About Bitty Martin
Hot Springs native Bitty Martin was indoctrinated into the spa city’s raucous illegal gambling and nightlife at a young age. The newborn twin was so tiny at birth, she spent six weeks in St. Joseph’s Hospital nursery only blocks from the Southern Club casino and nightclub. (Identical twin Mitsy went home after three weeks.) A Stonecipher’s Deluxe Studio photographer snapped this picture of the toddlers, their mother and big sister as they strolled Central Avenue not far from the notorious nightclub that had once been the winter-spring hangout for gangsters Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. Over the years, the vintage photographs taken along Central Avenue’s sidewalks have become collector’s items for spa city families.
As a youngster, Bitty enjoyed her father's tales of their town’s colorful characters and places. She still remembers sitting in the backseat on family drives through downtown Hot Springs. When they’d pass the Southern Club, her father would point up at their fancy neon sign and say, “If the can-can girl’s legs are kicking, that means ‘the coast is clear.’” (Gambling was illegal at the time and the clubs kept watch for law enforcement raids.) Her mother was a great influence, always taking the twins to the library and dropping them off at the Malco or Paramount Saturday matinees. Bitty believes her parents’ nurturing, along with her media and medical backgrounds* prepared her to tackle the mystery of her junior high school friend’s suspicious 1966 death and its connection to a brutal murderer. She considers Blacksnake & Redbird: Murder in a Sixties Southern Town as her town’s true crime memoir.
* Martin received a BSBA in Marketing from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and went on to serve as Hot Springs' YWCA Executive Director. She also worked for the Arkansas State Parks & Tourism Reseach Division, Arkansas Times magazine, KATV-Channel 7/ABC affiliate, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Returning to college at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, she earned an ADN in Nursing, became a RN, then worked in operating rooms across the country. Over the years, she founded many organizations and events and currently is the founder and director of a highly exclusive national nursing network.