The Dart: Natchez woman doesn’t know how to relax

Published 12:48 am Monday, November 20, 2017


NATCHEZ — Betty Jo Moore said she does not know what it is like to be bored.

When the Dart landed on Montebello Drive, Moore was just sitting down to fill out address cards for the latest order of her most recent career: selling Avon.

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Moore, 81, got her first job at 12 years old in an old five-and-dime store in downtown Natchez, though Moore said she had to tell the manager she was 16 to get the job.

From there, Moore took positions in several department stores and local shops. She worked 30 years for a local insurance agency.

When she turned 55 and became eligible for retirement, Moore said she thought she would be able to slow down a bit.

“That lasted about six months,” she said. “I couldn’t handle it.”

Soon she got involved in Avon through a friend, and instead of making it a side job or hobby, Moore has become one of the top sellers in Natchez.

“I used to have around 500 regular customers,” she said. “After my husband died six years ago, I narrowed it down to about 200.”

Herbert “Sonny” Moore, her late husband and former Natchez Fire Chief, used to deliver orders while Betty would fill them.

Herbert had stuck with Moore through the hard times — through breast cancer, job changes and the time Moore was paralyzed and told she would never walk again.

Good times, too, are wrapped up in Moore’s memories of Herbert — the ornate Christmas decorations they would string up every year, the birth of their son and, of course, the time they got to meet John Wayne on the set of “The Horse Soldiers” in Natchez.

When Herbert died, Moore said she realized just how much she had come to rely on her husband.

When her birthday came and went on Nov. 3, Moore said she contemplated actually retiring, but said she couldn’t leave her loyal patrons just yet.

“I have to think about my customers,” she said. “I have a feeling they wouldn’t like that. I love my customers.”

Besides, Moore said, she still is not ready to slow down.

Between 200 customers — taking and filling out orders, keeping a book of who wants what and what address to send the products to — Moore is a member of her Sunday school at Parkway Baptist Church and belongs to a group of ladies that play bunco and Mexican Dominos twice a week.

“I stay busy,” she said. “I don’t know what it is to be relaxed.”

The thought of leaving Natchez — and all the good and bad memories she made here — has never crossed her mind, Moore said.

“My husband used to call this place heaven on earth, and it is,” she said. “I love Natchez. I was born here, and I’ll die here.”

Living and working in Natchez, Moore said, is the heaven she chooses.