In Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was our habitual stop
between the place where we were raising our kids
and where we were raised. Half-way.
In the section reserved for truckers, phones
at every table. We ate in the regular section.
Sometimes, it’s true, we stopped at the Big Boy
with its smiling effigy of the Boy, as big
as our own two boys, holding up a platter of burgers,
but the All-American was our go-to place.
Flag-waving was common then, time
of Love It or Leave It—before then
the flag flew in a foreign country,
or on the moon, a declaration,
Here an American stands, or stood,
but then flag-waving passed into jingoism,
signing hostility to those
who opposed hostilities in Vietnam.
It took quite a while before I noticed
the etchings in glass of the football hero,
the clippings about Jim Thorpe,
who’d gone to—or been kidnapped to—
the Carlisle Indian School, and I realized
the All-American Truck Stop
was named for Jim Thorpe, All-American.
Honor to Jim Thorpe, honor to those
who honored him. The All-American Truck Stop
has passed, and the Big Boy, too,
the Chinese restaurant, the tattoo parlor.
Our boys are men now, tall.
The truck stop’s a franchise. Last time
I drove through, even the building
that held the Army War College
was vacant, up for sale.
Arlene Weiner is a poet and playwright who lives in Pittsburgh. Her books include City Bird (Ragged Sky, 2016).