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.
The Yankee Flyer mural in James Aponovich’s studio.
Photo courtesy of Marilyn & Harold Solomon
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.
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:
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Matchbook cover of the first Yankee Flyer Diner, a 1930 vintage
Worcester Lunch Car
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.
Matchbook cover for the newer Yankee Flyer Diner