Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
sgreene@etex.net
Sep 20, 2012 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FROM AN early age I knew plenty of girls and women named Betty. There were Betty Ann, Betty Jane, Betty Jean, Betty Jo, Betty Lou, Betty Sue, as well as single-name Bettys.

So I was surprised when a recent rerun of the CBS Sunday Morning TV program had a segment about Betty Clubs. I learned that for 16 years they had gathered in annual conventions to celebrated their “endangered” name.

It was said that everyone recognizes the name Betty Crocker and everyone has an aunt Betty (my children do). But most of the aunts are in their 80s.

In the1920s and 30s it was the most popular girls’ name.

People magazine reported that there’s a pecking order among the Bettys of Grants Pass, Ore.

THOSE WITH just plain Betty on their birth certificates, think they’re just slightly better than the “other” Bettys—the Elizabeths, Bettes, Bettis and Betties.

The story noted that those distinctions were discreetly ignored by 50 members of the town’s Betty Club who attended the annual Betty Picnic.

The Betty Club was founded by Betty Wilder, 62, of Rogue River and Betty Patterson, 59, of Grants Pass. The two women posted flyers at beauty shops, banks and offices—and got 48 Bettys at the first picnic. They also got an autographed picture and best wishes from Golden Girls star Betty White.

There was a time, many of us recall, when Betty Boop was a favorite cartoon character, known for her trademark “boop-boop-a doop,” and Bette Davis, Betty Hutton and Betty Grable were reigning movie queens.

ONE OF the best-known is the fictional Betty Crocker, a brand name and trademark of the General Mills corporation. According to a web search the name was first developed by the Washburn Crosby Co. in 1921 as a way to give a personalized response to consumer product questions.

The name Betty was selected because it was viewed as a cheery, all-American name. It was paired with the last name Crocker, in honor of William Crocker, a Washburn Crosby Co. director. Crocker’s company was one of five that merged to form General Mills..

ACCORDING TO the People story, being named Betty is the only requirement to join the many who belong to 15 Betty Club regional chapters across Nebraska and gather every April for camaraderie and companionship with their namesakes.

Betty Krueger, 85, founded Nebraska’s first Betty Club in 1994 in Hastings after hearing about the Betty Picnic in Grants Pass, Ore. She placed an advertisement in the Hastings Tribune (print newspapers still being a great way to communicate!) and located 10 local Bettys who met for lunch.

People offered this commentary:

“Laughter permeated last April’s apron-themed convention chaired by BettyLou Lang, 57, of Lincoln. Members reminisced over a display of vintage aprons, reported on their chapters’ charitable projects, gathered for a group portrait in their matching tie-dyed Betty T-shirts and sang the club anthem, Betty’s a Star, written by member Betty Surls, 73, of Lincoln.

IN THE 2005 Texas applications for social security numbers for new American-born girl babies, the top 20 names came in this order:

Emily, Mia, Madison, Ashley, Emma, Abigail, Samantha, Natalie, Alyssa, Hannah, Isabella , Brianna, Elizabeth, Alexis, Victoria, Jennifer, Sarah, Lauren, Sophia and Ava.

Betty did not make it to the top 100 list, unless you consider that Betty is one of the nicknames, along with Liz and Beth, for No. 13, Elizabeth.
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