I am writing a cynical allegory, that reality catches up to me, with the true story you related above, and shows me that I'm still not cynical enough!

I suppose I should go on Mauri Povich and just confess to it all.

Thanks for the reply! :-)

7 posted on 06/01/2006 8:42:30 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

Hey, if it wasn't for Queen-for-a-Day showcasing all those new fangled automatic washing machines that came with a box of soap in the tub, my Mom wouldn't have known which one was worth buying!

Not that I cared, I was too busy making sure I had enough paper roll caps for my plastic 6-shooter; cause after Sky King, The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Burp, Lassie (and probably more that I forgot,) TV shows were finished on Saturday morning, we went out with cap guns, holstered, fake pearl handled, side arms and played at shooting stuff, in Queens, NY. Outside! In the grass. Until it got dark!

Ah, the 50's! :-)

8 posted on 06/01/2006 9:07:09 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1
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To: JoeSixPack1
Oooh! I loved Sky King and you forgot Hoppy ... king of the merchandise cowboys!

9 posted on 06/01/2006 9:31:34 PM PDT by LNewman
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To: LNewman

I knew I was gonna miss some of the best!
Hop-Along Cassidy & Roy Rogers Too! :-)

10 posted on 06/01/2006 9:37:07 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1
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To: randita
How in the world... did you get those excellent pictures of Queen for a Day?

You veterans here seem to have the entire Library of Congress on your hard disks!

Thanks again for posting the pics. Until then, I had to rely on more than 40 year old memories!

11 posted on 06/01/2006 9:56:27 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

To answer your question, I just did a Google search for "queen for a day photographs", pulled them off the websites that resulted and onto my clipboard, uploaded them to my Photobucket web page, then sent them to FR. Didn't really take long at all.

12 posted on 06/02/2006 5:45:28 AM PDT by randita
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To: randita
You guys that are good at such things make it sound easy. Us guys who count on our wives to fix the latest computer glitch can only look on in wonder!

Have a good weekend! :-)

13 posted on 06/02/2006 2:00:59 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

It's a lot easier than you think. Here is a primer:

1. Go to and create an account - it's free.
2. Choose a picture you like from the web, click on it and drag it to your desktop or highlight it and do the copy/paste routine. You should see a file with a .jpg after it sitting on your desktop. That's the picture.
3. Go to photobucket, log in and you'll get a window with a box that says "Choose File". Click on "Choose File" and you'll get a window listing the contents of your desktop. Click on the file of the .jpg picture. Then choose "Submit" from the photobucket window. Voila - your picture will be uploaded to the web to your photobucket album and and automatically given an HTML "Tag". You'll see the tag under the picture in your photobucket album.
4. To get the picture to FR, just copy the "Tag" and paste it into a Reply window.
5. You're an instant genius because your picture will appear on FR perfectly.
6. If you want, you can type text above or below the "Tag". If you type it above the Tag and want a space between your text and the picture, just type < p > (without the spaces before and after the "p" - that's HTML for new paragraph so it will skip a line for you.
7. Try it - it's LOTS of fun. And if all else fails, ask your wife to help you with it. LOL

14 posted on 06/02/2006 4:25:22 PM PDT by randita
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To: randita
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It works. Unbelievable! I am in your debt, randita.

World, watch out now...

15 posted on 06/02/2006 6:21:35 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell

This is just great!

16 posted on 06/02/2006 6:24:20 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: ladyinred; randita
"...This is just great!..."

It's all the fault of guys like Randita. They teach us old codgers this cool new HTML stuff, and we try it out in ever more off-the-wall stories that we post!

Thanks for the comment.

17 posted on 06/02/2006 7:02:14 PM PDT by pickrell (Old dog, new trick...sort of)
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To: pickrell
Yeah - you did it! I knew you could.

Now you need to teach someone else how to do it.

Have tons of fun.

18 posted on 06/02/2006 7:03:54 PM PDT by randita
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