Marking 13 years of blogging, Diner Hotline style…

This coming Saturday, October 31, 2020 will mark 13 years since I started this blog. Granted I have not been very regular with my posts this year, but there is nothing “very regular” about this year anyway!

Truth be told, I am still working on my multi-year project – scanning of my diner photos/slides. I have completed scanning all the 35mm slides that I shot between March 1983 thru to mid-2008. For the last two years I have been slogging thru the scanning and cleaning up of the 35mm prints I shot between November, 1980 and March, 1983. The prints take longer as the clean-up/enhancing is fairly time consuming as I am extremely particular on how the photos should look.

To mark this anniversary, I want to look back to the origins of Diner Hotline and how it eventually morphed into this blog. Diner Hotline started way back in the early to mid-1980s (long before the internet) as an unofficial way to communicate info and issues concerning American Diners. Basically I would phone Dick Gutman, John Baeder, David Hebb or other interested people (usually a select group of like-minded members of the Society for Commercial Archeology) to let them know some tidbit of info on the goings on in the diner community. I would usually start off the greeting by saying… “Diner Hotline, Diner Hotline” and then proceed to impart the news I had to tell the particular individual that I had called.

In November of 1988, the Society for Commercial Archeology had a yearly gathering hosted by The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a memorable event with hundreds of people from all over the country in attendance. A few weeks after I attended the event, I had phoned the then President of the SCA, Michael B. “Mike” Jackson. I happened to mention some now forgotten diner news and he suggested that I should write a piece for the SCA NewsJournal. He even went as far as saying it should be a regular column! My first reaction was to almost decline as in my mind, I was not a writer. But as we continued talking, I started to warm up to the idea and basically said yes, I would give it a shot. I do recall telling Mike that I already had a name for the column – Diner Hotline.

So, in December of 1988, I wrote the first brief installment of Diner Hotline. It appeared in the Spring, 1989 issue of the SCA NewsJournal.

the front cover of the Spring, 1989 Issue of the SCA NewsJournal.
You can see the first official reference to Diner Hotline in the bottom right corner…
Page 10 of the Spring, 1989 SCA NewsJournal showing my first Diner Hotline

I continued to write Diner Hotline, which became the first ever regular column for any of the SCA publications. Within a few years, the SCA Board of Directors decided the NewsJournal was not being produced as frequently as they would have liked. After all, it sort of started as a newsletter that had actually outgrown the format and it was taking longer for all the different pieces of the puzzle to come together and be published. It was decided to revamp the concept and split the publication into a newsletter called The SCA News which would be published four times a year. They would also create a new publication, a magazine called the SCA Journal which would be published twice a year. The Board offered me the option as to which publication to contribute Diner Hotline to. I opted for the Journal as I would only have two deadlines.

I wrote all but one Diner Hotline from that first Spring, 1989 Issue of the NewsJournal until the Fall, 2007 Issue of the Journal when I officially retired the column.

The cover from the Fall, 2007 Issue of the Journal featuring my final Diner Hotline for the SCA
Page 30 of the Fall, 2007 Issue showing my last Diner Hotline
Page 31 with the continuation of my final SCA Diner Hotline
Page 36 showing the last page of my final SCA Diner Hotline

So, not long after I retired the Diner Hotline column I was convinced by long-time friend Brian Butko to create this blog. He suggested the WordPress platform to use for this new endeavor. I checked it out and made my first tentative post into blogging on October 31, 2007. Here is the link to that short piece… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/

Since that inauspicious & brief blog post, I have written many posts! Quite a few have taken a life of their own, such as an early one on local (to the Boston area) drive-in restaurants… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/drive-in-restaurants-from-years-past/ and my personal favorite is the only post that was co-written by me and someone else (my friend Matt Simmons)… the one about the The Abandoned Luncheonette, aka the Rosedale Diner, the diner depicted on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates 1973 LP of the same name…. https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-story-of-the-the-abandoned-luncheonette-aka-the-rosedale-diner/ Those two blog posts have generated the most comments by far!

But the biggest thing that happened was being contacted by The History Press in early 2011 about the possibility of me authoring a book for them on Diners. It was initially proposed as a book on Diners of New England. But I was familiar with the books that The History Press put out and I informed the editor that you could not do justice to the region with a book that only had just under 200 pages. So it was suggested that I do one on Massachusetts Diners. I agreed that would be more doable and put together an outline which was accepted. This led to me writing my first book for them entitled Classic Diners of Massachusetts (October, 2011) and ultimately my second book, New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries (October, 2014).

After these books came out, I continued to write the blog but the frequency of posts have dwindled. But I promise that I will continue to keep the blog alive and make more posts. The next one will be in a month to mark a huge milestone – 40 years of photographing diners!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!!!

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