Elizabeth Louise Matlock, 1924-2011

       
 
Betty was born on July 5, 1924 to Blanche Elizabeth Parkinson and John William Matlock, who already had two children, Anita and Todd. The family lived in a brown shingled house in the town of Kamiah, which was located on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Idaho.
Betty's father, a wheat farmer and grain dealer with acreage up on the Nez Perce praire, had a grain elevator in town (shown below in 1994). In the 1920s he developed a sideline in gasoline sales.
John Matlock was educated at the University of Idaho, and the family was prominent and well-to-do by Kamiah standards. Betty inherited many of the items shown in the family living room below (the wall phone, leather Idaho pillow, and Idaho pennant). Her brother got the clock, which John made himself.
Betty's mother fell on the ice in 1926, hit her head, and died later in California of complications from a subdural hematoma

The children were taken in by the paternal grandparents until John could regroup enough to raise them on his own.




Tragically, he died before this was accomplished. He was run over by a truck in 1928 while horsing around with the driver, his friend and business partner.
Betty was taken in by Herb Wattenbarger and his wife Lona, who was John's sister. Betty spent the next fifteen years as one of the Wattenbarger clan. Her older siblings, Anita and Todd, were raised by Parkinson relatives in Reedley, California.
Betty did not remember her grandmother Laura Matlock well, but she loved her grandfather Charles. The grandparents, shown below, lived with the Wattenbargers in the late 1920s and early '30s.
Betty got along well with her cousins, and she and Trula Mae, who was closest in age, played together at dolls and cars, Betty's favorite pursuits in childhood.


Betty did see her sister Anita and brother Todd once in a while, and felt emotionally attached to both throughout her life.




The family lived in many places during Betty's childhood, including Hoquiam, Chehalis, Centralia, Aberdeen, Everett, and Tacoma. Betty is in the box below, with Ella Lou Tegtmeier, her best friend during her elementary-school years in Everett, to her right. Trula is the dark-haired girl on the other side of Ella Lou.

Lona was a fundamentalist Christian and a strict disciplinarian, but she was an excellent homemaker and especially handy with a needle and thread. Betty recalled that she sewed most of the children's clothes, and probably this costume too.
Betty was a sweet child and always had lots of friends.
She also remained haunted by the loss of her parents. She hated Easter, when at church she was singled out as an orphan and made to wear a wrist corsage.
The family moved to Tacoma in about 1936, and Betty started junior high school at Jason Lee. The family acquired a dog called Happy, although Betty doesn't remember these as particularly happy years.
Herb did not lose his position during the Depression, which meant that the family was able to weather those years without feeling pinched. The only deprivation Betty recalled was an intellectual and cultural one.
No family fissure is evident here. Betty is being embraced by Lona, with Betty's lifelong friend Shirley Sylvester and the taller Trula Mae at the right. Shirley was the daughter of Lona's best friend from Kamiah.
Betty got in a lot of trouble on the occasion of Trula's wedding, when Todd persuaded to her to run away with him and the two of them disappeared for a short while. All's well that ends well, though, as this big smile shows.
Betty always loved tennis, and played through her college years and beyond.
Betty started at Stadium High in Tacoma but transferred to Lincoln because of allergies to pollution from the nearby Asarco copper smelter. She flourished at Lincoln, holding student office, winning dance contests with her boyfriend Stan, pulling down good grades, and pointing herself inevitably toward college.


She also just got prettier and prettier.




When she arrived on campus in the fall of 1942, you can be sure she turned a few heads, one of which belonged to junior Robert Milton Burns.


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