The girls formed up and marched into Rose Stadium. While the Rangerettes sit in rows in a stadium they do several hand-dancing and head-turning routines to the band music. And they dance at their seats to the Kilgore College fight song, a lift from We're All Pals Together, from the old Broadway musical Rio Rita.
The Rangerettes performed first at the half. Slinging clods of mud from their toes, they did their high kick without a slip. The Scrub Me, Mama number went off smoothly. They did the traditional Rangerette march-out, and the Apache Belles came on, more than 100 of them altogether, and dumplings, every one, in black-braided white and gold outfits. They did a couple of dance numbers and then a high kick, with a 32-girl line, to Give My Regards to Broadway. A dance-drill critic severely uninformed in the technicalities would have to say that the Apache Belles may have had an edge in the difficulty of what they attempted, but the Rangerettes did what they did with more refinement and style. The thimbles on those scrub boards never missed a beat.
"We always think we win the halftime, and the Apache Belles always think they win," Deana Bolton said on the bus later. "That way, everybody goes home happy." Laughing and singing, the girls did seem pleased with themselves.
But Gussie Nell was less so. After the girls had checked into, and in some cases out of, Davis Hall, Gussie Nell fell to fretting.
"We made three mistakes tonight," she said. "We don't expect to make three mistakes in a year."
The girls who made those mistakes would not be in the line the next week. That, too, is the Rangerette Way.
"I love those girls," said Gussie Nell. "They'll forget every dance step and drill routine I teach them, but I trust they'll never forget the values we have here. Many of the modern kids, they think they can just lay around and smoke marijuana and do anything they want to anybody, but where does it get them? Miserable, empty, useless, running off to one fad and then another. My girls may not be sophisticated, but they know that the secret to life is to stay busy, be responsible, be cheerful. It's contagious. And it pays off.
"I guess I ought to get out of this business pretty soon, but people my age can get dull. Enthusiasm is what keeps a person going. If you're dull you're not worth a thing to anybody, including yourself. I've devoted my whole life to this," Gussie Nell said. "And I know I wasn't wrong."
"Thank you, Miss Davis!"