Worcester, Mass. “get together” this past weekend

Ever since our initial get together at Tex Barry’s Coney Island Diner this past June 20th, Denise Bass, Paula Walsh, Kim Smith and I have been trying to repeat this happening all summer. Well we barely squeaked it out on the last official summer weekend when we all converged in Worcester at Blanchard’s 101 Diner this past Saturday.

In fact there were some added guests to this little diner trip, Gary Thomas (author of the Images of America book “Diners of the North Shore”) showed up along with Mike O’Connor (with his wife and a couple of friends) and special surprise (to me) guest Richard Gutman (who I actually was with the Saturday before).  Dick brought along his miniature dachshund “Fenway” who was a hit with everyone!

Blanchard’s 101 Diner (with Fenway looking on)
(Photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

We all were there around 10:00 am and the diner was really humming with activity! Gary and the Mike O’Connor contingent were already ensconced in a booth by the entrance. The rest of us ended up at the left front corner booth and last 2 stools on that end of the counter. The food was great as usual and we probably did not leave until after 11:00.

Looks like I was making some point during a conversation with
Dick Gutman (just out of the shot). My wife Denise is to the right.
(Photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

L-R, Kim Smith, Paula Walsh, Dick Gutman, Denise Bass &
Larry Cultrera
(photo shot by Denise Cultrera, courtesy Denise J.R. Bass)

We were all invited over to Mike O’Connor’s place in North Worcester to see his collection of restored classic cars and auto memorabilia. But more importantly to see one special piece in his collection….
Worcester Lunch Car # 705.

This diner last operated in Rye, NH as Tony’s Diner had been donated by Henry Cibrowski in the mid-1980’s to the Worcester Heritage Historical Society and was used variously as a  Tourist Information booth, Concession stand and changing room for a community theater.

After a short period of disuse, it ended up being burned in a fire caused by vandals. The city was at a loss on what to do with the derelict diner when in stepped O’Connor who said he would take it off the city’s hands and attempt a restoration.

He enlisted Gary Thomas  a furniture restorer by trade who has done an outstanding job of replacing all the burned woodwork and backbar cabinetry in the diner.

Mike O’Connor’s garage with classic cars
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

former Tony’s Diner behind Worcester City Hall – late 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

former Tony’s Diner partially restored at Mike O’Connor’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

partially restored interior of former Tony’s Diner
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Larry Cultrera taking a group photo inside the former Tony’s Diner
(photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

L-R, Paula Walsh, Dick Gutman (with Fenway), Denise Cultrera,
Denise Bass, Gary Thomas and Kim Smith

Hot Dog on the grill!

The weather was perfect that day and we all had a great time. A great way to end the summer!