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Like grandma, like granddaughter

In 1948, 17-year-old Dolores Thompson was crowned Miss Black Eagle at the South Charleston High School homecoming game.

The 2012 Miss Black Eagle is her granddaughter, 17-year-old Meredith Cain.

"It was more exciting for me to see her crowned Miss Black Eagle," said the grandmother, who is now Dolores Blackwell, 81.

Before this year's homecoming game on Oct. 5, Meredith invited her grandmother to ride in the parade with her. The two rode in a BMW convertible owned and driven by Blackwell's neighbor, Sally Slater.

"My name was on one side and hers on the other as an attendant," Blackwell said.

While that was exciting enough, Blackwell was thrilled to hear Meredith's name called as this year's Miss Black Eagle.

"I remember screaming and applauding," Blackwell said.

"I always wanted to be homecoming queen," Meredith said. "My heart was beating out of my chest. I don't remember anything but stepping up to get the crown."

However, she remembers many things she learned from her grandmother.

"She has taught me how to love family," Meredith said. "She's strong. I see that. She taught me to never give up."

Family always gathers at Blackwell's tidy Dunbar townhouse during the holidays with the aroma of fudge, muffins and cookies in the air. The fudge recipe is a secret that Meredith covets.

Blackwell was an avid walker and golfer until 2009 when she slipped on asphalt and smashed a hip. Unsuccessful surgery and excruciating pain interfered with her once active life.

In March of this year, she went to a hospital in Lexington for additional surgery and months of therapy. At first, the doctor hesitated to do such an extensive operation.

"I told him I am in good health and there are things worse than death," Blackwell said.

She is now on the mend and walking with the assistance of a cane.

"I'm grateful for where I am today," said Blackwell, who is back as an assistant teacher in computer classes at the Hansford Community Center in St. Albans.

She hopes to start volunteering in other areas soon.

"I'm busy every day," she said. "I move more slowly than I did."

Blackwell has been featured in several Daily Mail articles over the years.

On Oct. 14, 1947, she claimed the title of Miss Kanawha Majorette at the very first Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette Festival. She said her mother told her it was the orange satin uniform that made her stand out on the field among 75 high-stepping, baton twirling girls.

She was head majorette at South Charleston High and her mother made all of her uniforms.

Meredith's interests are more geared to sports such as softball and volleyball.

Meredith, a senior this year, is considering a career in pharmacy. With a 4.5 grade point average, she has her eye on Stanford University.  

Blackwell, who is a widow, is the mother of David French of North Carolina, Jean Tucker of Pennsylvania, Sandy French of Kentucky and Judy Cain of Dunbar, who is Meredith's mother. Meredith's father is Reginald Cain of South Charleston.

Blackwell has eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren with another on the way.

She is still beautiful with her silver hair and slender frame, and she has an outgoing personality.

Blackwell said Meredith is beautiful inside and out.

"She is an unusual child," the grandmother said. "She's such a good student. She never went through the terrible teen years. She is as sweet as she can be."

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.





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