She was alone, with mouths to feed,
her dreams of art school pounded
into dust. In bleak necessity she
took a job at Texas Bank and Trust.
They liked her at the bank, devoted
worker that she was, and praised
even promoted her. They let her
dress the windows for the holidays.
Her major gripe about the daily
grind was for the typos made
with carbons triplicate–shades of
ugly smudges so hard to erase.
Then she recalled how artists
will “paint over” when they err
and wondered: could her errors be
concealed, if not effaced?
At home,with trusty kitchen blender
she concocted a solution using
mostly tempera paint, and despite
the frowns from higher-ups
the typing pool named her a saint for
bringing them those little jars of white.
It was as if mistakes were gone.
(Though underneath they still lived on.)
The rest is history, as they say.
She started her own business
selling “Liquid Paper,” as it’s known, and
one fine day, Gillette, the corporation,
phoned her with an offer she could not refuse.
She sold-out for a bundle—took a cruise
to good and plenty, did Ms. Bette Claire.
In 1980 Bette died,a millionaire.
Bette Nesmith Graham, inventor of “Liquid Paper,” was also the mother of Michael Nesmith, one of the
four “Monkees” in that pop/rock band of the 1960’s. In an interview with late-night talk show host David Letterman, Michael was asked about his mother’s secret formula for “liquid paper”, and insisted it shall remain a secret.