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Nashua, NHs Yankee Flyer Diner mural due for restoration

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Yankee Flyer mural – August, 1997 photo by Larry Cultrera

Back in the mid 1990s I received some newspaper clippings in the mail about a proposed mural depicting the long-gone Yankee Flyer Diner. This mural was slated to be installed on the blank south facing side wall of Coronis Cleaners on Main Street in downtown Nashua, NH. The building situated right across from City Hall was next door to the long-time location of this iconic Sterling Streamliner, that was in business from January of 1940 until it closed and was removed in 1965. I am having a hard time recalling who sent the clippings – I know one of the articles came from Cynthia Burney, daughter of Chris & Maryann Kyriax who co-owned and operated the diner with Bill Reich. But I think it was Meri Goyette who was one of the people spearheading this effort back in the early 1990s that may have sent the other clippings. A couple of the articles were written by Marilyn Solomon, a writer for the Nashua Telegraph newspaper, who according to her husband Harold, was great friends with Mrs. Goyette, in fact I believe he described them as “partners in crime”!!!

Anyway, as the story goes (according to Meri Goyette)… In the early 1990s, Mrs. Goyette mentioned to Rob Wagner, the Mayor of Nashua about the possibility of getting a mural painted at a prominent Main Street location, to attract attention (as well as business) to the downtown area! Late in 1994, it was announced via a news article in the Nashua Telegraph that the city of Nashua was attempting to raise $28,000 in private funds to commission a Boston muralist by the name of Joshua Winer to paint a mural depicting the old Yankee Flyer Diner on one of the outside walls of the Coronis Cleaners building. Winer had initially been contacted by Meri Goyette who was familiar with his work during her 12 years spent in Boston, working with area artists.

Unfortunately, the news article incited some complaints from local Nashua area artists who were not happy that the powers that be went outside the city to commission a Boston artist for the proposed mural! Chief among the local artists mentioned was James Aponovich. Aponovich was quoted in a Nashua Telegraph article dated December 28, 1994 that he and his wife Elizabeth Johansson were asked the previous spring by mayoral assistant Georgie Lyons if either of them were interested in painting a mural on the Coronis Cleaners building. In fact he claims he suggested the Diner as the subject! Regardless as to who actually suggested it, a meeting was held and Joshua Winer, deciding to avoid any controversy bowed out of the proceedings.  It was summarily  decided that a competition would be held that would include local artists to submit renderings of what their murals would look like. Out of a field of twelve artists and art groups, in June of 1995, it was narrowed down to five finalists that the public had to choose from and Aponovich eventually won the commission and the mural was finally completed! I took a handful of slides back in August of 1997 (see photo above) one of which I re-scanned for this blog post.

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The Yankee Flyer mural in James Aponovich’s studio.
Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Harold Solomon

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Photo from the unveiling/dedication of the mural back in the mid-90s
Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Harold Solomon

I was contacted recently by Judith Carlson of City Arts Nashua about the current effort to raise money for the restoration of the mural which has deteriorated somewhat in the last almost 20 years of being exposed to the weather. I had seen something on-line about this and she directed me to her organization’s website for further details.

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Close-up showing some of the deterioration that has happened over
the years to the mural. Photo courtesy of City Arts Nashua

Here is the announcement for the fund raising effort…

Help Restore Yankee Flyer Diner Mural

September 08, 2015 – City Arts Nashua is working to raise funds to restore the Yankee Flyer Diner Mural on Main Street across from Nashua’s City Hall before winter sets in to avoid further deterioration. We are looking for your help in restoring this NH art treasure, painted by NH Artist Laureate and Nashua native James Aponovich. There are two ways you can help:

http://www.cityartsnashua.org/mural-projects-restorations

https://dinerhotline.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/b7d55-muralrestorationdonation-orderform.pdf

Make a Match Donation – The Burbank Fund of the Nashua Public Library has donated $5,000 to the project. If we can raise an additional $5,000, they will match it dollar for dollar.  This means your tax deductible donation will be doubled.

Buy a Print of the Yankee Flyer Diner – James Aponovich has generously donated the concept painting of the Yankee Flyer Diner he painted for the mural contest, a 10 x 25 inch oil on canvas valued at $15,000, to help fund the restoration. A limited edition of 100 signed, artist quality Giclee prints are available for $250 each; the 100 numbers will go in a raffle and the owner of the print with the lucky number will win the original painting.

Just click on either of the above links to pay by check or credit card (with a processing fee). For an on-line donation, just use the DONATE TO YANKEE FLYER button above.

Thank you for your support if restoring this important piece of public art – the only public mural of a classic American diner anywhere in the United States. For any questions, contact:  Judith.carlson@cityartsnashua.org

http://www.cityartsnashua.org/home/2015/7/3/aponovich-prints-painting-help-restore-yankee-flyer-diner-mural

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James Aponovich donating the original concept painting for the
fund raising raffle to City Arts Nashua’s Judith Carlson.
Photo courtesy of City Arts Nashua

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James Aponovich signing a Giclee print of the mural.
Photo courtesy of City Arts Nashua

A little background/history of this diner is in order…

On a visit to Nashua (on the way to Keene) William (Bill) Reich & Chris Kyriax had stopped to see Reich’s friend, Attorney Robert Early. Early took them to the Main Street Diner and as the story goes – they never made it to Keene. They decided to buy the 1928 vintage Worcester Lunch Car No. 616, which was a 12’ x 36’ barrel roof model and more than likely the current Joanne’s Kitchen & Coffee Shoppe. Within a short time, the partners bought another diner across the street that was originally operated by Arthur Ryan. They ran both until 1930 when they consolidated efforts in the newer location and bought a larger Worcester Lunch Car No. 657. Delivered on April 2, 1930, this was a 14′ x 36′ monitor roof model called the Yankee Flyer Diner. This diner became very popular and by 1939 they ordered a new diner from J. B. Judkins Company out of Merrimac, Massachusetts. This was a prototype of their soon to be new production model, the Sterling Streamliner! This diner opened in April of 1940 and continued until 1965. I have heard from several souces the stremliner was moved to Newburyport, Mass. and never put back into service.

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Matchbook cover of the first Yankee Flyer Diner, a 1930 vintage
Worcester Lunch Car
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The 1939 vintage Sterling Streamliner being installed in early 1940.
The 1930 vintage Yankee Flyer is still on site to the left.
Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Harold Solomon.
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Matchbook cover for the newer Yankee Flyer Diner

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Yann DePierrefeu Photo of the Yankee Flyer Diner.
Photo from the collection of Larry Cultrera

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The former Fish Tale Diner of Salisbury, Mass. suffers fire damage

The restaurant currently known as The Deck, located at the Bridge Marina on Rings Island, hard by the bank of the Merrimack River in Salisbury, Massachusetts suffered a fire on August 22, 2015. Within sight of U.S. Rte. 1 where it crosses the river between Newburyport and Salisbury, the restaurant, formerly known as the Fish Tale Diner (until 2012) experienced heat, water and smoke damage from the fire that appears to have started outside the attached kitchen annex. At the time of this writing the fire was still of an undetermined origin.

Here is the text from an article written by Alexandra Koktsidis for the Boston Globe on August 22, 2016…

Salisbury restaurant damaged in fire
No injuries in early two-alarm blaze
By Alexandra Koktsidis

GLOBE CORRESPONDENT

Conrad Audette, who co-owns The Deck with his father, woke up abruptly at 7 a.m. Saturday when his fiancée ex­claimed that the restaurant was on fire. “I leapt out of bed and ran outside to see smoke down the street,” Audette, who lives near the family’s restaurant in Salisbury, said in an e-mail Saturday. An employee who had spot­ted the fire from the Newburyport Turnpike bridge went im­mediately to Audette’s home to tell him.

A two-alarm fire severely damaged the kitchen of The Deck, a popular and recently renovated seasonal waterfront restaurant in Salisbury, offi­cials said. Located at 179 Bridge Road, The Deck features out­door seating and picturesque views overlooking the Merri­mack River. Reports of the fire were called in at 7:11 a.m., said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Cook, who said no injuries were reported. The fire had been extin­guished by 9 a.m., but fire- • fighters and investigators re­mained on scene into the af­ternoon, he said. “The restaurant opens at 11 a.m., so this was before em­ployees arrive,” Audette said.

“The inspectors still don’t know the cause, but it appar­ently began outside.”Audette said the kitchen and inside seating area of the restaurant were badly dam­aged, but the two decks were intact. The restaurant had made renovations over the past winter, adding a prep room and second deck to dou­ble its capacity. It reopened May 15. “We are a scratch kitchen with a simple menu, but take great care in supporting local ingredients,” Audette said. The Deck offers fresh seafood, pub food, and salads. “We grind our own burgers, bake our own buns, make our dressings and sauces,” Audette said.

Audette said that he doesn’t know how long The Deck, which would have shut for the season in October, will stay closed. “We plan on starting our rebuild as soon as we can,” he said. Susan Turner of Topsfield has dined at The Deck several times with her husband and friends, and she said she en­joys the restaurant’s burgers, swordfish — and Rum Bucket drinks, served in a sand pail with Swedish Fish. “I leapt out of bed and ran outside to see smoke down the street”. Turner heard about the fire on Facebook. “I just thought, ‘Oh, that’s sad!’ It’s a place we love to go, and we feel so badly for the owners,” she said over the phone Saturday.

The Deck opened in July 2013. A restaurant called The Fish Tail had been there. “We saved everything we could for historical respect,” Audette said, including stained-glass windows and hand-crafted cabinets. “Much of the damage was to the origi­nal structure unfortunately,” Audette said. On Saturday, the restau­rant’s Facebook page posted a message about the fire and re­ceived overwhelming support. “Thankfully nobody was in­jured during the fire this morning,” the message said. “We’re grateful and apprecia­tive of all the support.” Christi Maglio, 39, of New­buryport said she had just started going to The Deck this summer with her husband. “It’s just a very down-to-earth place to go,” she said. The nights with live music brought a sense of community, she said, and the view: “It’s beautiful.” “It’s devastating, but I know they’ll reopen as soon as possible;’ she said. Alexandra Koktsidis can be reached at alexandra.koktsidis @globe.com.
Follow her on
Twitter @akoktsidis.

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Worcester Lunch Car No. 762 as the Fish Tale Diner.
March 2012 photo by Larry Cultrera

The former diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 762 was built in 1940 and delivered to its first operating location in Ipswich, Massachusetts where it traded as the Agawam Diner from 1940 to 1947 when it was replaced by a larger streamlined diner also built by Worcester. After the diner left Ipswich it was briefly located in Brunswick, Maine (1947-1950, although I am not sure it actually operated there) before moving back to Rowley, Mass. to become one of two locations of the Agawam Diner operated by the Galanis family. It stayed in Rowley until it was again replaced by a newer diner in 1970. It was then sold and moved to Salisbury, eventually becoming the Fish Tale Diner.

When I first started going to the Fish Tale in the early 1980s, it was open very long hours and I seem to recall going there once in the middle of the night! I always enjoyed the location, possibly one of the most scenic spots I know for a diner. When the last proprietors were running it, I recall going there one summer morning and they had the doors open. They were in the habit of feeding a small group of local ducks who lived by the marina. Apparently this particular morning they were in a hurry to open the diner and neglected to feed the ducks in a timely manner. One actually came walking into the diner looking for his oyster crackers!!! I am happy to say that I actually managed to eat at the Fish Tale on the last day they were open and wrote about the diner closing in Diner Hotline – https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/fish-tale-diner-1970-2012/

After the Fish Tale closed, Mark and Conrad Audette – the owners of the marina where the diner was located demolished the old attached kitchen and replaced it with a new building that included a new kitchen as well as rest room facilities. They also did some renovations on the interior keeping the counter, stools and hood intact. They removed the original booths and tables and changed the backbar area. Keeping the attached deck for outdoor seating. the restaurant was renamed “The Deck and opened in July of 2013 and was by all accounts a huge success.

To get back to the fire, it was reported very quickly by news media outlets and was on the internet fairly early. I know I probably shared something on Facebook about it and emailed Bob Higgins my intrepid friend who was more of a regular customer of the diner than I was (he’s retired and gets around more than I do). Bob did manage to get up there before I did and talked with the owner who is hoping to salvage the diner portion of the structure and eventually reopen. I made a quick trip on Labor Day to get some photos (of the exterior only), the following photos show the structure  with the fire damage.

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The Deck Restaurant, Bridge Marina, Salisbury, Massachusetts showing
fire damage. September 7, 2015 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Deck Restaurant, Bridge Marina, Salisbury, Massachusetts showing
fire damage. September 7, 2015 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Deck Restaurant, Bridge Marina, Salisbury, Massachusetts showing
fire damage. September 7, 2015 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Deck Restaurant, Bridge Marina, Salisbury, Massachusetts showing
fire damage. September 7, 2015 photo by Larry Cultrera

The next few interior shots were courtesy of Bill Power who got up to the diner before I did and like Bob Higgins, got to go inside to inspect the damage…

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interior photo showing fire damage, Sept. 2015 photo by Bill Power

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interior photo showing fire damage, Sept. 2015 photo by Bill Power

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interior photo showing fire damage, Sept. 2015 photo by Bill Power

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interior photo showing fire damage, Sept. 2015 photo by Bill Power

I spoke briefly with Mark Audette when I was there on September 7th and he reiterated that they want to reopen the restaurant but it all depends on what the outcome is with the insurance investigation. Hopefully what is left of the diner is salvageable!