Betty Harrison, 73, of Liberty experienced the thrill of victory at the XIX Olympic Winter Games, held in Salt Lake City in 2002.
“My son, Steve, and I went for three days. This was right after 911, so security was tight. Every time we went to a venue I had to take off my coat, so they could search me,” Harrison said.
“We went to the curling games, ladies’ ice hockey, and the downhill skiing at Park City,” Harrison said. “We had a great time.”
Harrison said she is a master gardener.
“I just got my 15-year pin. After you have been in the club for 15 years, you become a lifetime member and you don’t have to accrue hours any more. You have to have 20 work hours and 20 education hours a year to stay in the club,” Harrison said.
“For hours, we work at projects around Fort Smith. The Cisterna Plaza on Garrison Avenue is my project. I am the chair of that project. I have about a crew of seven people that work with me. I think the club has about 14 projects around town in different places,” Harrison said.
“I was selected as Master Gardner of the Year in 2005,” she said.
“I have always loved gardening. My mom was a gardener, so I guess I learned it from her,” Harrison said.
“I love flowers. My yard was beautiful in the springtime. Everything was blooming and green and now it looks awful. The heat has taken its toll on everything,” Harrison said.
“We have a vegetable garden too. My neighbors down the road have two big dogs, and they are keeping the deer out of our garden, which is nice,” Harrison said.
“We haven’t had a garden in three years because the deer came in and ate everything. I mean they ate the Jalapenos, okra, tomatoes, and everything. They even ate my rose bushes,” Harrison said.
“We used to see whole herds of deer out in the field. They seem to like our yard for some reason,” Harrison said. “So now with the dogs we have a garden this year. I have been canning and eating fresh vegetables all summer long.”
“My family moved to Salinas, Calif., when I was three,” Harrison said.
“It was fun growing up in Salinas. My girlfriend and I used to walk to town. We would go to the movies and stuff like that. It cost a quarter to get in the movies. My folks would give me 50 cents and that would get us in, a Coke and popcorn,” Harrison said.
“Just about every Saturday we would go to the movies. They would have a cowboy serial, cartoon, and a movie of some kind. My favorite was the cowboy serials. I think it was Hoot Gibson,” Harrison said.
“I lived in Salinas until I was about 14, then the family moved to San Jose. My friend Ann and I used to go roller-skating every Tuesday night because it was ladies’ night and we could get in for 35 cents. The guys would all come because there were a lot of girls there on that night,” Harrison said.
“I met my husband, Don, at the skating rink. He just started following me around the rink one night. He was one of those going around backwards and showing off. He was a pretty good skater,” Harrison said. “He said he liked my legs. We wore short skating skirts back then. We dated for two and half years before we got married. We have been married for 54 years,” Harrison said.
“We have four kids, Debbie, Cathy, Steve, and Amy, and seven grandkids, Elizabeth, Jacob, Whitney, Curtis, Lydia, Kate, Kylee, and two great grandkids, Grace and Addison,” Harrison said.
“I love being a grandmother,” she said.
“I have lots of hobbies. I make hypertufa pots. They are made out of part cement, peat moss, and vermiculite. They are light weigh,” Harrison said.
“I also make glass totems. You just take glassware and stack them on top of each other and use silicone glue to keep them together. I use them in the garden,” Harrison said.
“I also decorate old bowling balls. They are similar to a gazing ball. I have one that is decorated with pennies, another one that is decoupage, and I am getting ready to put beads on another one. They are just things to sit in your garden. I enjoy doing stuff like that. My mom was like that too. She was good at making things,” Harrison said.
“The secret when you retire is to keep busy,” Harrison said.