Betty tells her favorite holiday story in the chapter USO and the Sprig. During the Second World War many families, including the Clark family, opened their homes to service men and women during the holidays.
Chapter 4 "........A couple of years into the war, I was serving coffee and donuts at the USO and a young man came into the through the line and said, “Hi, Betty. You might not remember me, but I was at your house for Christmas two years ago. I am home on leave for a couple of weeks now, and I am so glad to run into you here again. I have something I want to show you.” He placed a little, dried sprig from a pine tree in my hand. “I snapped it off the beautiful Christmas tree at your house and put it in my wallet to remind me of home and the wonderful afternoon I had at your house. It has been with me though some really tough times in this war, and when I thought I could not stand one more minute, I would take it out and hold it. This little bit of your Christmas tree has given me such comfort in the times I needed it most. So I hope you don’t mind that I broke off this little bit from your tree. I am really glad I found you here today because I wanted to thank you and your family for sharing your home and your hearts. ”
I was so touched by his story that tears filled my eyes. I handed him back the sprig, and he put it back in his wallet. I gave him a hug, and he moved down the line, leaving me with a wonderful memory that would last a lifetime."
Chapter 2 ".........Word got around about a little blond girl with braces on her legs who could belt out a song, and a Los Angeles radio station invited me to perform live on one of their shows. What a thrill! It was there that I met the Beverly Hill Billies.
This was many years before television became a household fixture, so the Beverly Hill Billies I knew were not from the 1960s Beverly Hillbillies, the TV series most people are aware of. These Hill Billies were a popular country band of the 1920s and ’30s that tried to convince people they were real hillbillies that had come down from a remote area of the mountains surrounding Beverly Hills. The members included Tom Murray, Ashley “Jad” Scraggins, Shug Fisher, Norman Hedges, Chuck Cook, and Len Dossey. Their theme song was “Red River Valley.” "
Author's Note: During one of my writing sessions with Betty she mentioned the "original" Hill Billies. I researched the group and the individual members but could never could find much information. Recently, I put together <Hill Billies+Red River Valley> and BINGO! This YouTube clip came up of the Hill Billies as they appeared in the 1937 film "Tex Rides with the Boy Scouts."
Joanna Rivera Stark
Chapter 5 "On Saturday nights, after volunteering at the USO, my girlfriends and I would go home and change into our dancing shoes and head straight for the Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
The Art Deco Palladium opened in 1940 with Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Band in a ballroom that could hold four thousand people. During the war years, radio broadcasts from the Palladium featured Hollywood stars who took song requests from servicemen and women. Those broadcasts increased the popularity of the Saturday-night dances there, and the ballroom was the most exciting place to be in all of Southern California. It was a great escape, if only briefly, from the terrible news from the war’s front lines...."
Chapter 11 "One of our favorite places was the Bob Burns Supper Club off Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica......On our first visit, we realized it was a piano bar and the man at the piano had a wonderful voice........Howlett instantly became our friend. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he had quite an impressive background...... He is a prolific songwriter, vocal and piano coach, whistler, and choir director. He has been involved in radio, TV, and films and was the music director of the Broadway show, Me and Bessie, as well as having a recurring role on General Hospital. His songs “Let’s Go Where the Grass Is Greener,” “Little Altar Boy,” and “It’s the Last Day of Summer” were some of our favorites. Howlett was listed in Los Angeles magazine as one of the Three Hundred Reasons to Stay in Los Angeles, and he was the reason we kept going back to the Bob Burns Supper Club."
Chapter 3 "Every weekday morning, my mother would wake me, make a lunch, and help me get ready for the day. Then the two of us would walk to the bus stop to catch a ride to the streetcar line. We would get off the bus and wait for the streetcar that would deliver us very close to my new school. Once my mother dropped me off, she would board a returning streetcar, then a bus, and walk from the bus stop home. In the afternoon, she reversed the process and arrived just as school was letting out.
On one occasion, as we arrived at school, my mother realized she had forgotten my lunchbox, which left me with nothing to eat during the day. She dutifully returned home, picked up my lunch, turned around, and got right back on the bus and then the streetcar to deliver the box to me. Then she went home again until she made the trip once again to pick me up from school. That day she spent nearly six hours on buses and streetcars. She never forgot my lunch again, and I have never forgotten her endless devotion."
Betty spoke often of her mother's love and devotion. Bela (bee la) was tireless in her efforts to see that Betty had the best health care and all the opportunities that other children were afforded. We salute Bela Clark for the incredible mother that she was.