Monday, February 12, 2007

Early Bettie Page ... a quickie bio

Bettie Mae Page was born on April 22, 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, the second child of six. Being the eldest girl, Bettie found herself in charge of the youngest, as her parents' finances remained precarious, the family moving frequently. Edna Mae Pirtle and Walter Roy Page were at odds with each other, apparently from failure to agree on the frequence of their sexual activities (he wanted more, she less). With the climate of the Great Depression in the United States, Roy's skills as a mechanic were not much in demand. Without a job, the Pages were thrown out of their rented house in Tulsa, without a penny. The father decided to steal a car to drive his large family at his mother's, thus going back to Tennessee. He would be arrested the next day, unaware that he had chosen the local sheriff's personal automobile! He would serve time in an Atlanta jail for the next two years.

The Page clan finally reached grandma's house and stayed there till Roy got out of prison in 1931. A farm would be purchased with their meagre savings. So poor were they that the children didn't even have shoes for school. All this took an even more disturbing turn when the parents eventually divorced (as it was discovered that Roy had a pregnant 15-years old mistress!), with Edna working day and night to feed the kids. All this back-breaking work would not suffice: at the age of 10, Bettie and her two sisters became guests at an orphanage, their mother visiting on Sundays, for the next two years.

Soon after Bettie's thirteenth birthday, Roy Page appeared once again, broke as usual. He rented a room in the basement of the house where his family lived. In the next months, he would sexually abuse his eldest daughter. Bettie was too ashamed to confide in anyone. She decided to find refuge in her studies, constantly having a book open before her eyes. Her mother's hysterical religious sermons (mainly on the sin of lust) were not very helpful.
As many young girls of this era, Bettie and her sisters found refuge in wearing hearstyles and makeup like the movie stars they admired, to forget their difficult existence. This inspired Bettie to learn how to sew, a talent that would become useful later. In fact, she was an excellent student and soon became editor of her high school's newspaper. She prefered to be involved in various student activities rather than to be at home and be bothered by her family. She was considered "most likely to succeed". Ironicaly, being the most popular girl in school meant being a solitary invididual, her mother having forbidden any relationships with boys. Of course, one of them became more interested: Billy Neal, two years older than Bettie, but academically one year late. They began a secret liaison, going to the movies or dance halls.

A week before graduation day, Bettie's mom found all about the couple and forbided Bettie to ever see Billy again. A violent quarrel followed, which inspired Bettie to go live with her father, who had remarried. On June 6, 1940, Bettie graduated, honored with a trust fund of $100 (!!!) and she enrolled for Peabody College, with the goal of learning to be a teacher. The next fall, Bettie began to learn dramatic arts, with the faint hope of becoming a movie star. She also found her first job, typing the manuscripts of author Alfred Leland Crabb. (Source: Cult Sirens)

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