In 1963, my mother drove the four of us kids to Pike in our trusty “B-mobile”, a Ford station wagon. We stayed one night at the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park and watched the Old Faithful geyser erupt from our room window. I remember being delighted that there was actually a schedule of the geyser’s displays of steam. It really was as predictable as its name implied. Other highlights of the trip were the Craters of the Moon(a desolate odd park) and Wall Drug Store. If you have never driven from Portland to New York via Wyoming and South Dakota, you may not know about the Wall Drug Store. It is the only thing for miles, and billboards endlessly advertise its approach. Cars also display bumper stickers saying “Visit Wall Drug Store.” Of course we had to stop there! Ice cream and ice cold soda pop was enjoyed by all.
I was 16 by then and restless at Pike, no longer content to ride a bike and swim. I missed my friends, and had been invited to visit one in Arlington, Virginia. My grandparents arranged for a train ticket to Arlington from Pike via Washington. The closest train station was a flag stop in the near by town of Arcade. It turns out that the name is literal, and the station master actually waved a large flag to stop the train to let me on. I remember being amazed that the train would stop just for me to board.
I returned to Pike, but not until 2002 when my visit included a stop at the cemetery where my grandparents and aunt are buried. I needed directions to their plot and stopped at the little Red and White Grocery Store I remembered from my childhood. When I asked about my grandparents(who had died in 1971 and 1978) the butcher remembered them forty years later and directed me to their graves. Such are among the blessings of small towns.