Monday, January 26, 2009

Hometown award elusive


CELIA RIVENBARK


Loyal readers know that I was born and raised in a small town in a very rural county in southeastern North Carolina. Duplin County is an agricultural county, home to miles of chicken houses, turkey farms, hog parlors and some people. It has a picturesque county seat with a courthouse square, a popular winery, an amphitheater and a collection of small towns, one of which is this close to getting a Super Wal-Mart.

It's a great place to grow up, the kind of county where everybody knows everybody and, where, in one small town, everybody knows the local doctor doesn't believe in Daylight Savings Time so they show up at 2:00 for a "1:00 appointment." Small-town quirks give Duplin County its abundant charm.

It's also home of the world's largest frying pan. When I was younger, we'd attend chicken-fry fundraisers and the Lions Club volunteers had to turn the chickens with pitchforks because the pan was so huge. I covered the opening of the county's very first McDonald's and gave the mayor his own framed photograph of the event.

To say that I am nostalgic and appreciative of my rural upbringing in general and Duplin County in particular would be to seriously understate the situation.

Which is why it hurts to the quick, my hons, that I am going on 12 years of unsuccessful application to the Duplin County Hall of Fame.

Stop laughing; I'm serious.

My husband nominated me 12 years ago and each year, along about this time, I receive a very nice form letter telling me that "all nominees are deserving of the honor and recognition of receiving the award, for they have contributed in a significant manner to the growth, development and well-being of Duplin County, North Carolina, the United States and/or the world and its people."

OK, maybe I am really not deserving of being considered. After all, I can't honestly say writing a humor column or a few books has helped the well-being of the "world and its people."

I'm like a fat and much younger Susan Lucci, except that even she eventually got her Emmy. Because there are actually two Hall of Fame recipients announced each year - one living and one deceased - I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to have to die to win this thing. I've got my pride: If they pick me posthumously, I won't show up to accept it or to enjoy the much ballyhooed "nice steak dinner."

There are many more deserving recipients, that much is obvious. But, frankly, I was hoping that, by now, sheer population numbers would ensure that I'd have a shot. They're going to run out of people before I win this thing. If I lose to a chicken, somebody's gonna die.

In the meantime, I'll watch the mailbox every October, sulk a bit and continue to work on my new book: "Duplin County: Gateway to Pender County." Or something like that.

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