July 29, 2005

Questions. (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:26 pm

Question Mark.jpgI have a few questions. No, no, they’re not rhetorical questions; they’re just plain old questions – the kind that seek answers. Knowing that the people who pass through this place are the intellectual cream of the crop, I expect that my questions can be readily answered. Here they are:

1. What’s the deal with that little strip of Idaho in the northern part of the state that sits between Montana and Washington and borders on Canada? I looked at a county map, and these appear to be Boundary and Bonner Counties.

2. How wide is that strip?

3. How long does it take to drive through it?

4. I see from the map that there are towns in that strip. Do the people who live there, with the fat end of the state way to the south, feel like Idahoans [??] or are their identities smooshed into those of Montanans [??] and/or Washingtonians[??]?

5. Do people live in the part of that strip that borders on Canada? Do they feel like Idahoans [??], Montanans [??], Washingtonians [??], or Canadians? Do they routinely carry around Canadian money? Do they drink Molson Ale? While I’m at it, could someone please tell me what you call people who live in Idaho, Washington and Montana? As you can see, I know what you call people who live in Canada.

6. Do potatoes grow in that strip?

7. Do you call a woman of ill-repute who lives in Idaho and “Idaho ho?” OK, so the last one is just silly, and it was probably the product of Friday fatigue.

The Wal-Mart Radio Commercial
1. Have you heard the radio commercial for Wal-Mart in which the woman says, “My name is Karen, and I work at Wal-Mart”? It’s the one where she says that her goal is to someday be the CEO.

2. In the commercial she says, “I started out as a [word I cannot understand] stocker.” It sounds like she is saying, “I started out as a prostitute stocker.” Now, I know she is not saying that, because: (a) if she were a prostitute (a successful one, anyway), she probably would not have to work at Wal-Mart, and (b) I doubt that Wal-Mart stocks prostitutes. What the heck is she saying???

Back to the Introductory Paragraph
1. In the introductory paragraph, I tossed out the term “cream of the crop.” What the basis of that rather goofy expression?

2. Does it refer to a crop, as in crop of vegetables? If so, is the best part of a crop referred to as the “cream”? If so, why? Might it refer to a part of the digestive system of a bird, or one of those things you carry while wearing those strange looking clothes and riding a fancy-schmancy horse?

Answers, please.

UPDATE: I knew youse guys could do it. Randy, a Montana Blogger and proprietor of A Secular Franciscan Life, sent me some interesting information via e-mail (It seems that my MT Blacklist was zapping his comment, presumably because of a combination of letters in one of the URLs he tried to post). More specifically, he pointed me to this post, which points out, among other things, that the little strip of land (or panhandle) at the top of Idaho exists because Montana glommed a couple hundred miles of land to the east of the panhandle, thereby extending the western border of the territory that would become the state of Montana. It also turns out that Idaho originally wanted to call itself “Montana,” but Montana glommed the name as well. There is lots of interesting stuff in that post about the territorial system of government in the west in the 19th century.

Oh, and Randy also said, in his e-mail:

Did you know most “Idaho potatoes” are NOT grown in Idaho? USDA
rules allows trucking potatoes into Idaho and if they are bagged in
Idaho they can be called Idaho potatoes. They don’t have to be grown
there to earn the moniker. In all actuality most “Idaho potatoes” are
grown in the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

No, I didn’t know that. Sheesh! Does that mean that if I ever get to Idaho and get myself “bagged” in one of the many saloons that Dan described in the comments, I’ll no longer be a Jersey Guy?


  1. Last I drove it, it was just shy of an hour from the top of Lookout Pass to the ID/WA border, but it’s been about 10 years since I’ve been in that part of the world.

    I always liked that drive down Lookout Pass into Wallace, then hitting Kellogg, 4th of July Pass, Cd’A and that neck of the woods.

    Tony probably has a better idea than I do.

    Comment by Craig — July 29, 2005 @ 9:34 pm

  2. Oh, and we’re “Montanans,” too.

    Comment by Craig — July 29, 2005 @ 9:35 pm

  3. Jim, ya just aint right in the head sometimes!! Was you down in NOLA with all the other bloggers and get some bad juju??

    Comment by Michele — July 29, 2005 @ 9:51 pm

  4. Judging by your last Idaho question, I’d guess that you already knew why there aren’t any entries for the Miss America pageant from there.

    As for any useful Idaho info… sorry.

    Ain’t heard the Wally-World commercial, but prostitute does seem to make sense. ‘Specially when she’s got designs on being CEO. As far as Walmart stocking prostitutes… you never know. Folks say that those super centers have almost everything.

    Cream of the crop? Creamy crops just sound plain nasty. No thanks.

    Comment by That 1 Guy — July 30, 2005 @ 12:00 am

  5. “Cream of the Crop” more of an amalgam of idioms

    Means Top of the Crop best. Crop being a universal idiom for any group.

    From Cream rising to the top and been skimmed off.

    Associated idiom “skim off the cream”

    Darn I keep forgetting If I leave in my URL I have to delete it and do everything over again

    Comment by Dan Kauffman — July 30, 2005 @ 12:18 am

  6. When I lived up there thirty years ago I remember that part of Idaho being referred to as a digit flung meaningfully toward Canada. But I remember it taking a good deal more than an hour to negotiate it. But it’s only 60-70 miles wide. No potatoes.

    And I believe the Wal-Mart lady was a prostitute stalker. Mr. Sam like to keep track of the floor traffic.

    Comment by Sluggo — July 30, 2005 @ 1:20 am

  7. Jim,

    I used to have to spend a few weeks every year or so in the Idaho panhandle. The folks up their are really quite different from anything I had ever encountered. They struck me as being some of the most independent folks I had ever met in the U.S. of A.

    The major industry from Couer d’Alene to Wallace is silver/zinc mining. They used to be some of the most productive silver mines in the world. Back in the 1980’s when silver prices were on a tear, it wasn’t unusual for miners to pull down 6 figures every year (a heck of a lot of money back then if you remember). However, it was really dangerous work (they have a much higher ratio of young widows there) due to underground rock blasts. Rocks that were under extremely high pressure for eons of years would spontaneously explode once the pressure was released. Workers going underground were always at risk of suddenly being killed or injured by these.

    I would say that most of them identified with being from that little part of northern Idaho, although they did also feel like they were part of Spokane, Wa or Western Montana. I was up there during the famous Randy Weaver incident. I was amazed at how many people I met sympothized with Mr. Weaver (well over 50%). I would hate to be a Federal Agent up there. They really don’t like the DC crowd. They don’t carry Canadian money because their’s nothing in over the border in that part of the world they would be inclined to buy. They would mostly cross over to go hunting or fishing.

    YOU would really like it there. There are probably more saloons per capita than any other place in North America. They do drink Canadian beer but not any more than anywhere else. As you might guess, if you told them you lived within a rifle shot of NYC, they would ask you why in the hell anyone would actually live in NJ. They think anyone who would choose to live in a highly populated place must be nuts.

    Oh, and one last note. I don’t know this as fact, but I always had the impression that there were more Nazi skinheads there than in any other part of the US.

    Comment by Dan — July 30, 2005 @ 4:26 am

  8. ..Idahites..

    Comment by Eric — July 30, 2005 @ 7:07 am

  9. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood once hosted an opera about potato bugs. One of the more charming numbers was called “I’m An Idaho-ho Potato-ho”. It was braodcast on PBS so there must have been some scholarly background research that uncovered this socialogical subgroup of the general Idaho population. The man was years ahead of his time.

    Comment by Suzette — July 30, 2005 @ 7:51 am

  10. Produce

    She was a produce stocker.


    You make me LOL!

    Comment by Tammi — July 30, 2005 @ 10:44 am

  11. this sounds like a job for mr. helpful so here goes…

    1. The governor of Idaho bought that strip from the Indians for $26 and a string of beads in 1891. He got the idea from the governor of New York.
    2. According to my atlas, that strip is about an inch and a half long. Which is probably why Idaho suffers from a dreadful “insecurity problem”.
    3. It takes about four and a half minutes to drive through the strip IF you drive the speed limit. Back in the days when neighboring Montana had no speed limit, people used to fly through that strip and only have a vague recollection of having been in Idaho because, God only knows, there aint actually anything there to see.
    3. No one actually lives in those towns. Any humans you see on the streets are just cardboard people left over from when Mel Brooks took over the whole strip to film “Blazing Saddles”. Once filming was done, it was too much work to remove all of them so there they sit, taking up space on a map.
    4. The people who live on the part of the strip that borders Canada are actually “CanaIdahons”. They carry both Canadian money AND American money and are generally considered to be totally insane. Dont EVER engage one of them fools in a conversation…you’ll need years of therapy to recover.
    5. Potatoes do not grow in that strip. Papaya fruit does though. And tiny little gerbils. That eat the papaya and leave little shitballs on your lawn.
    6. It’s difficult to know what to call women of “ill repute” in that area since ALL the women in that area are of “ill repute”. So I suppose most folks just call them “mom” and “sis” and “girlfriend”.

    Walmart Radio Commercial
    1. The commercial you refer to is a variation of one that is currently taking the nation by storm as Walmart tries to rehabilitate its image. The people in the commercials are different and tend to reflect the area where the commercial is being aired. For example, in your area, the woman is named Karen and has a heavy east coast accent. In my area, and, for once, I am NOT making this up, the woman’s name is “Sha” and the fucking lunatic sounds like she just got off the boat and hasnt had a good meal in weeks.
    2. Havent heard your version so I dont know what word she is mangling. It’s probably “sucker”.

    Introductory Paragraph
    1 & 2. “Cream of the crop” refers to that which is expended by men during porn flicks. Most people think that stuff ends up on women’s faces and other places. That’s the FAKE er…stuff. The real stuff is actually carefully collected by refugees that used to work at Walmart. Then it’s processed and sold in stores as a household product commonly known as “mayonnaise”. Yeah, it’s true. The porn industry is the biggest producer of “mayonnaise” in the world.

    Now….wasnt that “helpful”?

    Comment by mr. helpful — July 31, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

  12. Mr. Helpful ROCKS. No kidding. I met the guy. It’s true, it’s true.

    Comment by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop — July 31, 2005 @ 7:39 pm

  13. I’ve driven over the pass that divides Montana and Idaho a number of times and it’s been spectacular. The country up there is so beautiful.

    Comment by MM — August 7, 2005 @ 5:36 am

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