The Suite Bettie Jean Story
Who Was Bettie Jean?
Bettie Jean Dunham was born December 1, 1923 in Sparks, OK. As a child she moved with her parents to Chicago and spent her school years there. Leaving high School she was offered a scholarship at a prestigious art school but instead decided to follow her dream of being a singer.
She remained and sang in the area with notable bands such as Art Van Damme and several others. Then in the early 1940's along with her parents she moved back to her roots in Oklahoma. Still pursuing her dream she answered an ad in the classified section of The Daily Oklahoman placed by a young musician named Amato Guariglia.
Guariglia, the son of Italian and Swedish immigrants had come to Oklahoma City to take a job as a staff musician for WKY Radio. Falling in love with Oklahoma, he decided he would stay, and began putting a band together. His ad in the paper was for a singer. Little did she know that not only would she get the job but would also become the bandleader's wife. Married on December 24, 1944 with musician witnesses Kenny and Lucille Driver by their side she became Mrs. Amato Guariglia. Less than a year later, feeling that his Italian name could be difficult for people to pronounce (see, you're having trouble, right?) he decided to legally change his name to Alan Ronald Good, or less formally, "Al Good". This was the beginning of Al Good & His Orchestra, featuring vocalist Bettie Dunham. As was the custom in those days, she continued to sing under her maiden name.
They took the area by storm and performed together for events on radio, television and many now historic dance venues such as The Springlake Casino, The Persian Room at The Skirvin Hotel, and the Zebra Room at the Municipal Auditorium (now Civic Center Music Hall). Together Al and Bettie had three children; Ronald Jean Good, Gary Alan Good and Patricia Gayle Good.
Suite Bettie Jean is a project of middle son, Gary, who also still manages the Al Good Orchestra and today has the band performing live throughout Oklahoma for weddings, festivals and ballroom dances.
Bettie Jean died way too young in an accident on November 27, 1970 at the age of 46. Al Good lived a long full life and died in between "gigs" at the age of 86 with his son Gary by his side. Housed at Suite Bettie Jean are several photographs, recordings and other memorabilia honoring their lives, including CDs and even vintage vinyl records you can purchase.
When owner/operator, Gary Good first came to downtown Guthrie he was captivated by the sweet energy, awesome architecture, and simple charm. "I wanted to create a place for people to come and enjoy historic downtown Guthrie as I did when I first arrived." This is why Bettie Jean was established. Gary and his wife, Cristina personally insure your stay at Suite Bettie Jean is as cozy as your grandmother's hand made quilt!
History Is As History Does
Listed as the largest contiguous historic district in the US, this sweet downtown area was well preserved partially by a fluke.
Many of the buildings brick fronts were covered by a facade by owners wanting to make the buildings look more modern. During the 1970's and 80's a major restoration movement began and most of the these facades were taken off, only to discover the original buildings looking very much as they did when originally built.
Today, Guthrie, Oklahoma is being discovered by travelers from not only the United States, but tourists from around the world.