In the mid 1970s my family ran a kinda sorta truck stop called the Golden Spike Inn in Byers, Colorado. Every Friday after school at Sunset Ridge Elementary we’d pile in the baby shit brown Buick Le Sabre and drive out to Kiowa County. I loved the ride. I looked forward to the ride all week, every week. We’d leave the windows down and the radio up high, listening to the Allman Brothers, Tanya Tucker and Charlie Rich. We knew we were getting close when the smell of cow manure hit us like heat escaping from an oven door. We’d shriek and hold our noses until we saw the Stuckey’s, happy that the stench had subsided, but a little sad that our ride was almost over.
The things I remember most about Byers are the water tower, the swings at the school and our trailer we stayed in . I loved swinging on the empty playground, I felt like ghost. I’d look at the black school windows and wonder about the kids that went there and was envious of their lives… there.
The golden spike was great, your quintessential truck stop grub…Denver omelets, open-face chili burgers and BLT’s. My sisters and I would hang out all day and night making suicides at the soda fountain, swiping cherry Certs from under the cash register, an feeding the jukebox. To this day I’m stopped dead in my tracks whenever I hear one of those songs, which isn’t often. The jukebox was full of songs by Charlie Pride, Helen Reddy, the Kendalls, Dolly Parton, and at my sister’s insistence… Marie Osmond. Can anyone hum a few bars of ” Paper Roses” ?
I embraced this part of my life and credit (or blame) those years for my penchant for diners, Airstream trailers, Loretta Lynn and all things that smack of retro Americana culture.