I’ll bet a lot of my regular readers who are not connected to me on Facebook have been wondering where I have been. The last post was at the beginning of May and I have been inactive ever since! In fact it is probably the longest period between posts since I started the blog on October 31, 2007! Well some of you know I had contracted with The History Press to author another Diner book…. this new one is called New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries. It is sort of a follow-up to my Classic Diners of Massachusetts that was published almost 3 years ago – October of 2011. I actually worked it out with the publisher to have a longer lead-time with this book but outside of taking a bunch of new photos in late summer and early fall of New Hampshire diners, I basically dragged my feet in the writing department through a portion of the winter. So with the deadline looming I pushed thru the remaining time that I had, between not only working my regular job and trying to write the manuscript, I also was dealing with a health issue that had been coming on.
Back at the end of January I learned that I had Type 2 Diabetes and had to make some lifestyle changes. With the help of my wife Denise, I changed my diet by cutting back on almost all carbohydrates and pretty much all sweets as well as started walking the treadmill at a local gym. So I had to work the gym time into the schedule with the regular work and book writing, which of course increased the anxiety of getting everything done! I am happy to say that all the hard work paid off. I lost around 40 pounds since January and am no longer considered in the diabetes range. I am classified as glucose intolerant which means I will pretty much have to always watch the carbs and sweets intake and am allowed the occasional cheat. I am currently (according to my new scale) just over 170 pounds which is pretty amazing as I probably have not been this weight in 30 years or more!
April 13, 2014 with Dick Gutman after my slide presentation at the
Morse Institute Library in Natick, Mass. In this photo I am under 180 pounds and
I am actually even lighter at the time of this post!
Anyway, I also met the deadlines for the book,as the photos were submitted a week before the July 1st deadline and the manuscript 2 days before the July 22nd deadline! I approached this book differently than the first as the diner scene in New Hampshire is not as straightforward (in my mind) as Massachusetts was. In Massachusetts I was able to separate the chapters into the different regions of the state which made writing that book fairly easy. New Hampshire’s diners can be classified as either spread out or concentrated into small groups, making the regional chapters unworkable. I instead decided to break the book in chapters that touched on the strengths of this particular demographic that the state seems to dictate. Starting out with “Lunch Wagons“, I of course show some old postcards from the collection that depict lunch wagons in street scenes and then went on to feature Gilley’s P.M Lunch, the last surviving truck-pulled Worcester Lunch Car (now permanently anchored and no longer movable) in downtown Portsmouth. The other place I featured in this chapter was the Lion’s Corner Popcorn Wagon of Goffstown. I consider this a second cousin to a lunch wagon and that is why I included it here.
Chapter 2 is the longest chapter that talks about “Long-time Favorites”, basically diners that have spent their entire life (or in some cases, most of their life) operating in the Granite State!
The 3rd Chapter is about “Transplanted Diners”. New Hampshire is unique in the New England region because even though a lot of diners have disappeared or moved out of state in the last 50 years, at least 8 or 9 diners have actually been moved into New Hampshire in the last 35 years after having operated in other states previously!
Chapter 4 has the “Onsite/Homemade Diners” of which there are more than quite a few in the Granite State.
Chapter 5 is called “Former New Hampshire Diners Living Another Life Elsewhere” and deals with diners that have moved out of New Hampshire, either to a new operating location, or at the very least into storage for possible reuse.
The last Chapter (6) brings attention to some “Lost Diners”, including ones I have managed to photograph since the early 1980s as well as old postcard images of others that do not exist anymore!
A bonus that I had not planned to include was a piece on “Spider Osgood”, probably the most incredible short order cook ever to work a back bar! The idea cropped up while doing research and ended up being something that needed to be included in any book about New Hampshire Diners. Ken “Spider” Osgood was a well know character in and around the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and there are many people who have related stories about this guy over the years. I started hearing about him back around the mid-1980s and in 1989, while being interviewed by a producer for a segment on Diners for the CBS Sunday Morning show, the cameraman related a story to me about recalling this guy everyone called Spider working the grill of a diner he frequented back in his college days. So I googled his name and found this video made from a movie shot by Gary Anderson of New Hampshire Movies Inc. back in 1971. This shows Spider at his best late one night…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR1Z99XgQew
I recently got the first draft of what the cover will look like back from the publisher and besides an edit on the back of the cover this is pretty much the way it will look….
I like the mix of new an old photos on this cover as in fact this book does feature a lot of before and after shots. More than the last book! I am also glad they took my suggestion of including Mary Ann’s Diner on the cover and that it is the largest image outside of the title block! For many years I have been looking to take the definitive photo of this on-site diner and was never successful. Part of the problem (OK, most of the problem) was the fact that I was always there in the morning and it was never the best light for a photo. Finally at the end of a day shooting diners for the book back in April, I was on my way back from the Lakes Region and decided to swing by on the way home. This was around 3:00 or 3:30 pm after the place closed for the day. It was the perfect light! When I downloaded it from the camera I saw this shot and said YES! This should be on the cover of the book!
The book should be published by October. I’ll keep you posted