In 1927 the oil field towns of the Texas Panhandle had no roads, houses, or schools. The riggers and their families lived in tent camps in a treeless landscape, and had to cope with snakes and mice, the constant smell of oil, the bootleggers and ruffians, dust storms that lasted a week and mudslides when it rained.
The resourceful Peterson children were ‘oil field brats’ who collected bottles and gave rides in mud-sleds to contribute to the family ‘house fund’ with which they hoped to move into a proper house with walls one day. Their papa had sunk the money into gushers that didn’t gush or which caught fire and took days to extinguish.
Betty Lou had once seen a tap dance class and the height of her ambition was to be in a place where she could learn to dance. That was her dream amidst the dust and danger and the itinerant lifestyle of the oil field pioneers.