By Robert Lucke
ROCKY BOY Ask at Rocky Boy where to get the news, buy gas, fast food and staples and you will be told to go to the Pastime. There has been a Pastime at Rocky Boy Agency since there was an agency.
Sisters Candy Carter and Rosa Jarvey have owned and operated the current Pastime for the last 13 years. That is fitting, too, because Candy and Rosa's maiden name was Saddler. There have been Saddlers in this part of Montana since they lived at Fort Assinniboine way before the Rocky Boy Reservation was created.
Rosa and Candy are the 11th owners of the Pastime which has had three locations around the agency since it was started in 1916.
Rosa Jarvey and Candy Carter bought the Pastime from Kenny Blatt.
"I don't even know why we bought the Pastime, honestly," said Carter. "I guess it was to better ourselves, our families and our kids."
"It has been a family business," continued Carter. "It takes all of our families to run this business. Even my nieces and nephews help out."
Carter and Jarvey work well together.
"I am the bookworm," confided Carter. "Rosa is the backbone. She is the tough one. She will stand up, but we are good together. I think if we had not been together, we would never have lasted 13 years."
Worst part of the job? That's easy for Carter to answer.
"Too much dedication. We have to be here all the time," said Carter. "Even holidays. We have no time for ourselves. It is worse than having kids, but if you owe, you have to stay open just to pay people back."
The best part of owning the Pastime is just as easy for Carter to put into words.
"Each time when I walk through the door I always think about my kids," added Carter. "They will have a business background and they will be proud and the store has helped them in school. If something happened to us, it would always be there for them. Hopefully, they will get married and stay here. If they do leave, I hope they will get an education and come back."
During bad times, the Pastime helps most of the community in many ways.
"During tragedies the Pastime has helped us survive," recalled Carter. "Someone is hard up and we give them food. The same for funerals and burials and we donate for powwows, Sundance, schools and things like that. This has been a good place to help others out."
At that moment in the interview, in the Pastime front door walked partner Rosa Jarvey with a box of Pastime world famous burritos. Jarvey makes from 40 to 60 burritos for lunch at least six days a week and from 15 to 20 homemade breakfast burritos. Folks have been known to drive 100 miles out of their way for a Pastime burrito and some of Jarvey's famous homemade salsa.
The burritos make for a long day.
"I get up at 6 each morning and make burritos," said Jarvey with a laugh. "Then I work the late shift in the store, so I don't get back home until 9 at night, and then my work just starts."
With a schedule like that, still Jarvey says she has slowed down.
"We both used to have a stand at the powwow where we cooked burritos and Indian tacos," related Jarvey. "That was before we both got old and wore out."
"Cripes, I never made so many Indian tacos in my life as at the powwows," interjected Carter.
"You know, last year I went on a trip," said Jarvey laughing. "Every morning when I got up, I would look around and wonder if I should start my burritos yet."
Jarvey is no slouch of a cook in other areas, too. Last year, her bannock won first prize during Native American Days.
So how about another 13 years in the business? Knowing what you know now, would you sign your name on the dotted line again?
"Well, we are going after another loan so I guess we will be signing on the dotted line once again," said Carter, laughing.
Pastime History and FYI:
The first Pastime was started at Rocky Boy Agency in 1916. Since that time, the Pastime has changed locations three times, owners eleven times and focus twice. The first Pastime was located where the Rocky Boy Elementary School is now and was housed in a log building. The second Pastime was located a half mile up the road that leads from the Agency to Mount Centennial. That area of the reservation is still known as the Pastime. Today the Pastime is located in the center of the Agency across the street from Stone Child College.
At the first two locations the Pastime was more of a gaming business. There was lots of the hand game played, pool, pinochle, and poker, just stud poker at that according to old time Rocky Boy resident Robert Mitchell. At times gas and a small amount of staple foodstuffs were sold but not until now has it specialized in food, pop, gas and those famous burritos.
The first eleven Pastime owners include Bautchise Flamord, John Sangrey, John Skinner, Joe Parisian, Tom Saddler, Flora Saddler, John Houle, Ted LaMere, Ernie Friede, Kenny Blatt and Candy Carter and Rosa Jarvey.