By Kevin Williams
In my e-newsletter the other day I wrote about Aster's joy at riding a penny pony at a local grocery store. The grocery store is called Meijer, pronounced MY-ER. People in my corner of Ohio find all sorts of ways to butcher the name. Some people just say MAR. While others say MAJOR. And I've heard a time or two: MEE-JER. I remember one exchange with an uncle years ago: "We're going to MAR today?" "You are going tomorrow today?"
I asked, genuinely not understanding. "To Mar, To Mar." "Not today, tomorrow?" I asked. Finally, I figured out he was trying to say that he was going to MY-ER today.
Anyway, Meijer is a midwestern United States grocery chain with sprawling stores that have everything from cookies to motor oil to socks under one roof. It really is a fine store,, with their corporate headquarters being in Grand Rapids, Michigan (I visited their headquarters, but that is a post for another day and time). But what pulls me in there more often these days is a little mechanical pony that costs a penny for kids to ride. Gives them about 2 minutes of back and forth fun. Compare that to an outdoor outlet mall near me that charges 50 cents for basically the same type of ride.
I always just thought this was some little mechanical pony unique to my store, I didn't realize until yesterday that Aster and I were cavorting with a legend. Turns out this pony has a name: Sandy. And it's been around for a long, long, long time. I realized I may have stumbled on something within minutes after sending out the email yesterday. Mary from Battle Creek emailed me simply: "The penny horse has a name and her name is Sandy."
Meanwhile, another reader sent me a note: "I got to ride that pony at Meijers when I was a kid. One time (48 years ago), the pony did not stop. I rode for 20 minutes - until the store manager pulled the plug."
Sandy even has a Facebook page, although whoever started it got it wrong, Sandy is a pony. Sheesh, even Aster corrected me on that the other day before she rode it. I called it a horse and Aster said "It's a pony, dada."
Pony, horse, it's a penny well-spent!