“When you have five brothers, you’ve got to compete," said Betty. "If they jumped, I jumped higher.” My friend Kam and I were sitting with her at the kitchen table in her little stucco house, getting to know her as part of research we were doing about the people and history of Guadalupe. She brought out an array of old photographs and albums, yellowed newspaper clippings, and various artifacts and memorabilia, including her own childhood report cards.
Betty was born in Paris...Paris, Texas, that is....in 1926. Her father left for California in 1943 in search of work and was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in Guadalupe. The family joined him in June, 1944, traveling west by train, and Betty promptly found a job in the payroll office of a produce packing company called the California Vegetable Growers. That same year she joined The Rock-etts, Guadalupe's champion all-girls' softball team. (She is standing, second from the left, in the photo above.) Betty met her future husband, Everett, also a softball player, at one of the games, and they married in 1945.
But when I asked her if she had any special softball memories, her eyes filled with tears. “When I was in third grade,” she said, “my daddy came to one of the games at my grammar school to watch me play.”
Isn't it funny, what ends up mattering so much? (Take note.)
Betty's love for softball had started in earnest that year, and she remembers feeling important and encouraged that her father, a busy, proud, hardworking man, had shown his support in this way.
"We didn't have money," said Betty, "but we had each other, and we learned what was important. Caring about people. Taking care of people."
Betty’s husband Everett worked for the California Vegetable Growers also, driving a long-line truck to Los Angeles. After their two children were born, Betty took on other jobs, including a 15-year stint as a clerk and bookkeeper in the hardware store. Everett passed away in 1986, but Betty managed to stay busy, married again, and has traveled all over the world.
I was touched by Betty's kindness, patience, and willingness to share, although I think that's just the way she tries to live her life. In fact, she showed us an old Quaker motto that was tucked into her scrapbook, and said it sums up everything: