There exist certain similarities in small towns across America in my observation, and I found Whitefish to be no exception, no matter how hard it tried to reach beyond its small town status.
Adjacent to the Mountain Mall was the Food Depot, the biggest supermarket in town. Yes, there was a Safeway in town too, it was across the street. Frankly, I’ve yet to see a small western town that didn’t have a Safeway, but for whatever reason this Safeway could never attain the popular prestige enjoyed by the Food Depot.
Next to the Safeway was the bowling alley slash pool hall slash 24-hour greasy spoon called the “Pin ‘N Cue”. It had been eloquently nicknamed the “Spin ‘N Puke” by locals because it was the only place to eat after last call when all the taverns closed down. Traditionally the 24-hour restaurant in many smaller towns is Denny’s, but Whitefish didn’t get its first Denny’s until 1994, and my young daughter got all caught up in the grand opening frenzy with the rest of the villagers who were lined up around the building at dawn to get Eggs Over My Hammy - as if she’d never been to a Denny’s before. It had certainly not been a place we went to by choice and here she was, begging me to take her to the Denny’s grand opening as if it we didn’t live with CIA Chef, the king of sauces, French cuisine and anything else she could’ve possibly wanted not cooked in lard.
Further up the road, on the very edge of in-town was the Dairy Queen, definitely a small town requisite. Sing with me: “Let’s all go to D-Q Dairy Queen! The food’s more fun at D-Q Dairy Queen. We’ll have a D-Q sandwich. Maybe two or three. The food’s just great. And what va-ri-e-ty!” And no, my daughter never worked at the Dairy Queen nor did she wear frosted lipstick (an obscure “Baby Boom” reference, sorry, couldn’t resist).
After the Dairy Queen, the “93” assumed the now-you’ve-arrived name of Spokane Avenue. While the official Highway 93 would hang a sharp left due west at 2nd Street before once again veering north outside of Whitefish on its way to Canada … just beyond the cemetery, the fancy full sized golf course, the ever elite Grouse Mountain Lodge, and Lion Mountain; it was the happenings on 3rd Street that influenced my stumped town life the most. Whitefish Title Services, the escrow/title office I managed was located at the time on 3rd Street between Spokane and Central Avenues. The famous Buffalo Café was next door; and the infamous (and formerly known as) Mountain Bank was across the street and across the alley from the Frank Lloyd Wright office building where my first title office had been located.