Back in the early 1980’s, right after I started documenting diners, I was maritally unentangled (to quote the late Donald Dale Jackson), I never wanted to hang around on Thanksgiving for the big family meal. But to accommodate my late mother, I would stay at home and visit with family. But you can be sure the very next morning, I was out early embarking on a road trip, sometimes just a day trip and other times down to Harrisburg, PA or some other overnight excursion. November 26, 1982 was one of those day trips. I don’t recall the actual route, but I made it up to Brattleboro, VT, possibly by late morning. Driving north on Route 5 coming into Brattleboro, I came upon Ed’s Diner. It was a small, barrel roofed Worcester Lunch Car from the 1920’s.
After shooting the photos of Ed’s, I continued driving through Brattleboro, missing 3 other diners but somehow coming across the old Royal Diner sitting well off the road. It was being used as part of something called the Royal Yard Restaurant. I cannot recall how I even knew it was there, either someone told me about it (possibly Dave Hebb) or there was a sign pointing me to its location. This diners original location had been closer to downtown and was moved out a few years before. As I remember hearing, the diner was sitting on blocks near the intersection of Route 5 and Route 9 (where Rte. 9 goes east into New Hampshire and may have sustained some vandalism before the “Royal Yard” people took it over and relocated it to their property.
The Royal Diner, Worcester Lunch car No. 736 (1939 vintage) was altered after being installed here. It originally had the 2 side entrances and only windows across the front facade. For some reason the owner decided to remove 2 windows and install the “double” front door. Also, as the interior view shows, he made a sort of skylight or sunroof to allow light to come in to the interior. It remained here for a few years but was among the missing by August of 1988. It turned up shortly thereafter on Route 9 in West Brattleboro and has been operated as the Chelsea Royal Diner since.
Just before leaving Brattleboro, I was near the intersection of Route 9 and Route 5 and glanced over at a Tire Warehouse Store. My eye was drawn to the window and door configuration of the office for the establishment and recognized another Worcester Diner covered by a mansard roof and sporting newer windows. I took 2 photos and actually went inside. I asked whoever was working there about the diner and was told it had originally been in Keene, NH. I have since figured out it had to be the Buster Brown Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 770.
As you can see by the photos, it was a cloudy, almost dreary day 29 years ago. After photographing the Tire Warehouse, I decided to head over to Bennington and have lunch at the Blue Benn Diner. About halfway across Route 9, I encountered a very bad snowstorm. The driving got treacherous and I was a little worried after witnessing a couple of accidents. But I persevered and made it over to the Blue Benn.
I believe the last couple of shots of the Blue Benn were shot with a different roll of film as I recall running out and going into the downtown area and finding a camera shop to buy more film. It was time to start heading home and I felt taking Route 9 back was not an option so I headed south on Route 7 into Massachusetts. I knew that there was supposed to be a diner in Adams, Mass. and figured while I was out there I would check it out. I rolled into town and it was still snowing when I saw the Pier 53 Restaurant, formerly the Miss Adams Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 821. It was altered by stonework covering the exterior but was pretty much intact.
I figured that by heading south instead of east, I might be able to get around driving through mountainous roads in this snowy weather. I decided not to try going over Route 2 east of North Adams as I thought my 1979 Chevy van (without snow tires) was not up to going over that type of hilly terrain. I continued on Route 8 through Adams and was able to find a route that had one major incline. I managed to make it over that obstacle (barely, as 2 cars behind me wiped out on the hill in the snow). A few miles later, the snow turned to rain and I found my way into Greenfield. I stopped for gas and the service station attendant (remember those guys?) asked me where all the snow on my van came from ? I told him, just down the road buddy! Ah, the good old days!