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During her junior year, when the speech team performed the balcony scene from at the University Interscholastic League competition, Betty played the doomed, lovesick heroine.
But as desperately as she wanted to propel herself out of Odessa, she was fatalistic about the future.
She made no secret of the fact that she was not a prude and that she was willing to prove it.
She loved the thrill of the spotlight and was gifted enough that she landed parts in three school plays when she was just a sophomore.
“There are people willing to be my friends, but mostly they [are] either too ignorant to understand why I’m like I am, and consequently offer my mind no challenge; or they haven’t the wits to match mine.” At the top of Odessa High School’s rigid social hierarchy were the “cashmere girls,” as one alumna called them—the girls with perfect complexions from West Odessa’s better neighborhoods who were perennially voted most popular, best personality, and class favorite.
At football games, they sat in the stands wearing the ultimate status symbol: their boyfriends’ letter jackets.
The oldest of four children, she knew that her parents could not afford to send her away to college, and her part-time job at Woolworth’s barely paid enough to finance any kind of getaway.
While she aspired to one day appear on the Broadway stage, in the meantime she planned to live at home after graduation and attend Odessa College, just up the street.