Remembering Nickerson Farmby Tyler Woods on Sep. 06, 2009, under Life
I drove to Phoenix this Labor Day weekend to see some old friends of mine. Getting ready to leave, I loaded my ipod and helped my spouse load the car with what I would call our survival kit, which is an ice chest filled with water and iced coffee. Since there are not many places to stop along the way to get good coffee, we take our own. This got me thinking.
The drive from Tucson to Phoenix is not all that entertaining. Oh sure, there is the Ostrich Ranch, in Picacho, and the DQ and gift shop right there as well. And there is nothing like getting a Dairy Queen to cross the desert and some yummy rock candy. (Never figured out why they call it rock candy.)
The torrential downpours along the way made it difficult to see, but there it stood in the downpour up against Picacho Peak, the old Nickerson Farms. That was a place of many childhood memories. Nickerson Farms was a roadside restaurant franchise operated there from the early 1960s to about 1979. The building had a tall, red roof that housed a huge restaurant and a gift shop that sold lots of honey items made from the honey they collected from on-site beehives.
As a child, my family and I used to go to Phoenix frequently. I hated the ride to Phoenix and generally disliked the people we visited, but what made the trip worth the while was Nickersons Farms. We always stopped; my mother deemed that they had clean bathrooms. I loved to stop and visit the gift shop. That gift shop had everything that was Arizona: moccasins, T-shirts, ashtrays, scorpion paperweights, scorpion bolo ties, even scorpion-looking candy. Speaking of candy, they featured tons of candy from the live bees they had on their property. Lots of sweet-tasting honey delights. My mother always gave us 50 cents to buy the candy of our choice.
What really stands out for me was when we stopped long enough to eat. I would order the Nickerson burger, which was a burger on a sesame seed bun with a special sauce. The fries were soggy and the burger rather dry and tasteless but gosh darn it we were eating at Nickersons. My mother and father would normally order the Nickerson chili burger, a thin patty piled high with chili and when all was said and done, we would get a shake, or at least a fountain drink to go. The explosive results of the chili burgers would accompany us all way the home, reinforcing my dislike of that drive to and from Phoenix.
The drive to Phoenix is indeed a most boring one, however, each time I pass the abandoned Nickerson Farm building, I see it as colorful as it once used to be, and see my as a child rushing in to look at the cheap and gaudy trinkets and souvenirs. I see the old beehive coloring book in the back of my mind that I used to grab when we ate there and though I never colored in it, I always tried to get one.
What do you remember about the Nickerson Farms?