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.There were pictures of her winning the talent competition as Scarlett, clutching a carrot and swearing she would never go hungry again.“Not a dry eye in the house,” the reporter noted.“Very possible,” I muttered.But I had to admit that Betty Bedsole had been beautiful, with long dark hair that she wore down for Scarlett and up for the swimsuit.Her smile was dazzling, and her eyes had the same slight slant that made Claire Moon’s so spectacular.There were pictures of her victorious arrival back in Birmingham, the crowd at Terminal Station and the flowers again.I was glancing at this page of the paper when something caught my eye.I switched to magnification and looked closely at the young man to whom she was handing a rose.It could be Ross Perry.I held the eraser end of my pencil over his head to cover his hair.But I still wasn’t sure, and he wasn’t identified in the story.I called the young librarian over to see how I could get a copy on magnification.“I hope you’re wearing comfortable shoes,” I said.“I am.” She smiled.I looked down and saw army boots that must have weighed a ton.Still better than three-inch heels.“She’s the one whose daughter was murdered, isn’t she?” the librarian said, pointing to the picture.I nodded.“Betty Bedsole.”“Well, if you’re doing research on her, there’s a whole clipping file up in the Southern History Department.It would save you having to go through the papers.”“Thanks.” Why hadn’t I remembered that?The girl nodded.“I think they’re trying to get all the stuff copied, but right now, it’s still in manila folders in file cabinets.”“That’s great.Thanks.” I put my two photocopied articles in my purse and headed up the steps.The Southern History Department is an incredible resource for scholars.Partially funded by a wealthy Birmingham family, and ferociously guarded and added to for over forty years by a no-nonsense librarian aptly named Miss Boxx, it is a treasure trove for historians.The genealogy section alone brings people in by droves.Today, even this close to Christmas, was no exception.I requested the Betty Bedsole clippings from the young man at the desk.They were in my hands in about one minute.“She would be proud of you,” I told him, pointing to a portrait of Miss Boxx in which she glared down at the people taking advantage of her life’s work.“Mess it up and you’re dead meat,” she seemed to be saying.He smiled, genuinely pleased.I found a place at a table and opened the folder.The clippings weren’t in any order, which didn’t matter.I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, anyway.The first one was from the fifties.It was a picture of Betty and her father, Amos, at the Camellia Ball.There were two other debutantes and their fathers in the picture, but all you saw was the Bedsoles.Almost as tall as her father and dressed in a strapless white sheath, eighteen-year-old Betty flirted with the camera.Or the photographer.Head slightly tilted, lips slightly parted, she seemed much more sophisticated than the other two girls in their frilly dresses who were dutifully saying “Cheese.” Amos Bedsole, a handsome man in his early forties, smiled at his daughter instead of at the camera.His delight in her was so evident, it brought tears to my eyes.The next clipping was of her marriage to Samuel Armistead.Underneath a picture of the wedding couple taken as they came down the steps of the Independent Presbyterian Church was the caption MISS AMERICA MARRIES.Betty was a traditional bride, bouffant everything.I scanned the story.Well-known movie producer.Ten bridesmaids.Blue dotted swiss dresses.Seated dinner.Birmingham Country Club.The story was so long, it was continued on another page.I removed the gem clip and saw pictures taken at the dinner.One of them was of Ross Perry holding up a champagne glass, giving a toast.And this time, he was identified.It was the same man to whom she had given the rose as she boarded the train for Atlantic City.“Hmm,” I murmured.I glanced hurriedly through the rest of the clippings.The birth of her daughter, Mercy Louise, was announced.And the birth of her son, Andrew.For a while, Miss Boxx had clipped notices of Betty Bedsole’s trips home.But not for long.Other people became more newsworthy.The last clipping was dated January 1969 when Betty had been a judge at the Miss America pageant and had posed with a Miss Alabama who didn’t even make the top ten.Well, nobody could accuse Betty of showing partiality.I rested my elbows on the table and stared up at grim Miss Boxx’s portrait.“So?” she said.“I think Ross Perry was in love with Betty Bedsole and she dumped him and that’s why he hated her daughter so.”“Mary Alice said he was gay.”“She said ‘maybe’ gay.Maybe he was ‘bi.’”“I like people who can make up their minds,” Miss Boxx said.“‘Bi’ is so indecisive.You know what I mean?”“I don’t know anything.I don’t even know what I’m doing here.None of this is any of my business.”“Business is as business does.”“What does that mean?”“I have no idea [ Pobierz całość 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