The legend of The Pink Mountain

The mind can play tricks on you, especially as you get older. Yes, I am getting older by the day. And I feel every day of it.

That's why it's nice to know that some things don't change, even if our memories of them are not quite what they should be.

I was reminded of all these things last week when I managed to return to one of my old childhood haunts.

That would be North East, Md., where my father Heron's Cut Rate on Main Street. It was a classic old soda fountain and luncheonette, along with sales of patent medicines.

It was nice to see one of the distinguishing feature of North East has remain unchanged. It is still one way in and one way out of the town. I understand a few years back there was an attempt to change the traffic flow. I'm glad that notion failed to pass muster. It's nice to something stay the same.

Not much about the old town remains. Back in the '50's and early '60's, when my dad held forth on Main Street, North East was a tiny little town, a bit like our home town of Oxford. Both of them have changed remarkably over the years. I barely recognize Oxford some days when I drive in, now that there is a massive shopping center complete with Walmart, Starbucks and McDonald's anchoring the entrance on Route 10. But the downtown area still looks very familiar - and vibrant, complete with lots of new places to shop and eat, and now with the newly refurbished Octoraro Hotel - the Ote - back in all its glory.

Downtown North East has been transformed into a something of a mini-New Hope, with lots of curio stores and artisan shops.

Dad's old store is now the Saffron Creek shop. The old stone wall that graced the front of the store is gone.

One thing has remained, however, and I was bound and determined to once again taste one.

Legend has it that my father created a concoction at that soda fountain that still lives today.

It was called The Pink Mountain.

I talked about it so much that my daughter even recreated it as a signature drink at her wedding.

But on last week's visit I realized I had gotten one key ingredient wrong.

I was under the impression that dad's elixir was made with strawberry syrup, milk or cream, and a splash of soda water. I got two of the three right. Unfortunately, my memory failed me on the key ingredient.

The key to the Pink Mountain was cherry syrup, not strawberry.

As usual I stopped in to the Bean, Leaves, Etc. shop a couple of doors down from dad's old store to savor another Pink Mountain. That's when I saw the woman behind the counter clearly grab a bottle of cherry syrup, and I realized I had gotten the ingredients. Maybe that's why hers tasted so much better than mine.

I asked the woman is she still sells many of them. She assures me she does.

The clapboard sign on the store outside pays homage to "the famous Pink Mountain."

Like I said, it's nice to know some things don't change.

This one's for you, dad.