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.

16 thoughts on “Another look back to the early 1980’s

  1. Larry – guess the scanning bug hit all of us last weekend! I’m in awe of your log book and database, as I was on the complete other end of the spectrum, with a box full of random photos. some doubles, spanning a good 5-10 years, that I played match-up with the best I could. It was fun walking down memory lane for sure.

    I have within the past year been past Amy’s Omlette House which was once the Burlington Diner and it was still open at the time. How very cool to see the other photos you scanned, just too bad that we’re both sharing so many places that are no longer with us.

  2. Larry, like your new photos especially the Lido Diner . Do you have any shots of Swingles Diner? I like the history of the Burlington Diner also. Is the Sunrise Diner still standing in Jim Thorpe, PA.? Keep up this interesting work for us please. Thanks again for all you do it sure is is appreciated!!!

    • Neil I do have shots of Swingle’s Diner after they closed. The sunrise Diner was moved out of Jim Thorpe within the last 2 years. I believe Steve Harwin saved it for future reuse. I do not know the status of it right now.

      • According to my archives, the Sunrise Diner was planned to move to Montpelier, Vermont, but the plans were not approved because the diner would be located in a flood plain. Steve Harwin then acquired the diner and that’s the last I know.

  3. Larry-

    Is that an old gas house in right background of the second photo of Henry’s Diner?
    Looks like one, although it is missing the distinctive cupola, but there looks like the base of one is at the top of the roof.
    Just curious.


    • Jack, it is a former “gas holder”. It was being used at that time possibly as a tire warehouse or something. It was missing its vent (or cupola) by that time. I recall in the mid-to-late 1960’s there was a more modern type of gas holder nearby on Southampton St. which has since disappeared. Also, Beth is right, it is a hotel now.

  4. Hello Larry-

    I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your diner writing since the days of your SCA column. I always look forward to checking out your blog and seeing what new things (or, more likely, old things) you have posted. I am thankful you had the foresight, so long ago, to document the vanishing diner landscape and, also, that you have been so generous in sharing your pictures and your knowledge.

    I do have a question that perhaps you can answer for me. I just finished watching the old Woody Allen film “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of the first shots were filmed within the beautiful wood-paneled, barrel-roofed interior of an old diner. A quick Google search indicated that the diner was the Raritan Diner in South Amboy, NJ. Sometime after the movie was made it was apparently sold and relocated to Ithaca, NY. Do you know whatever happened to this diner? The interior looked in great shape and I hope it didn’t end up demolished or left to the elements. Do you know if it was a Worcester diner?

    Thanks again. I hope we can meet sometime whenever we are back in New England doing a diner tour. Or, perhaps, you’ll come up to Alaska to make a longhaul “roadhouse” tour.

    Warm regards,
    Yukon Pete

      • To the best of my knowwledge the diner was left on the side of the road on it’s way to it’s destination and was never recovered and I think it may have just rotted away. I spent many,many, many a day eating in that diner. A truly sad ending for a truly great old Jersey diner and historic site.


  5. Mod Betty-

    I checked out the link to the Best Western Roundhouse Suites, and they actually have some misinformation on the web page. They say the structure was used to store “gasoline” for the street lamps. Most likely, it was coal gas. Here is what they say on the web:
    “The distinct BEST WESTERN Roundhouse Suites resides in a round building dating back to the 1800’s. Originally built to be used as a gas tank to house gasoline used to light up the infamous Boston lanterns, this unique building was later used in the 1930’s to exhibit motion pictures and in the 1920’s to manufacture and store lighting fixtures, but stood vacant for 60 years before this historical site was transformed into the exceptional BEST WESTERN Round House Suites for guests around the world to enjoy.”
    Even though they got it wrong, the building still has an interesting past. I’ll try to contact them to find out a little more, and maybe point out that I doubt it was used for gasoline storage. It could be intersting to find out about the movie theater use. If I find out more, I’ll send it to Larry.

  6. Hi, I’ve been intrigued by the wealth of knowledge regarding the diner history. I’m looking for places to find more information on the work of Joe Swingle (my great-uncle, as it turns out). Any tips?

  7. I was born and grew up in Salem Mass and I remember Sam’s Lunch. Unfortunately it was already closed but I do remember the building as well as the smaller brick building next to it was once a small gas station. But they are long gone and were demolished in the early 80’s

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