In Loving Memory of my friend, Betty Mae Turner

Yesterday I lost my friend of over 35 years, Betty Mae Turner. Betty, also known as T. J. Moscone from our days of shooting pool, was a wild and wonderful Aquarian with a quirky sense of humor and a view of life that only Betty could have.

I met Betty in 1972. True to the nature of our relationship, our meeting was somewhat unusual. I found one of the best friends of my life in the Yellow Pages! Yes, I was calling around for some information, found her ad, dialed the number and we ended up talking for an hour.

I found out she lived just a few miles down the road from me in Campbell. She was also taking classes at West Valley College and both of us were "older" students, having gone back to college after deciding to change the direction of our careers. Betty, already having studied art, was switching to psychology and art history, while I was doing just the opposite having decided that I wanted to be an artist and not a therapist! We formed an immediate and permanent bond.

As students of the "older persuasion" Betty and I became the dynamic duo of clubbing. We would go to school during the day then cruise the local hang-outs at night. We were young enough to go out on a weeknight, party and still make our classes the next morning. We made good use of that youth.

Betty and I were the Mutt and Jeff of the clubbing scene in the seventies in what would soon become Silicon Valley. Betty was tall, six foot in her bare feet, with a long, curly mane of strawberry blond hair. I was only five foot three with a shag cut of auburn hair. We couldn't have been more opposite in looks or taste in clothing. I was more classic and conservative, Betty was a vision of gypsies, tramps and thieves in her upscale hippie wardrobe.

I remember one night in particular, jump suits were popular and I had on a navy blue jump suit with a zipper down the front and the zipper had a large pull ring. Betty took one look at that and said, "Well, nothing like an outfit that zips off in two seconds!", and laughed. I took one look at her outfit, layers of lace, flowing skirts, a short vest and tangles of necklaces and said, "Betty Mae, a guy will take one look at that and figure it's too much work!" We cracked up and headed out to hunt.

I can't count the number of nights we would sit drinking coffee and listening to the famous bands that stopped in at the Bodega in Campbell. We saw Johnny Cash there, and Ricky Nelson and a score of other famous and infamous groups of the day. We even got to see her son's band play there - Matt gave Betty a proud and historic moment that night, one she talked about the rest of her life. She was also quite fond of remembering the time Matt's band played at the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go.

We had a few run ins with bikers at the Bodega too - they loved that dank, grimy cellar of a nightclub as much as the college students and young professionals of the area. It was a fun eclectic mix and Betty and I reveled in the diversity. So many of my memories of her involve this night spot.

I remember one night Betty and I were there. We had just come in, grabbed our drinks and were roaming around when a fairly drunk guy wandered up to us and was desperately trying to hit on us. He was so blitzed we couldn't tell who he was zeroing in on! He was holding a bottle of beer in his hand and that hand had a watch on it. I don't know why but I got a little devil of "inspiration" and asked him what time it was. He looked at his watch - still holding that beer - only he was so looped he didn't see the bottle was tipped and the beer was flowing out onto the beat up wood floor. I thought Betty was going to pee her pants she was laughing so hard! Later she told me she darn near did and we cracked up all over again.

Another night we were celebrating my birthday. Before we headed over to the Bodega, Betty had me come over to her house. She had baked me a cake and this was not an ordinary cake! This cake was in the shape of a man's nether regions - bat and balls, if you get my drift - frosted entirely in pink and the candle was a "smokable substance" placed right at the tip of the "bat"! Only Betty could have come up with this, only my wild and crazy Aquarian friend.

I could go on with story after story of our adventures together. Life was never boring with Betty in it. She was intelligent, creative, funny, loving, quirky, silly, caring, my sister and my friend. Today as I watch the election results and see a new world where we have our first African American President elect, I am aware that an era has ended and a new one has begun for our country. For me today is the end of an era of a great friendship. I find myself wondering what Betty would have had to say about this historical event and I will never know, but I can guess. Betty would have loved this, and she would have found something totally irreverent and totally astute to say.

If I've discovered anything in nearly 58 years of life, I've discovered that the loss of a loved one does not end the world, though it feels like it should. Yes, my life will go on but it will go on with a huge hole in my heart.

Betty Mae, I will miss you for the rest of my life. You were my sister, my friend and I have loved you for all my adult life and will continue to love you forever.

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  1. PopArtDiva,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Reminiscing about the good times is a good thing. It keeps their memory alive--and it sure sounds like you two were very "lively" together!

  2. Beverly, thank you for you kind words.

    It is in the memory of good times that we carry our friends and I have a million memories of good times with my friend Betty.

    Honestly, I could write a book just about our adventures in trolling!

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. I teared up just reading about it. It sounds like ya'll had soooo much fun and meant the world to each other.

    P.S Let me know if you decide to write that book on trolling. I bet it would be hilarious. ;o)

  4. Sarcasm - thank you so much, I didn't mean to make you cry!

    I have decided to incorporate many of these episodes in the book I am currently writing which is a biographical comic graphic novel on my life and what I learned from it - so stayed tuned and keep an eye on Lulu and Amazon and of course a big announcement when it's published here!

    As for this memorial to my friend, Betty's son Matt will be reading it at her service for me as I can't attend because of my leg. At least I will be there in spirit.

  5. Dear Pop Art Diva,

    I, too, have tears in my eyes after reading your lovely tribute to your amazing friend. What great memories you shared. I'm sure Betty Mae was a real pistol and the two of you together would have been smokin' hot!

    You may remember I went to San Jose State for two years and one of my closest friends lived in Campbell so I know the area well but never made it to the Bodega. Did you ever hit the Chateau Libertee in the Santa Cruz mountains? That was a wild and trippy place too. I'm sure you saw the Turtles and the Doobie Brothers (both SJ groups).

    Come back home, my friend!

  6. Eileen - Thanks for stopping by. Betty was indeed quite a "pistol" and so was I - ah, youth, lol.

    Betty and I did indeed get down to the Chateau a time or two, though we mostly kept to the San Jose area hot spots - driving Highway 17 at night after partying was not the safest thing in the world, lol.

  7. Dear Terri,

    I am so sorry to hear that you lost such a dear friend. Friends like that don't come along every day, and many friends don't stay in our lives for that long. It's great that you have all of these precious memories wiht Betty Mae, and can reflect back on the fun things.

    I didn't realize you had injured your leg so badly. I knew you fell off the chair, but did you break it?

    There will be better and brighter days ahead for you, Terri. California will bring you new memories and friends.

  8. Pam - Thank you for your kind thoughts and words. I did not break my leg, but hurt it worse than I realized - I still have a huge lump that is now hard and tender and my leg is black and blue from ankle to knee!

  9. Terry....I weep and laugh with you. we Should talk about our adventures with BMT. Creative, Mischeivious, Crazy, and all applied in even more imaginative ways. There is no way to describe our relationship except Whoosh!!!!!!!!!!!!!till the next ride. Wow, what a bright star she is now with sooo much light. We all love you......and will miss you.

  10. OMG - Shelly! I can't believe you found my blog! After all these years, how the heck are ya?

    Thanks for stopping by - yes, Betty Mae was one of a kind. Who do I call now who knows me so well????

    We should talk - I'll have to get your contact info from Matt.

  11. Hey Terri it's Julie. I love reading this of my grandmother. I was with her when she took her last breaths. Very hard to believe it's been 7 years since she's been gone. I would love to hear more wild stories of you and my grandmother. It's been surreal since her passing and I still haven't grieved her death. In fact I fell her soul lives through my daughter. Don't know why I think that but it just feels that way. I'm so glad I found you and Shelly. If your around I would love to get together and chat more with you. It's been an emotional day. We found out that we lost Mindys son bobby and his wife in a car accident last night, so grief stricken it brought me back to my grandmother and Shelly messaged me and told me that she got ahold of you and sent me your link. Give me a call sometime please. I'd love to chat.

    1. Julie!!! I am thrilled you connected with Shelly, found this post and contacted me in the email! It's too late to call tonight but I'll be calling you tomorrow, sometime in the late morning. I'm assuming you're still in California, as I'm in Arizona we are now on the same time zone.
      So great to hear from you and I can't wait to catch up on the family and share Betty stories with you!
      Love, Terri


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