We stopped by the town of Three Forks MT today and visited the site of my grandfathers last restaurant “The Longhorn Cafe.” I last set foot in this town about 21 years ago. My grandfather quit running the restaurant approx 20 years ago. No one has occupied the building in the last 6 years. Otherwise the town was all the same as I remember it. I am sure a few of the businesses have changed names as my memory of the details is less than precise, yet I was able to navigate the town effortlessly with a two decade old mental map.
People from the city have a very hard time imagining everything remaining the same for two decades. There are thousands of these towns throughout the country. Of the 100 or so children that are under age 18 in this town, most of them can’t wait to flee “somewhere else” as soon as they are of voting age. Some will migrate to a city, some to another small town that is different from the one they started in. These younger migrants will be replaced by older folks who are looking to get a place with “traditional values” or a “simpler life.” For them Three Forks is an oasis from people tailgating you because you are driving the speed limit, or thinking you are backwards because you don’t have a cell phone that can access the internet (or don’t have a cell phone at all).
New is not always better and old is not always charming. I am sure my grandfathers restaurant my not have been considered charming by everyone. However I am equally sure that you cannot get the quality and assortment of pies that grandparents brought Three Forks 30 years ago. I will use this stop as my inspiration to get my father to share some of these pie recipes so that I can keep the Longhorn legacy alive even after this building falls over next year.