Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living The Big Sky Life: Bizzy Body Bulldogs

Memorable Bizzy Body Bulldogs,
a continuation of "It Takes A Village"...

Local business is critical to the survival of any community. And since knowledge is power, it is incumbent upon every local business person who wants to be a success to be in the know. Everybody’s business makes for a successful business.

At the top of my Bizzy Body list are the real estate agents. Having personally worked with most of them while serving my time as a "caged dog", it seemed to me that the overabundant agent-to-resident ratio was about 1 to 35. That meant a lot of real estate agents were fighting over only so many acres, and it was clearly dog eat dog out there. Often fighting over scraps, I watched some of them turn rabid when they believed their territories infringed upon. Frankly, many of them were really pitbulls in bulldogs’ clothing. Oh, the stories I have to tell.

In line behind the real estate agents fell the local attorneys. In order to eke out any semblance of a living in this small town, it was better for many of them to remain general law practitioners than it was to limit their already limited clientele with specialties. Some of the lawyers even had to supplement their income with side careers, real estate being a preferred sideline. What I resented the most was the Flathead Valley attorney calling me up and asking me to legally advise him on how to properly prepare an insurable document because he wasn't sure how. My only thought when providing my free advice was always, “and you’re getting paid how much?”

Montana is a state overflowing with good ole boys, and my crown for Crony King MOWB of Boy’s Town goes to the crotchety old president of the Whitefish Credit Union. He was arrogant and ancient even back then, and is probably long gone by now.

I would be remiss were I not to mention Joe, the exuberant horse-trading jeweler of Tomahawk Trading on Central Avenue who knew just about everything about everybody. With his gift for gab, you’d a thought Joe had personally shaved a chip off the old block at Blarney and had it permanently set into that bollo tie always cinched around his neck. He sported a thick head of white hair, and his starched and pressed western wear was always finished off with silver bling in bulk and chunks of turquoise.  

Next up, “Bad Medicine Bulldogs”…

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Living The Big Sky Life: Well-Heeled Bulldogs

Memorable Well-Heeled Bulldogs,
a continuation of "It Takes A Village"...

Every town has a Mr. Fancy Pants and Stumptown’s Fancy Pants was Buster Schreiber, or more appropriately Mr. B.S. Worthy of his own write up which will likely be forthcoming (not that there weren’t plenty of those after he was indicted), suffice it to say that Mr. B.S. was always impeccably coiffed and expensively dressed in tailored suits, silk ties and tasseled loafers, weather notwithstanding. He drove the only new Mercedes in the village and there was never a question about who was in your midst when that pale yellow 450SL turned the corner. Mr. B.S. had his fingers into everything, and I mean everything.

There exists a large trucking company headquartered in Missoula, MT called Watkins & Shepard, and Carolyn Watkins was one of those “Watkins”. I suppose she was considered the closest thing to a socialite that a place like Whitefish could have. And like most of the local elite, Carolyn too had a house on the lake but her stays in town tended to be her own version of fashionably seasonal. When she wanted to formally entertain, Chef was often her caterer of choice and I usually helped him out with the service. After I’d left Whitefish, I was told that Carolyn had passed away.

The story I heard again and again during my tortured tenure in Big Sky Country was: “If you want to make a $1Million in Montana, you’ve got to bring $10Million with you.” In other words, no one comes to Montana to make money, let alone get rich. Newcomers would either need to bring their wealth with them, or they would struggle to survive. Rarely was there a middle ground that I could see. And a college degree gave little returns on the investment when one of the best livings to be had involved waiting tables for cash tips. Of course, this was long before the internet made telecommuting the viable option it is today.

Next up, “Bizzy Body Bulldogs”…

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King