Photographic essay celebrates 80 years of Rangerette history at Longview Museum of Fine Arts

Exhibit on display March 13 through July 3
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 9:06 PM CST

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - They are the world’s best-known collegiate drill team; an American phenomenon that calls East Texas home. And East Texans will soon have the opportunity to take a photographic journey through their history.

The Longview Museum of Fine Arts will soon play host to a photographic essay celebrating 80 years of the Kilgore College Rangerettes.

Photographer O. Rufus Lovett first started capturing Rangerette magic while working at Kilgore College in 1989.

“I was intrigued by this beauty and glamour juxtaposed with the small town, asphalt, steel bleacher, chain fence environment,” he said.

And from behind chain-link fences to the streets of New York City, Lovett captured the Rangerette story for 30 years.

He narrowed down his collection to about 70 photos for this special gallery. Each photo tells a story, like the one of Rangerettes founder Gussie Nell Davis reunited with some of the first Rangerettes at the 1990 Cotton Bowl Parade in Dallas.

Also on display, the last traditional photo of the Rangerettes at the old Crim home in Kilgore. Lovett says it’s where that famous Rangerettes slogan originated many years ago.

“They’d have to line up against these holly bushes,” he said. “And the bushes were prickling the back of their legs. And you could see tears rolling down their faces from the pain. That’s where Gussie Nell came up with that great slogan: beauty knows no pain.”

And while the Rangerettes are known for perfection, some of Lovett’s favorite photos are of candid moments, and those showing the hard work that goes into being a Rangerette.

Rangerettes captured in an off-guard moment.(O. Rufus Lovett)

“They do so well, and they work so hard,” he said. “A lot of people probably have no idea the amount of time and effort they put into their performances.”

But it’s Lovett’s hope that these photos show that hard work, and everything else that represents the world-famous Rangerettes.

“I like to describe the Rangerettes with three major words,” he said. “Discipline, precision, and tradition.”

Kilgore College Rangerettes: Celebrating 80 Years will be on display at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts March 13 through July 3. The museum is typically open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Although, the museum will have special hours for this exhibit on Sunday, March 14, and Sunday, March 21 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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