1982 was a pivotal year in my life, some really good things along with one huge event. That huge event happened in January of that year when my dad Sam died suddenly at the young age of 59 (the age I currently am now). In retrospect I must have been unconsciously trying to get things going in a positive direction after my dad’s passing.
So in February of 1982, I started a temp job at Megapulse Corp. in Bedford, Mass. (a job that would become a permanent position and last 5 years). This was to this day one of the best jobs I have had due in part to the lasting friendships I had made there. Even after a layoff in 1987, I kept my bridges intact with Megapulse which eventually lead to another stint with the company from 1991 to 1995.
Also in that month I contacted John Baeder for the very first time as well as helped my good friend and roadtrip buddy Steve Repucci move back to Boston from a year and a half sojourn in Harrisburg, PA. In fact, it was on that trip to move Steve back that I located the “Abandoned Luncheonette” and was able to document it before it was ultimately destroyed within the next 2 years. Another landmark event happened early in 1982 when the movie “Diner” came out. I had been waiting to see what this movie was about and was certainly not disappointed. I made a mental note about the possibility of checking out Baltimore in the near future after seeing this movie.
The actual next roadtrip Steve and I went on was in March of 1982 (to Harrisburg again) where as I recall we actually took a little detour to Sussex, NJ to have breakfast at Prouts Diner, a 1940-ish Silk City diner that I had known thru a painting that John Baeder had done previously. When we got there I noticed there wasn’t any signage on the diner (that I recalled from John’s painting). I was kind of disappointed but took a couple of photos anyway. I don’t recall too much else from the March roadtrip, guess I’ll need to check the logbook when I have time.
Moving on to May, another great thing happened, my niece Katie was born on the 17th of that month, 2 years from the day that her parents (my brother Steve and sister-in-law Ann) were married. Two weeks later on May 29, 1982, Steve Repucci and I are back on the road to Harrisburg again. Just like the previous time we stopped at Prouts Diner for breakfast, where I was happy to see the signage back up after a remodeling had occurred to the building behind the diner. This remodeling had entailed installing new vinyl siding on the house as well as new roofing. This included a new roof structure that sloped down from the house and covered the raised section of the “monitor” roof of the diner. That is why the sign was removed temporarily!
After breakfast at Prouts, we made it to Stroudsburg where I photographed the Colonial Diner. I had seen the Colonial Diner on previous trips thru Stroudsburg and finally decided to document it. This diner it turns out was a streamlined Paramount model not too different from Rosie’s Diner (of Bounty Paper Towel commercial fame). Unfortunately the Colonial had previously acquired a stone facade over its stainless steel exterior as well as an orange mansard roof. This remodeling was to be reversed a few years later. I also found out that there was an addition built on to the diner by Fodero Diners. The workmanship on the addition matched exactly to what Paramount had originally done when the diner was first built.
There were no other diners placed in the log book for the remainder of that day or the next after getting to Harrisburg. So on Monday morning, May 31, 1982, we started back home from Harrisburg. But instead of heading northeast we went southeast to Baltimore to see if we could find the diner from the movie “Diner”.
We got down to Baltimore and went searching for the Fells Point Diner. We found the area but no diner. We must have driven Boston Street for 2 or 3 miles and did not find it. We finally stopped and asked a couple of guys and they pointed us back from where we had come. They said the diner was not there anymore. We came across the empty lot on the harbor side of Boston Street near the intersection of Hudson Street and South Montford Avenue, that upon closer examination was recognizable as the place where the diner was located for the movie.
What we later found out is that the diner was only there for the shooting of the movie. Barry Levinsion’s production company actually leased the diner (a used 1950’s Mountain View diner) from Paramount Modular Concepts (formerly Paramount Diners) of Oakland, NJ. They had the diner transported from New Jersey to the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore. When filming was complete the diner ended up back at the Paramount lot in Oakland, NJ. So needless to say we did not have breakfast at the Fells Point Diner the morning of May 31, 1982, (ironically, that diner made it back to Baltimore a year or so later and we did finally eat there).
So, having figured out that our goal for breakfast was not attainable, we started driving north on Route 40 out of Baltimore. We came across the Double-T Diner in Rosedale, MD, a diner I had known about thru a postcard I had in the collection.
After breakfast at the Double-T, we proceeded north on Route 40 and saw the closed Magnolia Diner in Joppa, MD.
Before we left Maryland we found the fantastically preserved New Ideal Diner in Aberdeen.
After leaving Maryland we came across this diner located near Hares Corners and State Road, Delaware (hard to tell which town it was actually in). It was known as the Grecian Diner at this point in time and much later, my friend Spencer Stewart found out it was once part of the Hollywood Diner chain of Delaware.
I became much more intimate with this diner years later when it was moved to Somerville, Mass., 2 and a half miles from where I was living in Medford at the time. It has been operating as Kelly’s Diner in the Ball Square neighborhood of Somerville since 1995.
After Delaware we left Route 40 and ended up on Route 130 where we saw the Deepwater Diner in Penns Grove, NJ
The Deepwater Diner remained relatively untouched until recently when it was horrendously remodeled by the current owners. No accounting for taste.
Not far up the road we came across the recently closed Joe’s No. 2 Diner in Verga, NJ, a 1950’s Fodero diner. This was another diner I had a postcard of in my collection prior to seeing it.
Continuing north on Route 130, we made it to Burlington and saw yet another diner I had a postcard of, the Burlington Diner.
We also saw Irene’s Windsor Diner on Route 130, a 1939 or 40 vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner. This had previously been the Melrose Diner in Philadelphia prior to being replaced by a large custom-built Paramount diner in the mid-1950’s.
We then got off of Route 130 and made it over to Hightstown to see the Hightstown Diner….
After Hightstown we hightailed it up U.S. Rte. 1 to Route 46 to check out Rosie’s Farmland Diner in Little Ferry, NJ. Rosie’s originally was named the Silver Dollar Diner but took on the newer name after it became famous for being the backdrop in the series of Bounty Paper Towel commercials featuring actress Nancy Walker as Rosie the waitress who was always cleaning up after her messy customers with “the quicker picker upper”. The “Farmland” part of the name was eventually dropped and it became Rosie’s Diner. Business was pretty slow that afternoon (it was a holiday I suppose) when we stopped in.
I called John Baeder on the payphone from Rosie’s as he was in New York City doing a marathon rewrite for his soon to be published book, “Gas, Food, and Lodging” that weekend and I was hoping to finally meet him face to face.
He told me on the phone that he was really busy with the rewrite but that he may be able to break away and that I should call him when we had crossed the river and made it into the city. So off we went thru the Holland Tunnel and ended up in lower Manhattan where I photographed the Square Diner on Leonard Street.
We then drove uptown to see the former Kitchenette Diner that operated for years in East Cambridge, Mass. It had been moved from Cambridge to the Allston section of Boston by a man named Tony Bosco. Bosco located it next door to his “House” Restaurant and did a slight sprucing up of the diner and sold ice cream from it for a short period of time. He called it the “Diner on Wheels”, as it still had its original wagon wheel attached. Ironically, the diner got a lot of attention when he moved it which was noticed by the producers of the locally filmed movie “The Brinks Job”. They paid Bosco some decent money to have the diner moved to a vacant lot in Reading, Mass. where they set it up for one scene in the movie.
After the diner’s short stay in Allston, Bosco moved it to New York City which is where I saw it again on this Memorial Day in 1982.
I called John Baeder on the phone when we got to the old Kitchenette and he did manage to Cab it over to the diner where I showed him my diner photo albums I had with me. We had a very memorable meeting and to top it off, we gave him a ride back to where he was doing the rewrite for the book. Needless to say this topped off the roadtrip weekend we had and made it back to Massachusetts that evening.