Personal History: 50/50 Nostalgia

On our drives from the New Haven to Cincinnati, there is a not-so-random cowboy we pass. I wave to him each trip and in both directions. He is a piece of my past that reminds me of some fond (and some not-so-fond) memories. I wrote this morning about an incident at The Pancake House, this evening I will tell you about its cowboy.

I love NOSTALGIA – the good, the bad and even the ugly…

From my childhood through late 20’s there were three Pancake Houses in the area where I lived (Fayetteville, Summersville and Beckley). It was a favorite post-Sunday-church eatery for my family when I was little. I can remember eating there as a kid, it would always be crowded. As a young adult, it was the place we all went to when the bar closed (it operated 24/7 and closed only on Christmas). For those of you new to the Fayetteville, WV area, the restaurant used to stand at the current location of Sheetz. Of course, back then, there was no shopping center on the other side of the road. It was primarily a field.

From the sparse bits of information I have found online, there appears to have been 10 restaurants total in the chain throughout WV and into Ohio. In front of (at least some of) the restaurants were these huge cowboy with his hat off, like he is waving it to catch your attention. When the chain closed down, the cowboys were sold off. There have been reported sightings in Ohio, Illinois and Florida. There is even a mention of a person owning one and placing it in their front yard. After my move to New Haven, we went to visit family in Cincinnati via Rt 32 and along the road we found this fella! This past weekend I decided to stop and take a couple pictures to post in a blog.

For the most part, nostalgia hits me and reminds me of fond times. When I stopped to take these picture though, for whatever reason, I suddenly remembered a rougher time in my life and one incident in particular.

I found the following newspaper article about the Western Pancake House in Beckley, WV:

Beckley Pancake House closing

  • By Christian Giggenbach Feb 16, 2007

A staple of the Beckley business community for nearly 30 years, the Pancake House on Harper Road will soon close its doors for good.

Co-owner Carl Kelly confirmed rumors Friday of the restaurant’s imminent closure, but said a definite date for its last day has not been set.

“Yeah, it’s getting close and we are sorry and hate the way this is going,” Kelly said by phone.

Kelly said the opening in late October of IHOP — which set up shop next door to the Pancake House — combined with warm weather earlier this winter that kept skiers away contributed to the decision by him and co-owner Kathy Fugate to close the business.

“I guess the IHOP beside us and the unusually warm weather during the ski season was it,” said Kelly, who has about 30 employees.

“We tried our best, but we just couldn’t pull it through.”

Kelly and Fugate both worked at the business prior to buying it from longtime owner Mike Darby just last spring. They have over 40 years of experience in the restaurant business between them, Darby said at the time of sale.

Kelly thanked all of the customers for their support.

“We were real happy with all of the support, but it just wasn’t enough to keep open,” he said.

I guess this really isn’t a life lesson as much as the observation that not all nostalgia is good nostalgia.

Does this hat make my butt look big?

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