PostHeaderIcon BETTY WHITE


So Betty White has died. She was almost a hundred years of age.
I remember, as a child, first seeing a photo of Betty on a cigarette card. Among a couple of others, I had one of Janet Gaynor, and these young women were so attractive to a ten year old, an impressionable country kid who was so ignorant of the rest of the world, knowing only the dairy farm of the early thirties and the surrounding district on the Logan River.

Times were tough. The Great Depression raged. The meagre cream cheque was barely sufficient to buy the family’s wants, let alone luxuries, like cigarettes in a packet! But sometimes, there would be a young visitor from the city who would produce proudly a packet of Capstan, or was it Three Threes? ‘Have a ready-made, Harry,’ he might say to my father who rolled his own of course, it being the much cheaper option.

I knew my best course of action. I must lie low. Just hang around, not speaking, just looking but remaining unobtrusive, almost unseen, certainly not noticed. The cups of tea would be forthcoming, scones and cream produced, and perhaps I would be asked to hand around the sugar.

Good country talk ensued. The terrible low price of cream; the bloody drought; the cricket...and I waited. At last, the talk subsided and it was time for a smoke. Would Dad roll his own as usual? The visitor was a cheery type who insisted my father accept a ready-rolled for a change. Skulking in the background, I could see there was only one cigarette remaining in the packet. I was downcast.

They chatted on...and on. Until it was time to get the cows in for the milking. I had given up by then, but as the guest was leaving, he fished in his pocket, took out the remaining cigarette, saying, ‘I do like a smoke when I am at the wheel...’ and looked round for somewhere to throw the empty packet.

It was my cue. My hands were there, ready to take the discarded item. ‘What a good girl!’ someone said, but I was happy. As I ran to the rubbish bin, my little fingers had already found the precious card that I knew would be in the packet, and I was looking to see who it was...Betty White!