Checking her cell phone before the interview, Betty Davis showed that she has kept up with the times, but as a long-time resident of Fairfield, there have been some pretty interesting times to keep up with.
Betty attended Fairfield Elementary School and Armijo High School. In grammar school, her class was the largest up to that time, but there were more kids every year. There was no kindergarten when she was there because it was a small town, but that has changed.
Betty has quite a memory for the past. She recalled that her second grade teacher’s names were Miss Kerr and Miss Neitzel; her third grade teacher was Miss Tody; her fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Morrison; and her sixth grade was Mr. Woods. She even remembered that in eighth grade she had Mrs. Sheldon.
Every year, at the beginning of the school year, Betty was scared because she thought that her teachers might be mean, but her fears were unfounded. Every year, she found out that they were nice. Like children of that era, she brought her lunch to school every day. Things could be tough back then. She usually she wore dresses to school made of sacks used for chicken feed. If you were lucky, you would get two sacks to make a dress from and a jacket to go over your shoulders.
Some of the games that the students played at elementary school were hopscotch, jump rope and baseball. One thing that Betty remembers well was playing on the merry-go-round. That is hard to forget because, in third grade, she broke her tooth on the merry-go -round.
Elementary school wasn’t just about food, clothes and games. Betty remembered how much she enjoyed reading stories. She also shared that she liked math and was good at spelling. Betty’s best friend was Frances Rice; they met in third grade but they were friends for life. Frances has since passed away, but Betty will never forget her.
When Betty was growing up, the doctor made house calls, meaning he would visit her home when she was sick. Over the years, people suffered from whooping cough, chicken pox, mumps and measles and the doctor helped make sure they recovered from them all.
There was no need for traffic lights when Betty was in grammar school, although she remembers when they put one up on Texas Street. There were only about 800 homes and businesses in Fairfield at that time. One of the businesses that Betty remembers is the Solano County Library, which used to be across the street from an earlier version of Armijo High School, a building that is now used to house county courts.
The address of the house that Betty grew up on used to be on Water Works Lane, named after the water tanks that were on the street, but it was renamed Canova because the tanks were torn down. They renamed some streets after people that lived on the corner back in the 30s and 40s. Her house is no longer standing; it and the tanks were torn down.
When Betty was in high school, dating involved things like attending school dances, taking trips to the movies, attending the carnival when it was in town and going to high school football games. She said that she only had two steady boyfriends during that time. The first one, Marshall, left Fairfield after he graduated.
When she and her friends were away from school they liked to roller skate. Betty remembered when the Works Progress Administration Act, or WPA, paid people to fix sidewalks, so the girls liked to skate because the sidewalks were the smoothest places to skate. Later, the town got a skating rink and that was one of the first organized recreational activities that was indoors. There was no bowling alley at that time. Betty also played baseball, rode bikes, and camped with her family at Lake County, Eel River’s Richardson Grove Park, and Yosemite.
In eighth grade Betty wanted to join the school band but the only position left was drummer and she felt that she wasn’t cut out for it. Her favorite professional song was Blueberry Hill. She said that she used to make fudge when she was growing up and she loved it.
In 1952 Betty worked for Grimm Land Surveyor. Her first paycheck was for $17.80. The boss was nice, and glad to have someone working in the office. Back then, she recalled, the phone numbers were only three digits long.
Betty grew up in some of the most formative years of Fairfield. She was familiar with Mayor Alan Witt who originally owned a barbershop (which is now a restaurant) and had a park named after him. She knew Mr. H. Glenn Richardson, who has an elementary school named after him. Betty has experienced a lot of history, touching local lives and living out national trends. She still has a lot of stories to share.