Forty-eight years ago, Betsy Cadenhead was a young woman dressed in red, white and blue.
Betsy had taken dance classes when she was a young girl, learning ballroom, waltz and fox trot dances.
Betsy, originally from Henderson, was persuaded to try out for the World Famous Kilgore College Rangerettes by the influence of her friends.
“All my friends were trying out, so I went, ‘Me too, me too!’ “Betsy said. “Hardest work I’ve ever done in my life.”
She was under the direction of the creator of the Rangerettes, Miss Gussie Nell Davis, in the 27th line — 1966-67.
“She was tough, but she put [the Rangerettes] on the map, so she had to be tough,” Betsy said.
In the midst of a halftime performance Betsy did a “romper room no no.”
A ‘Rette in front of Betsy picked up too many flags from the managers’ arms before getting in line to go out onto the field and dropped the ones she did not need. Instead of letting the manager pick up the flags, Betsy bent over to get them.
“If something goes wrong, you go on like nothing happened, and when the girl dropped them I could have used one in the manager’s arms, but it was the last one and there were girls behind me,” Betsy said. “So I just picked them up and strutted out onto the field. [Miss Gussie Nell Davis] was very upset with me, as she would be with anyone. Drill teams aren’t supposed to make mistakes. We were supposed to be flawless and practice enough that that kind of thing doesn’t happen. With Gussie, every performance was the grand performance. It was a big deal,” Betsy said.
Betsy remembers marching in the Cotton Bowl Parade in the cold weather.
“A lot of us were purple, because we couldn’t wear tights or panty hose,” Betsy said. “I remember Sonny and Cher were in the parade. Other than freezing to death, it was fun.”
The team also traveled to Savannah, Ga. to perform in another bowl game and performed at a Houston Astros game.
“Any time I performed I was terrified,” Betsy said.
After graduating from KC she went to Texas Tech University and majored in interior design.
After graduating from Tech, one of her classmates, Jeanette, asked Betsy if she wanted to be her roommate in Houston.
Jeanette’s parents had already found an apartment and furnished it so she just needed Betsy to show up.
“All I had to do was pack my Samsonite and show up, and that is exactly what I did,” Betsy said. “I was beyond cloud nine. The term ‘reality check’ was not in my vocabulary or conscience.”
She did not own a car, have a job or know anyone besides Jeanette in Houston, yet she was bound to the city.
“I was the poster child for ‘ignorance is bliss’ combined with ‘blind faith’ and the immaturity of a naive small-town 21-year-old female,” Betsy said. “I was fearless, but my parents were scared to death.”
When she was in Houston and began looking for a job, she soon found one working in inventory control a for posh furniture store.
“We lived in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment, and I only got paid $325 a month. We were the original Laverne & Shirley,” Betsy said.
Soon Betsy found herself unhappy with the inventory job.
“It was not my cup of tea,” she said. “It was capital B-O-R-I-N-G!”
Later she worked in different furniture stores, as an interior designer, among other things before moving to New Mexico.
Her sister, Lynnda, lived in New Mexico, and her husband had a brain tumor so Betsy went for support.
In 1977, Betsy was back in Houston and on the hunt for a job. One day she was on her way to an interview for a pipe-inspecting job in the oil field when she was stopped in her tracks by a train. She only had to go over the tracks to reach her destination, but the train apparently was not going to move anytime soon.
“I knew that is one thing you are never supposed to do: Be late for a job interview,” she said.
After a little time went by, she decided to crawl under the train dressed in her dress, heels and stockings to make it to her interview on time.
“Once I was on the other side a man came up to me and asked, ‘Did you just crawl under that train?’ And as I was brushing off my dress, I said, ’No!””
She got the job and worked there for some time before moving on to her next endeavor.
Betsy also worked as a cocktail waitress, among other things before deciding to go back to school.
“After I had tried everything, I decided to give teaching a try,” Betsey said.
Teaching was something her father always told her she should do.
She attended the University of Texas at Tyler in the 1980s, earned her master’s in special education and received a teaching certificate.
Her first teaching job was at Harleton and lasted one year before she moved to Pine Tree in 1992.
While working at Pine Tree, her friend who had been trying to set her up with a friend finally accomplished her sneaky plan.
Betsy became married to Jim Cadenhead after five years of dating, and has been married for about 27 years.
Betsy also taught at Hallsville, Henderson and Marshall schools.
She retired three years ago and decided to take a photography class because of her love of art.
Betsey is planning to continue taking classes and hopes to get up the nerve to take art classes.
“I’ve always loved [KC]. It’s a special place in my heart,” she said.