My mom’s parents, Hazel and David, owned a gift store for many years in West Virginia. I have only faint memories of playing on the floor while Mom worked the cash register. In the ’80s, when the Huntington Mall opened a few miles up Rt. 60, my grandparents closed the shop and converted it into office space.
Suffice it to say, I’m genetically pre-disposed to like gift stores. Montana’s largest gift shop, the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, was on my way home from Hot Springs, MT. Cue the heavenly chorus! (Thanks to the Silver Dollar Bar web site for these first two photos).
If you need knives, swords, nunchucks, cheeky bumper stickers, belt buckles, huckleberry novelties, or a lacquered plaque bearing the likeness of Jesus, John Wayne, Elvis Presley, or woodland creatures, then look no further. I exercised restraint and only picked out a few post cards and a bumper sticker.
Then I savored a Missoula-brewed Dragon’s Breath Dark Hefe and took a gander at the thousands of silver dollars embedded in the bar and mounted on boards all over the walls. (Perhaps WanderChic should compare notes with Wanderlush Diary about the wild world of brewski in the Treasure State). The boards are labelled by year, and the names of the folks who’ve loaned (not given) their coins are burned into the wood.
And though the name is 50,000 Silver Dollars, a sign near the bar marked the real tally: 60, 365 silver dollars as of last weekend. After a weekend of soaking at Symes, I was more than content to sit for a long moment under high skylights, flanked by casino jingles and the murmur of a jukebox.