As Kilgore College welcomed the 84th line of the high-kicking dance drill team known as the Rangerettes this month, one of the very first Rangerettes celebrated her 99th birthday. The Kilgore College Rangerettes took the field for the first time during the 1940 football season.
Mae Horn, who was on the second line of the Kilgore Rangerettes in 1941 and now lives at Buckner Westminster Place in Longview, Texas, celebrated her birthday with a surprise visit from three of today's Rangerettes.
As her visitors came in wearing their iconic red, white and blue uniforms, Horn smiled and accepted hugs from each.
She thanked them all enthusiastically, pointed to the nearest Rangerette’s hemline and indicating her own knee remarked with a smile, “You know, my skirt came down to here.”
Horn’s friends and Buckner Westminster Place neighbors, Frances Hall and Grace Raney, were also Rangerettes in the years following Horn. They laughed in agreement regarding the past design of the uniforms. The change in skirt length marks the only change in the uniform since the first line in 1940.
Raney (96, pictured with a photo of her granddaugther as a Rangerette) performed on the fourth line of Rangerettes. She recalled being on the drill team during World War II. They didn’t perform at half-time shows because there weren't any men at home to play football. Raney shared both her daughter-in-law and granddaughter were both part of the drill team as well.
Flipping through her 1941 Kilgore College yearbook, Horn recalled the abrupt change for the Rangerettes during her freshman year when the U.S. entered World War II.
“We couldn’t go to Paris and those places like they did later on," she shared. "Because of the war, no traveling. You wouldn’t want to go over there anyway during the war. You couldn’t. They wouldn’t let you."
Someone asked about her favorite memory of those days. "When they called my name on the day of try-outs," she said without hesitation.
“I graduated from high school at 16, turned 17 in August, and in September, I became a Rangerette. I had been taking dance lessons since I was a little girl.”
She then proceeded – while seated – to show everyone she can still kick, although maybe not quite as high.
Just like through the Kilgore College Rangerettes, Horn and other residents at Buckner Westminster Place have found a place where they can enjoy community, fun and experience all that life has for them.