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Some claim to have seen her pacing the balcony or heard her footsteps behind them, only to find no one there.

Rumors have flourished that a coach who knew the real Betty is visited by her, on occasion, in the field house and that a former vice principal who once caught a glimpse of her after hours was so spooked by the encounter that he refused to be in the school again by himself.

She hoped to one day become an actress, and in her bedroom, where movie posters and playbills covered the walls, she devoured magazines like the Hollywood scandal sheet.

She loved the thrill of the spotlight and was gifted enough that she landed parts in three school plays when she was just a sophomore.

During her junior year, when the speech team performed the balcony scene from at the University Interscholastic League competition, Betty played the doomed, lovesick heroine.

But as desperately as she wanted to propel herself out of Odessa, she was fatalistic about the future.

The oldest of four children, she knew that her parents could not afford to send her away to college, and her part-time job at Woolworth’s barely paid enough to finance any kind of getaway.

While she aspired to one day appear on the Broadway stage, in the meantime she planned to live at home after graduation and attend Odessa College, just up the street.

She too liked to get a rise out of people, and she thrived on attention, whether she got it by arriving at Tommy’s Drive-In dressed entirely in black but wearing white lipstick or in jeans and a T-shirt, under which she didn’t bother to put on a bra.

She freely expressed opinions that went against the grain, like her belief that segregation was unjust and that blacks should not have to attend a separate high school across the railroad tracks.

She fancied herself an intellectual and put down her opinions on everything from boys to religion in dozens of letters and notes that she passed in study hall.

She read Jack Kerouac’s and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, and she listened to records of Lenny Bruce’s stand-up routines, in which he railed against racism and skewered middle-class hypocrisy.

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