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Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Betty's Dollar Mart is at Sparta's traffic light at the end of town with the schools. North 21 that is. Though it runs east and west through Sparta the signs call 21 North and South. Hwy 18 runs north and south through Sparta, but is East and West on the signs. Hwy 21 does run north and south. And hwy 18 does run east and west, more or less, but north and south through Sparta. Confusing, isn't it. Best way to handle it: don't think about it.

Betty I've known for a lot of years. I think I first knew Betty when she worked at the Pantry. It seems like I knew her someplace else before the Pantry, but can't call it up from memory. After she'd been at the Pantry several years she was made manager. She worked at the Pantry for a very long time, 20 years or so. The Dollar Mart came up for sale and Betty took the deep plunge and put everything on the line for a business of her own, a business she knew very well she could handle. It's been Betty's Dollar Mart ever since.

A moment from when she was at the Pantry comes to mind. On the counter by the register sat a red box with chocolates wrapped in red foil for 25 cents. The box said in big letters, Mon Cheri, French for my love. I read the small print that said it had walnut inside. I laughed at the clever advertising trick, a thing you get away with once and once only, an impulse item, suggesting a cherry was inside without saying it. Legal. I said something to Betty about it and she said everybody who gets one is disappointed. They think it has a cherry inside because it says Mon (pronounced as in Montana) Cheri (pronounced cherry), Mon Cheri. They're every one disappointed. She wasn't too happy with it, because she had to face all the disappointment in the people who bought one when she herself was fooled into getting them in the store.

A century of living with advertising we're so accustomed to such trickery we don't even think about it past a certain point in getting used to it. Now with the internet the trickery has taken a quantum leap and it turns out every other thing is a trick. If you have anything to do with money, you'll be tricked. Betty could probably write a book of all the times she's been tricked. Probably robbed too. It's actually a potentially dangerous job working in a convenience store. Anybody who walks in the door could pull out a gun and you have no way of knowing.

I think Betty is a brave woman and she's a hard working woman with a good mind and a good heart. No opportunities were put before her in life but ones she made for herself. I've admired that in Betty all the way along in knowing her. She keeps a good store, good fried chicken and fish and tater wedges any time of day. Every kind of soft drink you could want. A little bit of a whole lot. She sells Pure gas.

I like to give Betty my business because I respect her and want to help her out. She's making it through the Depression in a small business that is her own. That's quite a lot right there. She works for it too. You never see her when she's not in motion except when she stopped long enough to let me get her picture.

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