4 More Diners from the early 1980’s

Things have been kind of slow here at the Hotline…… OK, I am feeling kind of lazy, I admit it! I have been working on one or two things coming up including a possible book or two or three (this remains to be seen but I am hopeful). I need to get going on the author’s proposal.

Anyway, here are some photos of 4 more diners I documented in the early 1980’s that you can see for the first time here in Diner Hotline!

I will show these in order driving south from the Adirondack region of New York to as far south as Maryland.

Aviation Diner, Aviation Road and Route 9
Queensbury, NY

Aviation Diner, August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Aviation Diner, August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Aviation Diner was a typical 1970’s stone facade with spanish terracotta tile mansard environmental style diner. It was closed when I photographed it in 1981 and eventually moved from this site, (I don’t believe it was torn down). I heard it was moved south closer to the Albany area but this is unconfirmed. By 1991 there was a Papa Gino’s Restaurant built there (a Massachusetts chain) that became a different restaurant in later years.

Spa City Diner, 133 S. Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY

Spa City Diner, August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Spa City Diner, August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Spa City Diner was more than likely built on-site. I have an earlier postcard image that shows an interesting building with at least one rounded corner (on the right end) with glass blocks. The rest of the facade looks to be stucco. The building in these photos is what became of the earlier place, greatly expanded. I checked Bing street views and it is still there.

Trail Diner, Route 11, Duncannon, PA

Trail Diner, August 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Trail Diner, August 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Trail Diner is a very large Kullman Diner from the 1950’s. It still is operating, now under the same ownership as Angie’s Brookside Diner in Harrisburg I believe and is known as Angie’s Trail Diner. After I posted this, Spencer Stewart did some detective work and it seems like the diner looks completely different now, check out his comment below… there is a link to his blog showing what it looks like now.

Tom’s Diner, Route 50, Easton, Maryland

Tom’s Diner, August 9, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Tom’s Diner, August 9, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Tom’s Diner was a very large Mountain View Diner with an add-on diningroom. I am not sure it is still there. If it is, it possibly has another name.

Another look back to the early 1980’s

I recently bought a new scanner to replace the one I had for almost 10 years. I was not happy with the results I was getting from the old one, especially when scanning slides. The new one seemed to be much better and the software was more advanced, which I certainly liked.

This past weekend I felt moved to scan an image from a negative as I had not tried this with the new scanner yet. When thinking of an image to scan I immediately thought of a photo I shot on Dec. 25, 1982 of the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. It is without a doubt one of the better shots I have ever taken of that diner. I took the shot on Christmas because it is the only day during the year that the diner is closed and I could get a nice clean shot without cars being parked in front!

I wanted to scan this image as I did not have a print of it anymore. In fact I gave the one and only print I had to a producer from the short-lived Connie Chung Show (circa June, 1990). They were doing a show (or a segment of a show) on “Diners”. He had contacted me when he was researching the subject and utillized me as a sort of guide. Basically I brought him around to a whole slew of diners from Boston all the way to Northampton, Mass. and various places in between. They actually did some filming at the Agawam Diner (hence the reason he asked for a photo) where I was interviewed on camera. Unfortunately this show never aired.

So last Saturday, I checked my Diner Log database to find where I had the negative stored and got my hands on it in about a minute.  I brought out the adapter for 35mm negatives for the scanner and placed the negative in it. I checked the settings on this when the software turned on and found they were set up like I have it for slide scanning, so I went with it! Well I was pleasantly surprised to see the image come out exactly the way I remembered it! Check this out…..

Agawam Diner, Rowley, Mass. Dec. 25, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

Since I scanned that, I was in the mood for scanning some other photos from that period as a trip back in time. All these other scans came from prints and some were cropped while most of them were enhanced slightly. Here they are in no particular order….

Lido Diner – Route. 22, Spingfield, NJ

Lido Diner, photo Nov. 29, 1981 by Larry Cultrera

Lido Diner, photo Nov. 29, 1981 by Larry Cultrera

The Lido Diner was a large 1960 vintage Paramount Diner. Back in 1987, I had the opportunity to stay at the Colonial Motel down the street one weekend and took at least 2 meals at this diner. I recall they had their own bakery and served freshly baked bread. Man that was good! I did a Bing street map search recently and it seems there is a 7-11 Store on that site now.

Shirl’s Cozy Diner – Champlain Avenue, Ticonderoga, NY

Shirl’s Cozy Diner, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Shirl’s Cozy Diner, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Shirl’s was built on site (not factory-built) and was fairly small. It did not make it into the 1990’s. The lot is now used for parking for the Sunoco Station next door.

Henry’s Diner – Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Mass.

Henry’s Diner, circa March, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Henry’s Diner, circa March, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Henry’s Diner was another on-site built diner, in fact I believe it was almost triangular in shape to conform to the corner it sat on. According to my notes it was torn down by 1992. I also recall it had operated under the name of Steve’s Diner earlier. I believe I had breakfast with my dad here a couple of times in the late 60’s.

Colonial Kitchen – U.S. Route 11, Liverpool, PA

Colonial Kitchen, the former Lesher’s Diner.
Aug. 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Colonial Kitchen, the former Lesher’s Diner.
Aug. 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Colonial Kitchen, as it was called when I photographed it was formerly Lesher’s Diner, this info is from a postcard I have in my collection. It was a 1940 vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner which according to my notes was replaced entirely by another building by the mid-1980’s.

Ted’s Diner – Route 28, Londonderry, NH

Ted’s Diner circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Ted’s Diner circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

I don’t know much about this place but I do recall seeing this in the mid-to-late 1960’s. It was actually just off exit 5 of I-93 and was visible from the highway. I do not know if this is built on-site or a completely redone factory-built place. It was torn down by the mid-1980’s and replaced with another building that currently houses Poor Boy’s Restaurant and Deli. When getting this post together I realized this diner did not make it into the Diner Log database and had to search the negative file to complete my info for this.

Burlington Diner – Route 130, Burlington, NJ

Burlington Diner, May 31, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

Burlington Diner, May 31, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Burlington Diner looks like one very long building when in actuality, it is 2 diners grafted end to end. The section on the left is the original diner which is a barrel roof DeRaffele diner from the early 30’s. The right hand section was a newer DeRaffele that they grafted on and then changed the facade to look more modern as well as unified. The pylon and flared roof section on the extreme right was added, probably in the 1960’s. I do not know if it is operating currently but the building is still there and a google street map search shows it as Amy’s Omlette House, Burlington Diner.

Sam’s Lunch – 82 Lafayette Street, Salem, Mass.

Sam’s Lunch, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Sam’s Lunch, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Sam’s Lunch was built by Teirney Diners and was reported to still have wheels attached to it. I never got to go inside but managed to shoot these two photos as well as one slightly later shot before it was torn down. It disappeared by the mid-1980’s.

Lawton’s Famous Frankfurters, 1929-2010

Well, as I mentioned in the post from a couple of weeks ago, Lawton’s Famous Frankfurters of Lawrence, Mass. was slated to close at its long-time business location (since 1929) on December 31st. Due to an ongoing reconstruction project on the adjacent Falls Bridge and other mitigating circumstances, owners Joanne & Scott Curley decided not to renew their lease on the building and property.

I also mentioned in the previous post that I would take the short ride up to Lawrence and grab a couple of chili dogs and take some new photos of the place.

Lawton’s Famous Frankfurters, Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

Interior view of Lawton’s. Note the Fire Hydrant, a unique part of the ambiance of this place. Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

Interior view of Lawton’s with Denise Cultrera by the door. Note the Fire Hydrant, a unique part of the ambiance of this place. Dec. 18, 2010 photo
by Larry Cultrera

Joanne Curley at your service behind the counter at Lawton’s
Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

The infamous grill where they fry the frankfurters at Lawton’s
Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

Left-end exterior view of Lawton’s, Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

View from directly across the street, Dec. 18, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

So after I had my 2 chili dogs I snapped the above photos and was on my way home heading down South Broadway when I realized I forgot to take a very important photo, the one showing the old advertising sign for “Essem” Frankfurts! Well, I was not turning around to correct my mistake so in the back of my mind I was already planning to return on the last day.

So this past Friday, Dec. 31st we returned just after the 11:00 am opening and the place already had a line inside ordering up food!

Customers waiting on the last day of business. Dec. 31, 2010 photo
by Larry Cultrera

And I got my photo of the Essem Frankfurt sign…..

Essem Frankfurt sign at Lawton’s. Dec. 31, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

One of the reasons I wanted to get this photo is that there does not seem to be any “Essem” logos or imagery on line! The brand still exists but has gone thru some different ownerships in the last 10 years. The original Essem Frankfurts were made in Lawrence, but the brand ended up getting sold to Tyson Foods who started making them elsewhere and they became hard to get locally. I know that Lawton’s started using locally made Kayem Brand Hot Dogs. Ironically, a couple of years ago Tyson Foods sold most of their Hot Dog brands to Kayem.

Anyway, I used the above photo as a template and recreated the sign in Adobe Illustrator, check out the finished product below…..

My version of the Essem Sign.

An article about the closing of Lawton’s appeared on Sunday in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune (http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x413852113/Lawtons-closes-its-doors) …..

Lawton’s Closes its doors

By Alex Bloom


LAWRENCE — As 2010 came to a close, Lawton’s Famous Frankfurters shut its doors after 81 years.

The famed hot dog shop at the corner of Canal and South Broadway near the Falls Bridge yesterday served its last deep-fried hot dogs and chicken barbecue — at least for the forseeable future.

“I’m going to reopen,” said Joanne Curley, who owns the Lawrence shop with husband Scott. “I’m going to find something.”

Patrons flooded the shop over the last few days to get their last Lawton’s hot dogs. Curley said she sold three days worth of food on Thursday.

“I’m going to cry when I leave here today,” Curley said.

The Curleys chose not to renew their lease as work on Falls Bridge has cut into their sales. Additionally, Enel Co., which owns the Great Stone Dam and the canals that once fed power to the riverside mills in the city, is planning on doing a major reconstruction project on the canal wall adjacent to Lawton’s.

Late yesterday afternoon, customers lined up outside the shop to get their hot dogs. Patrons were still arriving after the shop closed at 4 p.m.

Brian Donahue and his wife Jennifer, Georgetown residents, went with a group of people to celebrate Brian’s 58th birthday. A Lawton’s hot dog is a yearly tradition, Brian Donahue said.

“I’m an expert in hot dogs. I’ve had hot dogs from around the world,” Brian Donahue said. “This is still the best place.”

The party arrived after the shop had closed, but Curley cooked up a hot dog just for Brian. He said the hot dogs “melt in your mouth.”

“The buns are perfect, the onions are perfect — they’re just really very good,” Donahue said.

Jennifer Donahue said that she and Brian met their future son-in-law at Lawton’s.

“We chose here,” Jennifer Donahue said.

“We had to see what kind of guy he was.”

“He ordered a hamburger, so we were really concerned,” Brian Donahue added.

Russ Croteau, 52, of Derry, New Hampshire went to grab a few hot dogs for himself and his wife.

He was waiting in line when he ran into Kim Blanchette, 52, who graduated from Lawrence High School in the same class with Croteau. The two hadn’t seen each other in 10 years and were both present to grab some final hot dogs.

“I was coming for three hot dogs and I got 16,” Croteau said. “I’m going to put some in the freezer.”

Croteau used to go fishing with friends behind the shop. He said his parents — now in their 70s — had one of their first dates at Lawton’s.

“It’s like part of Lawrence is going away,” Croteau said.

Although he’s been traveling abroad, Blanchette stops at Lawton’s every time he’s in Lawrence to get a hot dog with the works.

“They’ve just got so much flavor, even though I know it’s not good for you,” Blanchette said. “It’s the flavor.”

Beth Lucht of Lowell went with her sister to get their last Lawton’s. Lucht said she always gets the hot-dog-and-french-fry special.

The two took pictures and planned on taking photos of their meals to go post on Facebook. Lucht said she thinks its funny when people ask her if she’s tried the chicken barbecue or other food.

“And I go, ‘I don’t know, I never eat anything but a hot dog there,” Lucht said.

Rene Lavallee, 50 and a Lawrence firefighter, said he’s been coming to Lawton’s all his life.

A lifelong Lawrence resident, he was on hand yesterday with his two daughters and his nephew with the hopes of getting the very last Lawton’s hot dogs.

“They’re going to get their first and last ones,” Lavallee said.

You can keep tabs on when and where the Curley’s might reopen at a new location by checking out their website at…. http://www.lawtonsfamousfrankfurters.com/