Here's today's quiz: Which border town has a rich cultural history, but money from visitors across the border gives the place a quick-buck image?
A. Nuevo Laredo, MexicoB. Monte Carlo, Monaco
C. Wendover, Nev.
D. Franklin, Idaho
The answer, of course, is all of the above.
Franklin - the oldest town in Idaho and a bedrock of pioneer lore - is getting to be known as lottery La-La Land.
La Tienda, a convenience store there, has paid out almost $800,000 in winnings since the lottery became legal in Idaho. Today, visitors sit at the half-dozen tables in La Tienda and scrape the silver foil from their lucky tickets. It makes La Tienda seem like a cross between a Bingo parlor and a Nevada roadside casino.
Yet just a block from La Tienda you can find the oldest tree planted in Idaho, several proud historical markers, not to mention buildings that form a living museum of Western history.
Taken as a whole, the town gives the impression of an old rock home covered with neon, or perhaps an aging patriarch who's decided to take a dance-hall girl for a bride.
"Our town is rather unique," says Mayor Luis Mendoza, in typical understated style. "We have a majority of older people from sturdy pioneer stock, and we have a lot of young people who are on the move."
As for the lottery, Mendoza compares it to the town itself.
"Like Franklin, the lottery has two sides," he says. "The schools will get a windfall from the income, and it has created a new Idaho industry. On the other hand we have a lot of people participating in it who aren't financially sound enough to be doing such things. So there are pros and cons, and probably always will be. When you're dealing with human nature, it's difficult to work out the rules."
Mendoza moved to Franklin some 30 years ago from Mesa, Ariz. Today he knows everybody in town - all 450 - which he claims gives him both an advantage and puts him at a disadvantage.
As for Franklin, the village has been around a century longer than Mendoza. In 1860 Brigham Young sent a young settler, Tom Smart, to colonize southern Idaho. Smart recruited people with a variety of skills and built the community around them.
The town was a trade center for a while, but in 1877 the railroad gave out and Franklinites quickly turned to farming and other traditional pursuits.
As for the town's hand-in-glove relationship with Utah, it's been going on for a long time. The religious ties are obvious, since Franklin was a Mormon settlement. But Idaho has also had a penchant for hustling its young people into adulthood. For years the drinking age, driving age and age of consent were considerably lower in Idaho, prompting many young Utahns to scurry across the border for their wives and vices.
Today the laws of the two states are beginning to even out, however. The drinking age in Idaho is now 21, and 14-year-old kids can only get a daytime driver's license - used mostly by farm kids who have to haul in the crops.
In fact, about the only reason a Utahn can think of to jog over the border these days is to try and win money in the Idaho lottery.
But judging by the millions of dollars pouring through the La Tienda convenience store, many see that as reason enough.