While Phillip and I have several “favorite” restaurants on the hill, there is one that’s our go-to place for good food and friendly service.

Like many of you, I’ve known that place since long before I could drive. The Show Low Cafe has had several names, but ‘Maxwell’s’ was how I first knew it.

On the day after school let out in our valley farm town in the fifties and sixties, driving past the Paint Pony Lodge and Maxwell’s told us we had escaped the valley heat. The city of Show Low is a far different picture now than then, but it still feels familiar in many ways. Sure, the movie house on the Deuce is gone and the Bill’s Bar of our teens (if we were wild and crazy) is only a memory, but a lot remains, too.

When I was a kid, our summer home was between Pinetop and Indian Pine. It’s hard for newcomers to envision how far it was then between towns that have grown together. From Show Low to McNary used to be a much longer, slower and largely unpopulated trek.

Lakeside and Pinetop were very individual towns separated by long stretches of trees along a skinny old road. Then, before I was ten, Wagon Wheel boasted the only drive-in theatre up here. I don’t know when the Lakeside Summer Homes development was established, but as a kid, we knew several families already there. It’s remarkable how the subdivision’s owners have kept so much of its original atmosphere intact.

We rarely came back into Show Low through the summer, doing most of our grocery shopping at Wilbur’s in Pinetop. There were trips to the then beautiful little town of McNary to shop in the huge general store and see the occasional movie at the theatre there. Our cabin didn’t have a washer and dryer, so the McNary laundromat saw a lot of us, too. Kids got dirty in those days! Luckily, I don’t think we ever had to visit the hospital, but McNary would have fulfilled that function, too.

Most of my grunge came from Erwin Hansen’s riding stable in Lakeside. When I (ie: my Gramma) first rented one of his horses, Mr. Hansen still brought a small string of them over to the main road some days and set up next to Rainbow Lake and the old lodge. By the time he took pity on me and let me ‘work’ as a guide, the whole operation was at his historic family home behind the campground.

It was absolute heaven for me. Maybe not so much for my beloved Gramma who drove me to and from the stable most days of the many summers until I could drive.

Coming back here permanently in 2005 was a delightful homecoming and I love having the Maxwell’s gang be a part of our everyday life.

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