Artist's Lane

Where everybody knows your name


Pagosa Springs is like a magnet. It has a certain appeal that brings long-time guests and part-time residents back every year. They feel at home with good, honest people around them, and where everybody knows their name. Shopkeepers remember them. They frequent their favorite restaurant and find their table waiting.

That’s the charm of Pagosa. We stay the same and they come home. It’s like “Cheers.” It’s a place where people come searching for their identity and they find it here. Not at the Bull and Finch Pub on Beacon Hill, but on their own barstool in this little town at the base of Wolf Creek Pass.

Some of us grew up with Pagosa. We saw the first red light. We used the phone booth in front of Goodman’s Department Store. We drove old cars that broke down on the side of the road.

Everyone carried battery cables and a chain in their car just in case their neighbor needed to be pulled out of the ditch or jump-started in the parking lot.

In those days, shops and stores closed on Saturday afternoon to support the Pagosa Pirate football team. Graduation was laced with mixed emotions; young adults wanted to grow up and leave, yet wanted to stay in the protection of people who love them and cared. There was a certain pride in watching their kids and our kids grow up together.

Yes, in this little town we have the same family-owned businesses. We did business with folks back in the ‘80s. We now do business with their children. The parents have passed their honest service and strong work ethics on to the next generation. My children have moved back home and they work with their friends who they went to school with. There is truly a sense of pride that we belong to each other, in history and good character.

Pagosans have held on to core values and their faith in God. Maybe that’s the charm that brings people back to Pagosa. It’s those hometown people who still believe in God.

Some of our residents have run from the rat race of the glamorous bright lights and moved here permanently. They have found permission to throw away their razors and wear their scruffy beards and ponytails. They’ve brought their skills and savvy with them and now they take their dogs to work, and take time to hunt and fish. They have found what they were looking for.

The summer residents leave when the snow flies, but they keep their local newspaper subscriptions current so they can stay in touch throughout the year. The “Artist’s Lane” column has kept me in touch with friends who once lived here, but moved away for family or health reasons.

Through this column, I met someone from Nebraska and we became instant friends. She called recently. “I’ll be in town for a week. I’d like to get together for coffee.”

“Of course. Let’s meet at the coffee shop.” We met and talked for three hours. I told her I felt like I’d known her my whole life. Pagosa draws people who have the same spirit. They run here from their maddening crazy world to a place where they sense peace and a touch from God.

Mark Crain, one of our longtime Pagosans, moved away a few years ago. Everyone knows him from Do It Best. He was always one of my biggest cheerleaders. When I walked into his store, he’d yell from four aisles away, “Keep writing. Be nice to Sweet Al.”

When Mark moved, he left his heart in Pagosa. He’s still cheering for me miles away. He understands Pagosa and his comment from one of my articles brought a smile to my face.

“My dear friend Betty, because of West Jackson giving me this subscription to the Sun, and your precious writings, I have been revived. We look back and we should have downsized. Betty, yes, I am on Al’s side ‘take her to town!’ My old 77 red rusted Ford, now with over 400 thousand miles and some paint still left on her, doesn’t fit in this fancy Texas town. But I still drive her in.

“Several of my Pagosa friends still remind me, ‘At the 4th of July parade, the parking is not the same on Main Street because that truck of yours isn’t parked right on the curb across from Goodman’s store.’ So tell Al if she still runs ‘take her to town!’ Mark Crain” 

Final brushstroke: I know things have changed around here, but our people are still the same. We are family. New businesses and visitors who are trying to find themselves will eventually find their own barstool where everyone will know their name. Hopefully, our wonderful folks here in Pagosa can give them a reprieve. Our little town at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass is definitely healing waters for all of us.

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Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.