Gordon Tindall’s Spud Boy Diner gets nice write-up and it is almost a year away from opening!

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Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

My old friend Gordon Tindall’s newest diner restoration has gotten some nice press and according to the article I read, he has at least 10 or 11 months before he predicts the first plate of food is served. Gordon has moved and restored 2 other diners since the late 1980’s.

The first one was the Clarksville Diner formerly of Clarksville, NJ. A 1940 vintage Silk City diner he relocated from NJ to Decorah, Iowa. He spent 3 or 4 years restoring it and operated it for 6 years. Unfortunately he did not get the patronage he deserved and eventually sold it to a French television network who moved it to France.

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Clarksville Diner – Clarksville, NJ, painting by John Baeder

The second diner was originally known as the Lackawana Trail Diner which operated in Stroudsburg, PA. A 1927 vintage Tierney diner Gordon moved to Lancatser, PA to restore and hopefully operate in that town. In fact during the early part of that restoration he renamed it the Red Rose Diner in honor of the city. Unfortunately he was not able to get the property he was looking at to operate the diner in Lancaster and went looking for a new town. This led him to Towanda, PA, located on U.S. Rte. 6 in northern Pennsylvania where he was able to set the diner on a prominent downtown location. He operated that one for the last 5 years or so with fantastic results.

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Lackawana Trail Diner when it was operating as Jerry’s Diner
photo copyright by Larry Cultrera

During that time Mike Engle the co-author of Diners of New York had saved another old diner from the wrecking ball, a very rare Goodell Hardware built diner from Wellington, Ohio. This diner had operated under many different names since it was brand-new in 1927. When I came across it in the mid-1980’s, it was called the Village Diner. By the time Mike had visited it, it had been operating as Cecil’s Trackside Diner and was pretty much unrecognizable from when I had seen it.

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Village Diner, Wellington, Ohio – photo copyright by Larry Cultrera

Mike had moved it to storage in Gilbertsville, NY but was never able to do much work on the structure. He eventually decided the diner needed another saviour and immediately thought of Gordon, whom he had become friends with over the last few years. Gordon came to look at the diner and subsequently could not turn down the daunting task to bring this one back to a semblance of what it looked like at one time.

Gordon, moved the diner to Towanda and started to work on it in his spare time, basically doing almost a complete rebuild. In the mean time Gordon was living in Towanda, running the Red Rose Diner and commuting every so often back to his home (and wife Val) in Decorah, Iowa.

Even though the Red Rose was a success, he really wanted to move back closer to his family. From what I understand he was taken with the little vacation spot of Lanesboro, MN and was thinking of moving the new diner project which he tentatively named the Yellow Rose Diner there to complete and possibly operate.

So he put the Red Rose Diner up for sale (the sale happened a few months ago) and moved the small wooden diner now called the Spud Boy Diner out to Lanesboro. Here is the text of the article from the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, MN about Gordon’s excellent adventure….

Lanesboro ‘Spud Boy’ eatery is Tindall’s latest project

6/26/2009 2:20:02 PM

By Matthew Stolle
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

LANESBORO Gordon Tindall has a peculiar habit. He can’t help laughing whenever he considers the strange, crazy, sometimes humorous situations his love of old diners has gotten him in.

When Tindall first came upon a 1927 diner in Gilbertsville, N.Y., it was a wreck. It had no windows, no doors, no interior. The walls were bulging out. The whole structure was a sagging mess.

Tindall, who has operated two other diners, couldn’t wait until he could begin rebuilding it.

“I guess that’s my downfall,” Tindall said, taking a break from his top-to-bottom reconstruction of the diner, now located in downtown Lanesboro. “I like fixing something I think still deserves a second chance. And this diner to me, well, there was no other one like it.”

Nearly six months into his restoration efforts, Tindall figures he is 75 percent finished with the restaurant he plans on calling “Spud Boy,” and hopes to have it open for business next spring.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” said Tindall. “Each one I say is my greatest achievement. This one far outshines the others.”

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Gordon Tindall inside the Spud Boy Diner
Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

Love at first sight

Tindall, 62, loves talking about diners, loves everything about them. It got into his blood and never left, even in years when the dining business wasn’t so good to Tindall.

The first diner he ever restored was a metal diner built in 1940. He spent four years restoring it. Two weeks before the scheduled grand opening, a drunken driver ran into it, heavily damaging the exterior.

The restaurant in Decorah, Iowa, never took, so he eventually sold it. For nearly four years, Tindall ran a diner called the Red Rose Diner in Towanda, Penn., that he rebuilt and reconstructed, before selling it to focus on his latest creation.

Tindall says it was love at first sight with his current project. What made it so unique was that this one had wheels. An archeologist who had discovered the bone of some previously undiscovered prehistoric animal couldn’t have been more excited than Tindall was with his discovery.

It was the only wheeled diner left. And even though the structure was in “terrible shape” and had never been built that well in the first place, Tindall recognized its possibilities.

“I’ll tell you, I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do this,” Tindall said.

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Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

It’s in the name

Once you get to know a little bit about Tindall, you begin to understand why he thinks he’s so lucky. Raised on a New Jersey potato farm, Tindall learned to take apart and reassemble almost anything, a skill he picked up from his dad. From his mother, an artist, came his creative side and his feel for color.

Indeed, one of the diner’s distinctive features the picture of a boy wearing a hat on the diner’s front was taken from a painting his mom did of him when he was a boy. Tindall’s nickname as a boy was Spud Boy, hence the restaurant’s name.

Restoring diners engages both sides of Tindall’s nature. And his artistic side is on full display as he moves through the small intimate space of the diner, describing little touches he has made to the restaurant, from a Smoky the Bear no-smoking sign to some old benches he found at an antique shop,

“I’m kind of half and half. I like going to art galleries, and I like going to stock car races,” he said.

Since moving the wheeled diner onto a small downtown lot in Lanesboro late last year, “Spud Boy” invariably draws stares and visitors. It slows his work down a little, but Tindall says he doesn’t mind.

“I welcome it. I like people coming by and showing an interest,” he said.

You would be hard pressed to find another person as engaged as Tindall is restoring an old restaurant. But Tindall says it’s not the most challenging project he has undertaken. That distinction would reserved for the house he and his wife are fixing up.

“If you could see that house, this diner is nothing compared to the headache this house is,” he said. “But it was the only house we could afford.”

Bobby’s Girl Diner to be auctioned

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I had heard that Bobby’s Girl Diner of New Hampton, NH has been closed recently and that it might not be reopening. Well the rumors and rumblings are certainly true with the news coming out of the Lakes Region. The Citizen of Laconia (newspaper) has reported that the diners owners, due to a couple of reasons have decided that the business is permenantly closed and the building will go up for auction next month.

Bobby’s Girl Diner was the last diner completed by the Worcester Lunch Car Company (WLC # 850). Its original operating location was on U.S. Rte. 6 in Johnston, RI, It was known as Lloyd’s Diner and had been at that location until 1988 when it was moved.

It ended up for 2 or 3 years in South Weymouth, Mass. where it was attached to a night club called Sh-Booms. Sh-Booms evolved into another type of night club and the diner was disguised briefly until that too closed.

The diner then was sold to John Keith who was brokering diners for a couple of years and Keith almost sold it to the Fat Boys Diner chain in England. That deal fell through and eventually Alexis Stewart (Martha’s daughter) bought the diner with hopes of setting it up in Bridgehampton, LI as The Delish Diner. But after moving it down to Long Island, the diner sat there in an empty field for a couple of years. It actually got broken into there and 2 stools on the left end of the counter were physically removed.

Next came Bob & Gloria Merrill who bought the diner and had it moved to New Hampton, NH to set it up as Bobby’s Girl Diner. I caught up with them shortly after the diner got on site. My wife Denise’s sister and brother-in-law lived within a stones throw of it at that time so on a visit to their home, I stopped in to see the progress.

They told me about the ripped-off stools and how they were trying to find replacements. They had talked to someone who assured them that the stools in the diner were not original equipment. In fact most Worcester Lunch Cars sported different stools so I could see how someone would think they were not originals as these were more streamlined then the normal stools.

I looked at the stools and told the Merrills that I believed they were in fact original to the diner. They asked me how I knew and I told them that I happened to have 2 stools out of the former Georgetown Diner (WLC #849) which had also been brokered by John Keith. They were identical to what they had. Keith had replaced all the stools in the Georgetown due to the fact that it had been modified when it was operated as Randy’s Roast Beef to serve a limited menu and the owners removed all but 3 or 4 stools at the counter.

Keith had traded them to me for another artifact I had in my possession and they were just sitting at my mother’s house in the cellar. So I offered them to the Merrills for short money and they were extremely happy to acquire them and complete the diner.

Anyway, now the diner is facing the next chapter of it’s life and I for one am anxious to see what happens. Here is the text from the newspaper article…

Bobby’s Girl auction set for mid-July
New Hampton:

By CASONDRA MARDEN
Citizen Intern

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
 

Citing the economic climate and changes in zoning, the owners of Bobby’s Girl Diner are leaving the business, and the classic diner on Route 104 is due to be sold at auction next month.

The Elliard family, which ran the diner over the last seven summers, said that because of changes in zoning they were no longer able to develop the close to 12 acres that the diner now sits on. Because further development was hindered, they could no longer afford to operate the business.

The diner is scheduled to be auctioned off on Tuesday, July 14, Bobby’s Girl Diner will go up for auction by Meredith Village Savings Bank.

The Elliard family would like to thank their customers and guests for their support over the years.

“We will miss you all,” said Mary, Ron, Jonathan, and Alysha Elliard in a statement about the closing.

The diner was made in 1956 by the Worcester Diner Co. and was the last diner the company built. Its original location was Johnston, R.I., where it was known as Lloyd’s.

The diner was later moved to Bridgehampton, N.Y., on Long Island where it was watched over by Robert and Gloria Merrill. After three years of sitting on blocks, the diner made one last move to New Hampshire where restorations took place. Bobby’s Girl diner opened its doors on Sept. 26, 1994.

Bobby’s Girl Diner was known locally for its clever slogans and as a destination for bike week fun.

Our friends at Vintage Roadside get some great press!

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7 Seas Cocktail Lounge T-shirt designed by Vintage Roadside

Our friends Jeff Kunkle and Kelly Burg at Vintage Roadside (website) and Vintage Roadtrip (blog) got some great press yesterday when the LA Times ran an article about them. We first made contact with them around the time I started this blog. I believe I first learned of Jeff when I saw his photos on Flickr. Anyway, if you have not been to their website or blog you can get to them by clicking on the links in my blog roll at the bottom of this page. Meanwhile here is the great piece written by Martha Groves of the LA Times Travel page that explains a little about what they have been doing…..

Road Trip

Vintage Roadside gear brings lost landmarks to life

T-shirts sport images of bygone attractions — kitschy and cool — that flourished along the byways of yesteryear.

By Martha Groves

Like many noteworthy tales, the story of Vintage Roadside began with a road trip. Oregonians Kelly Burg and Jeff Kunkle were on their fourth driving vacation along U.S. 20 through central New York, marveling at the many “roadside ruins” they encountered, when the brainstorm hit.

“One minute we were driving along talking about what a shame it was that all the old roadside places were disappearing, wishing there were someone who could do something to save the history,” Burg said. “The next minute we had pulled off to the side of the road and decided to quit our jobs.”

Thus was born Vintage Roadside, a Portland, Ore.-based enterprise that sells T-shirts with graphical depictions of long-gone diners, motels and other attractions from the days of doo-wop, before the interstate highway system sent people whizzing by without stopping.

About 2 1/2 years ago, Burg left her publishing job and her husband gave notice at the distribution and warehousing company where he worked. They began digging into the history of places that had, in their day, entertained or accommodated thousands of travelers.

From Osage Beach, Mo., came Aquarama, a popular tourist destination completed in 1931 on the Lake of the Ozarks shore. It offered an unusual combo: dinner and an underwater show. “Beautiful girls that live like fish!” “Daring Aqualads in the monster fight!” In 1965, visitors were treated to “Gypsy Dancers From Hungary,” “Bullfight in Spain” and ” The Beatles Underwater,” giving rise to a question: What exactly inspired “Yellow Submarine”?

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Jeff & Kelly created the graphics for the T-shirt below based on this vintage postcard of Gwinn’s Drive-In Restaurant.
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On their website ( www.vintageroadside.com), Burg and Kunkle invite anyone with the inside scoop to share stories about featured attractions. After posting the Aquarama design, featuring a turquoise mermaid, they heard from a woman who had worked there starting at age 15; she became choreographer of the underwater mermaid show and head “Aqua maid.”

Burg and Kunkle spend about a month researching each site, tapping historical societies, newspaper archives and residents’ memories to develop the back stories that their preservation-minded customers crave. They consult with copyright and trademark attorneys about their graphics, which are based on original advertising.

“Often the materials we use are in a deteriorated state,” Burg said. “We call ourselves guerrilla historians.”

So far they’ve added 12 designs a year, for a total of about 28. In their booth at a recent California Preservation Foundation conference in Palm Springs, they introduced two new styles: the 7 Seas, a Polynesian-themed cocktail bar, and Gwinn’s Restaurant and Drive-In, a Pasadena landmark from 1949 to 1972 famed for fried chicken and homemade pies.

The midcentury modern design of Gwinn’s, by the short-lived firm of Bissner & Zook, garnered praise in a 1948 Architectural Record article: “The horizontal motif of overlapping roof planes, the finely detailed expanse of glass and the restrained but effective ‘billboard’ all produce in this restaurant an admirably high standard.”

Gwinn’s was on legendary Route 66, now known as East Colorado Boulevard.

Another Route 66 spot was the B&B Rancho in Rialto, recalled by the community as a place with great food and service.

Other California motifs include the 7 Seas Cocktail Lounge, an early entry in the tiki craze and a hangout for servicemen stationed in Santa Barbara during World War II.

From Indio came Indio Bowl, featuring a Googie-style sign and exterior clad in split rock. It was the place to bowl in the 1960s, 24 hours a day.

Twentynine Palms offered the 29 Palms Roller Rink, built by Bill Underhill, a World War I veteran who had moved to the desert as a homesteader. He and his wife, Prudie, went on to found the town’s newspaper and build its first drive-in theater.

Kibby’s Drive-In operated in San Mateo from about 1954 to 1971. A volunteer for the San Mateo County History Museum told Burg and Kunkle that the popular spot was “quite similar to what you saw in the movie ‘American Graffiti’ . . . and the food really was that good.”

In San Diego, the Tower Bowl by architect S. Charles Lee (who also designed the Saban Theatre, originally the Fox Wilshire, in Beverly Hills and the Tower Theatre in downtown Los Angeles) featured terrazzo floors, two cocktail lounges, a dance floor, seating for 400 spectators, 28 maple lanes and an 80-foot steel tower with revolving neon-illuminated bowling balls. It was demolished in 1986 to make way for an office tower.

Reviving such stories has been fun for Burg and Kunkle, but they also hope to help save remaining roadside treasures.

They donate a part of each T-shirt sale to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its programs focused on rescuing roadside architecture and neon signs. And Vintage Roadside customers who have not previously been members of the trust also may receive a free one-year basic membership with their order.

For Burg and Kunkle, road-tripping has become a way of life. “Now that we have Vintage Roadside,” Burg said, “we drive everywhere.”

Indio-Bowl-t-shirt

Lawton’s Hot Dog Stand in Lawrence, Mass. in jeopardy?

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I saw a report on WCVB, Chan. 5 yesterday about the fact that Lawton’s Famous Frankfurters stand in Lawrence, Mass. was closed last week due to a problem with it’s location on the side of a canal. 

According to the report, Lawton’s, which has been in business since 1929 is in danger of sliding into the North Canal. It went on to say the owner was forced to close the eatery (which serves about 100 people a day for lunch) last week after the building’s shifting separated it from a deck and the septic tank.

Joanne Curley (the owner), was quoted in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune that utility work and a collapsing North Canal wall below her shop could be to blame for the building’s movement.

The company that owns the canal, Enel dispatched engineers to inspect the wall adjacent to the Hot Dog stand and they agreed that there were some issues with the structure but that these issues should not be affecting the building. It also was reported that engineers from Verizon were slated to inspect a nearby recently installed utility pole to see if that may have added to any possible problem with the structure.

I hope they resolve this issue. I myself have had a few hot dogs at Lawton’s over the years. For the longest time Lawton’s was one of the few places to get my favorite “Essem” Hot Dogs, a brand formerly made in the adjacent town of Methuen.

In fact although they may not feature Essem’s anymore they still had an old sign inside advertising the brand the last time I was there!

Images of America Pleasure Island book now available!

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I am happy to announce Pleasure Island by Bob McLaughlin, an Images of America book has finally hit the book stores! As I mentioned in a post recently, a lot of people from around the greater Boston area fondly remember this early Theme Park that only operated for 11 seasons, 1959-1969.

Bob McLaughlin’s Pleasure Island obsession grew from the small seed that was planted when he purchased 9 old Pleasure Island postcards on March 24, 2000.

I met Bob when he gave his first talk about the long-gone amusment park at the Lynn Historical Society around 2001.  He later called me up in 2002 and basically drafted me into his Friends of Pleasure Island (a non-profit group) which acts as an ad-hoc historical society with the aim of collecting artifacts and memorabilia including snapshots and home movies as well as any and all info related to the park.

The Friends of Pleasure Island also sponsored a huge extravaganza on November 29th & 30th of 2002 called “Pleasure Island Remembered” which was successful in many ways for bringing people together who were connected to the park over the years including former owners, workers and patrons. Here is the text from the back cover of the book….

Wakefield, Massachusetts

Billed as Boston’s answer to Disneyland, Pleasure Island opened on June 22, 1959. William Hawkes, president of Childlife Magazine, and executives at Cabot, Cabot and Forbes collaborated with Marco Engineering of Los Angeles to build what was called the “Disneyland of the East.” Pleasure Island rose from the wetlands off Rte. 128 into an 8o acre theme park. Through photographs, Pleasure Island recalls memories of boat rides to Pirate Cove, searching for the great white whale, driving a Jenney car, getting dizzy in the Slanty Shanty, and taking a ride on Old Smoky. At Pleasure Island, children and children at heart entered into a world that traditional amusement parks could not provide, where character actors continually put on a show and the entire park was the stage.

Robert McLaughlin is a Wakefield resident with an interest in local history. he has been researching Pleasure Island since 2000 and is cofounder of the Friends of Pleasure Island, which was established to collect images, film oral history, and artifacts relating to the park. He has selected images from private collections and the Friends of Pleasure Island’s archives to tell the story of Wakefield’s own Disneyland of the East.

I attended Bob’s first official book signing event at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Burlington, Mass. this Thursday evening, here are a couple of shots from there……

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Here is a link to get the book through Amazon….

http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Island-Images-America-McLaughlin/dp/0738564605/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244843555&sr=1-2

Notes from the Hotline, 6-7-09

Vermont’s Parkway Diner changes ownership and names

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I just received a copy of the Champlain Business Journal, May, 2009 edition. My brother Steve was in Burlington, VT last weekend for a family function and happened to see an article in the paper that he knew would interest me. On page 4 there was a story about the “former” Parkway Diner in South Burlington, VT changing ownership, and for the first time in this particular diner’s history, it is going under a different name. Here is the text from the piece reported by Rachel Cree Sherman for the above named paper.

South Burlington diner gets new name

By RACHEL CREE SHERMAN

The Parkway Diner in South Burlington has become Arcadia Diner,
and owners Bill and Naomi Maglaris, who also own Henry’s Diner in downtown Burlington, have returned the eatery to its former vibrancy.

Diners are valuable not only as American icons, but also as an important
part of Greek-American culture, said Bill Maglaris. During past decades, most diners were Greek-owned, he said.

Henry’s Diner was moved from New Jersey in 1925 by Henry Couture, who saw the successful ven- tures of Greek-{}wned restaurants in the city. When they purchased Hemy’s in 2004, the Maglaris’ sought to bring the diner back to its roots with good, moderately priced Greek-American fare. They now are following that tradition at Arcadia Diner.

 The name Arcadia is also based in Burlington history. Maglaris’s grandfather founded the Arcadia Restaurant, which operated next to the Flynn Theatre from 1906 until the early 1970’s.

The diner was moved to South Burlington from Worcester, MAin 1955 and purchased by Gus and George Lines, who owned it until 1970. George Hatgen took it over and leased it to George and Christine Albanos, who operated it for about 10 years. Hatgen remodeled it, and the Maglaris’ purchased it last fall.

The diner has been seen in images around the world, and Ben & Jerry’s recently furthered the landmark’s iconic status as a part of its newest advertising campaign.

Supported by seven employees, the Maglaris’ have added new equipment and a new menu featuring local meats, eggs and sum- mer produce, with breakfast served all day. They make their own desserts and are open to suggestions and special orders, Maglaris said.

The mailing address for Arcadia Diner is 1696 Williston Road, South Burlington. VT 05403. The telephone number is 802.651.9080.
The diner is open from 6 a.m to 3 p.m.

Images from Worcester shot yesterday

Steve Repucci and I headed out to Worcester, Mass. yesterday for breakfast. Being that there are many good diners in Worcester it used to be hard to choose but nowadays I always seem to end up at Blanchard’s 101 Diner. I can’t help it but I really like this place! Chris and Matt Blanchard have fostered a very nice atmosphere within the diner and it looks like this has brought in a nice group of regular customers that really appreciate the food, service and camaraderie.

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After breakfast at Blanchard’s we shot over to see the Blue Belle Diner. It is now just over the town line from Worcester on Rte. 70 in Shrewsbury sitting in the parking lot of Dinky’s Restaurant. The diner seems to be in good shape other then some changes and or modifications to the interior. Pretty much all of the original backbar including the hood with bill of fare menu boards and the Worcester Clock are missing and the barrel ceiling with lighting are also changed. It still has the original counter, stools, booths and tables that came out of the Worcester Lunch Car factory back in July of 1948.

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