October 1, 2010

Pie Town, NM, population 35

For the past few weeks we have heard talk about a magical place called "Pie Town." From talking with neighbors, one would get the impression that if given the choice between heaven and Pie Town, you might be strongly tempted to kick it in Pie Town. So we went. It was a long drive down rural dirt roads, past several ranches, a mountain range and over ancient lava flows. Finally, we arrived. I don't know what we were expecting exactly. Telia thought maybe it would be really touristy and have the best pie ever. Even as I write this, I am not sure if I was disappointed or charmed, but it was interesting enough to capture our imaginations.

The story of how Pie Town got its name has a few versions, but my gut tells me the most accurate is in New Mexico's Continental Divide Trail Official Guide by Bob Julyan.

"The generally accepted story tells that in 1922, Clyde Norman opened a gas station here, calling it 'Norman's Place.' He liked to bake, so when he began selling homemade apple pies he changed his sign to read 'Pie Town.' Two years later, Norman Craig acquired the station and the pie-making business (Craig' wife now made the pies) and kept the sign. The pies were very popular, not only with road travelers but also with local ranchers and cowboys.  In 1927, the citizens of 'Pie Town' asked for a post office; local lore tells that when a postal inspector suggested a more conventional name, Craig told him, "It'll either be named Pie Town, or you can take your post office and go to hell." Craig knew best: Pie Town remains among New Mexico's most intriguing place names."

For all of its notoriety, Pie Town actually has only two restaurants where one can get pie. Pie-O-Neer and The Daily Pie Cafe. Of those, one was open. So we went to Pie-O-Neer, a quaint blend of rough and tumble rancher with New Mexican New Age. The decor was historical, eclectic, rustic and somehow hip. We were the only ones there.

When we asked the hostess if we could purchase an entire pie, she blushed and confessed they didn't have one, but offered us a "Pie-pourri," which amounts to putting left over pie slices into one pan. They only make 12 pies a day.

Telia and I shared a slice of peach pie. It was good. The crust alone evidenced lots of pie practice, but we should have had it heated up and sprung for the vanilla ice cream. The owner came out and let us sign the guest book. He used to be a medical illustrator at a teaching hospital in Virginia, but moved to Pie Town where he could better pursue his love for astronomy. He was a tall, lean, tan, soft spoken buddhist and I liked him.

For more information on what makes Pie Town tick check out www.pie-o-neer.com

Rte 603 to Pie Town, NM
Welcome to Pie Town
A gaggle of windmills on the way into downtown Pie Town

Sign for the Daily Pie Cafe. It was closed. 
Pie-O-Neer. You know its fancy because the plastic flamingoes

The other pie place. Also a notary public.
Is this the original "Norman's Place"?

1 comment:

Darlene Anderson said...

Charm, adventure, individuals "doin' it their way or just hit the highway", creativity, ranchers and pie makers. Gosh, I love New Mexico; it's good to know places like this are still around and my son and his sweet, little family are exploring it's corners. Keep passing the stories along to me; I am your "arm chair" traveling companion.