Yep, you read that title right. And I am of sound and sober mind as I type this.
Over the past three decades, I haven’t had much occasion to talk about this little piece of my past that doesn’t really fit with how I’ve ever thought of myself, but here goes…
I am a former Homecoming Queen.
The year was 1979, and by some fluke or fate or dumb luck, my peers at St. Pius X voted me Queen. It was a surprise and an honor.
But then I found myself, the following summer, automatically in the running for the title of Pottstown’s 4th of July Homecoming Queen. I believe the`system in place then is also in place today: if you put a penny into a candidate’s jar in various locations around town, she got another vote.
And that’s where my royal reign came to a definitive end. As we edged closer to July 4th, it was clear that I didn’t stand a chance. Recently, in the course of doing some research in the Pottstown Library, I looked up The Mercury’s coverage of the big day. Here’s how things shook out:
Kenya Heller – Owen J. Roberts – 87,482
Pam Walter – Pottstown – 46,764
Bernadette Diaz – Pottsgrove – 40,003
Susan Repko – St. Pius X – 6,420
I’ve double-checked my reading glasses and my typing and, no, there are no mistakes in those figures.
But that’s just one aspect of the story, albeit a humbling one. I’ll never forget how we were all treated to lunch at Lakeside Inn. And I’ll never forget riding in a convertible down High Street during the parade, perched on the back of the back seat, waving to the crowd. I shared the car with Bernie Diaz, who had been a good friend of mine in grade school at St. Al’s for a short time and who went on to play tennis at Boston College. And the fireworks were incredible.
I believe 1980 was the second year of Pottstown’s Fourth of July Homecoming Celebration, which now attracts thousands. Times are tough for people, businesses and government, but I hope we can hold on a little bit longer and find the funds to keep this tradition, one of Pottstown’s finest, going strong. In honor of all those people who put their pennies in for me all those years ago, I’m sending in $64.20. For those of you who plan to come to town to take part in this year’s celebration, or those of you who can’t make it but hold a special memory of Pottstown’s 4th in your heart, please send in a donation now. Pulling together, we can keep it going. Thank you.
Make your check payable to Independence Day, Ltd., and send to:
Pottstown School District
230 Beech St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
All donations are tax deductible.