Finally, the Abandoned Luncheonette from Hall & Oates’ point of view

Abandined-Luncheonette-cover
Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette by  LP record cover released by Atlantic Records in 1973

It is the year 2013 and with it comes the 40th anniversary of the release of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ second album for Atlantic Records, Abandoned Luncheonette. When I posted the piece on the Abandoned Luncheonette I co-wrote with Matt Simmons back in August of 2010, (see… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-story-of-the-the-abandoned-luncheonette-aka-the-rosedale-diner/)   in my mind it was the most personally satisfying as well as the ultimate tribute to a vinyl long playing record album (and cover) that had interested and intrigued me for decades and more than likely my favorite post I have ever done.

It also got the story of the diner and its owner (the Rosedale Diner and Bill Faulk) out there so everyone could see. The part of the story which was only touched upon was how Daryl Hall and John Oates knew about the old diner and how it came about being used in the photo shoot for the album cover. But as of this week that part of the story has now been written by my new friend, Michael Morsch. An experienced journalist, Mike Morsch has been executive editor of Montgomery Newspapers since 2003. His award-winning humor column “Outta Leftfield” has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, the Suburban Newspapers of America and the Philadelphia Press Association. So, without further ado here is Mikes piece on Hall & Oates and their take on the Abandoned Luncheonette!

Celebrating Hall & Oates’ DINER DAYS

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By Mike Morsch
Executive Editor

There was a time in the mid to late-1970s when fans and curiosity seekers would search out a dilapidated diner that sat in a wooded area just off Route 724 in Kenilworth. Souvenir hunters eventually picked apart the already long-ignored structure, which at one time had been the Rosedale Diner in Pottstown.

Daryl Hall still has some pieces of the old diner. “Fans came from all over the world. And unfortunately for the guy who owned it, they basically destroyed it, they ripped it apart tile by tile, piece by piece,” said Hall. “Somebody gave me some tiles from it over the years. I’ve gotten little pieces of it from fans. That’s really an unusual story.”

Indeed it is. But over the past 40 years, it’s remained an iconic story not only for the locals but for anyone who’s a fan of Daryl Hall and John Oates, the most successful duo in the history of rock ’n’ roll. That’s because the old Rosedale Diner, after it stopped being the Rosedale Diner on High Street in Pottstown and was moved outside of town and essentially left to die in East Coventry Township, became the “Abandoned Luncheonette” and a picture of it served as the cover art on Hall & Oates’ second album.

That album, also titled “Abandoned Luncheonette,” essentially put the local musicians — Hall from Pottstown and a graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School and Oates from North Wales and a graduate of North Penn High School — on the road to superstardom. It’s been 40 years since the now-iconic album’s release in 1973, and both Hall and Oates remain proud of the record. Oates goes as far as to say it’s his favorite Hall & Oates album ever.

“There’s something about it that’s very, very special,” said Oates in a recent interview from his home in Nashville. “You can’t plan something like that; it just happens. The very fact is that I’m playing the songs to this day and they sound just as good as the day we wrote them.” Both artists recall the significant role the diner played in the marketing of the album. Hall — born Daryl Hohl in Pottstown – remembers his parents taking him to the Rosedale Diner as a young boy when it was located on High Street. The diner’s owner was Talmadge W. “Bill” Faulk.

When Faulk closed the diner in the mid-1960s, he had the structure moved a few miles outside of Pottstown to some land he owned along Route 724. And its new resting place was right near where Daryl Hall’s grandmother lived. For Hall & Oates’ second album, Hall had written a song he called “Abandoned Luncheonette.” “If you look at the lyrics of that song, even as a kid I knew that only the strong survive,” said Hall in a recent interview from his home in New York. “I’ve used that theme — the strong give up and move on and the weak give up and stay — to say that the idea is that you have to make something of your life. You have to go for it. And I guess life has proven me right about that — at least in my case.”

Hall said the song is written about people who give up and people who do something with their lives. “It could have been called ‘Abandoned Lives.’ It was about people who gave up and wound up in the same place they started in, only not even as good.” He said that when it came time to name the album, he and Oates decided to call it “Abandoned Luncheonette.” And when they considered what the album cover would look like, Hall recalled the abandoned diner near his grandmother’s house outside of Pottstown. “So I said, ‘This place is all falling down. Let’s take a photographer up there and take a picture.’ So that’s what we did,” said Hall. “The cops came and threw us out because we were trespassing on somebody’s property. But we did manage to get the pictures and that’s where the concept of the cover came from. It didn’t really come from the song itself; it was just coincidental.”

In a news story that appeared in the Pottstown Mercury on Jan. 27, 1983, Faulk recalled the day in the summer of 1973 when “the two record kids” came to him and asked permission to take a photograph of the diner for the cover of their new album. “I knew the one boy, he was nice . . . poor like me,” Faulk said in the 1983 story, referring to Hall. “I said they could take a picture of it, but not go inside. It’s dangerous in there. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. They went inside anyway.” Forty years later, Oates confirms that account of the story. “We basically broke into the diner and took the picture that appears on the back of the album,” said Oates.

Oates added that the photographer, credited as “B. Wilson” on the inside sleeve of the album, was Barbara Wilson, his girlfriend at the time. She was a student then at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. A teacher of hers at the school worked with the album cover picture and gave it that “hand colored” look, according to Oates. “I look back and it’s one of the great album covers,” said Hall. “It was one of those things that just worked. It speaks as a piece of art, really. I kind of wish album covers were still around.”

Bill Faulk is also credited on the inside cover sleeve: “Luncheonette courtesy of The Man on Route 724.” The diner became a Pottstown attraction. But as Hall and Oates continued to rise to fame, fans from all over flocked to the diner to pick off pieces of it as souvenirs. It went from being merely dilapidated to being completely destroyed.

The 1983 Mercury story mentioned that representatives from the management company for Hall & Oates at the time had been in talks with Faulk to buy the diner. “I’d love to sell it,” said Faulk in the 1983 story. “It’s been destroyed by their fans over the years. They might as well buy it.” But the deal never went down, likely because the diner was in such bad condition by 1983.

“I was real glad to see the boys make it,” said Faulk at the time. “They sent me an autographed copy of the album and a T-shirt. From then on, everyone wanted a piece of it [the diner]. I was always chasing people away from it.” Hall said he doesn’t remember specifics on whether he and Oates wanted to buy the diner or what their level of interest in it was at the time. “I may have said that; I may have thought that [buying the diner],” said Hall. “But my relationship with the guy that owned the place was not the greatest. He sort of blamed me and John for destroying his property.”

Bill Faulk died in 2007 and the famous diner — which sat adjacent to the entrance of Towpath Park in East Coventry Township — was eventually demolished in the early 1980s in a controlled burn by Ridge Fire Company.

Another bit of rock ’n’ roll history — which diehard Hall & Oates fans will likely know — related to the “Abandoned Luncheonette” album involves the Oates-penned song “Las Vegas Turnaround.” According to Oates, he had met a flight attendant — they were called “stewardesses” back then — and a girlfriend on the street in New York sometime in the early 1970s and struck up a conversation with the two of them. The flight attendant’s name was Sara, and during their discussion, Sara mentioned that she and her friend were getting ready to do a “Las Vegas turnaround.” “I didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Oates. “They told me, ‘Oh, that’s where we take a group of gamblers out to Las Vegas and then we just turn around and come back.’ That’s the type of thing a songwriter hears and turns into a song.”

Oates would eventually introduce Sara Allen to Hall, the two of them would start a relationship that lasted more than 30 years and she would become the inspiration for the song “Sara Smile,” the duo’s first Top 10 hit reaching all the way to No. 4 in 1976. Unlike Oates, Hall won’t come right out and call “Abandoned Luncheonette” his favorite Hall & Oates album. But . . .  “It was one of my favorite experiences, I’ll say that,” said Hall. “I guess I would equate that with a favorite album.”

The link to the original article is here….
http://montgomerynews.com/articles/2013/02/13/entertainment/doc511a77017c794300082354.txt?viewmode=fullstory

I am happy to say that Mike Morsch told me that the post that Matt Simmons and I wrote in 2010 was a huge help in him locating period stories in the archives of the local newspapers that aided him in his research for this story and the companion piece he wrote for American Songwriter Magazine below.  LAC

Hall & Oates: 40 Years of Abandoned Luncheonette

Written by February 14th, 2013

Daryl Hall and John Oates had a choice to make. They had released their debut album, Whole Oats, for Atlantic Records to little acclaim in November 1972.

A few months later, in early 1973, famed Philadelphia producer Kenny Gamble approached the duo and wanted them to work at Philadelphia International Records as songwriters and recording artists.

Philadelphia was a happening place in those days. It was the early stages of the creation of what is now known as “Philly soul” – sometimes called “the Philadelphia sound” – soul music that included funk influences and arrangements heavy on strings and horns.

Hall and Oates could stay in Philly and work for Gamble and Leon Huff at Philly International, or they could move to New York and make their second album for Atlantic Records.

“The idea was that we had all these obvious Philly influences, it was our baby food, it’s what we are,” said Hall. “John had a real grounding in the alternative Philly sound, which was very folksy. We wanted to combine two elements – my gospel R&B experiences and John’s folk experiences – and make a hybrid record that was sort of indicative of the sound of Philadelphia.”

And that’s what Abandoned Luncheonette was all about.

It’s been 40 years since the release of that album, and both Hall and Oates are as proud of it now as they were then. Oates doesn’t hesitate to call it his favorite Hall & Oates album.

“It’s a special album. It was a perfect storm of creativity for us,” said Oates in a recent interview from his home in Nashville. “It was the right producer (Arif Mardin) in the right studio with the right musicians and the right songs all at the same time. That seldom happens, but you hope it does. Fortunately for us it happened on our second album.”

The benefit of hindsight over the past 40 years has done little to change the belief of either artist that the primary reasons Abandoned Luncheonette has stood the test of time is that the songwriting was just that good and the musicians were just that talented.

“It was very much a Daryl and John album,” said Hall in a recent interview from New York marking the 40th anniversary of the release of the album. “We were really clicking as a creative team in those days. There are a lot of great John Oates moments on that album that still really impress me.

“But things sort of evolved after that. I took on more and the balance shifted of what our functions were within Hall & Oates. But in those days, we were just kids and we were just trying.”

Oates said that now, the songs sound innocent and simple.

“But the bottom line is they still sound good,” he said. “And that’s all that really matters. Whether it sounds like another person wrote them – which to me they kind of do – that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can still play them and people still like them and they still sound good.

“And that’s the mark of a song to stand the test of time. It’s the ultimate goal for a songwriter. It’s what you hope for, the benchmark you go for every time you write a song. You don’t always attain it, but that’s your goal.”

Hall said that side one of Abandoned Luncheonette is the “magic” side. It includes one Hall-penned tune, “When the Morning Comes”; three by Oates, “Had I Known You Better Then,” “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “I’m Just a Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like a Man)”; and the co-written hit, “She’s Gone,” which was only moderately successful when it was first released as a single in 1974 but climbed to No. 7 on the charts when a remixed version was re-released in 1976 after the duo had moved to RCA Records and scored big with the hit single “Sara Smile.”

“On side one, there’s not a note on that body of work that isn’t just right,” said Hall, citing the environment in the Atlantic Records studio in which Abandoned Luncheonette was recorded.

“Aretha Franklin was walking in and out. Bob Dylan was walking in and out. Dr. John was nodding in and out. All the studio musicians were in the room regularly, and that’s the environment we cut this music in.”

Side two of the album has a different vibe, though, according to Hall. It features the influence of Chris Bond, a guitarist for Hall & Oates who wanted to be a producer. As the project progressed, Bond got more and more involved.

“Whenever you hear something that sounds Beatles-esque – when it’s obvious Beatles-esque  – you can trace that back to Chris Bond,” said Hall, who added that Bond is “an outrageously talented guitar player.”

“I have become a Beatles fan over the years, but back in 1972-73, I was not a gigantic Beatles fan. So to have that stuff as part of our arrangement was not really consistent with the character of what I wanted to do,” said Hall.

“In those days, he (Bond) was obsessed with the Beatles and I was not. So side two, if I could change anything, I’d just get rid of all that crap and let the songs be the songs.”

Side two of the album features the title track, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” written by Hall, the theme of which he said is that only the strong survive.

“It’s a song that could have been called ‘Abandoned Lives.’ It’s about people who gave up and wound up in the same place they started in, only not as good,” said Hall.

When it came time to come up with a name for the album, Hall suggested it be called Abandoned Luncheonette. He remembered that there was an abandoned diner that was near his grandmother’s house outside of Pottstown, PA. When Hall was a child, the eatery was called the Rosedale Diner and was located inside the Pottstown city limits. After closing in the mid-1960s to make room for a McDonald’s on the same site, the owner had the diner towed to the outskirts of town, where it sat unused for several years by the early 1970s.

“So I said, ‘This place is all falling down. Let’s take a photographer up there and take a picture.’ So that’s what we did,” said Hall. “The cops came and threw us out because we were trespassing on somebody’s property. But we did manage to get the pictures that we wanted, and that’s where the whole idea and the concept of the album cover came from. It really didn’t come from the song, it was just coincidental.”

One of those pictures did indeed become the album cover – the picture of the dilapidated diner – and another photo, of Hall & Oates sitting inside the diner, graces the back cover of the album. The photographer, by the way, was Oates’ girlfriend at the time, Barbara Wilson, who is credited as “B. Wilson” on the inside album sleeve. She was a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia at the time.

Unlike Oates, Hall won’t go as far as to say that Abandoned Luncheonette is his favorite Hall & Oates album.

“You can never look into the future, but I was proud of it at the time,” said Hall. “Would I have known that we’d be talking about it 40 years later? No, but I had the feeling it was going to be around for a while.

“But it was one of my favorite experiences, I’ll say that,” he said. “I guess I would equate that with a favorite album.”

The link to this original article is here… http://www.americansongwriter.com/2013/02/hall-oates

Here is Mike Morsch’s blog post on how he came about writing the Abandoned Luncheonette piece…….

OUTTA LEFTFIELD: Getting Hall & Oates on the record about iconic album

People often ask me where story ideas and column topics come from and the simple answer is that sometimes they just happen when you least expect it.
Such was the case recently involving an old vinyl record. You can read about the 40th anniversary of the release of what’s become an iconic album, back when vinyl records was how we listened to our music, (see above).

In 1973, Daryl Hall and John Oates released their second studio album, “Abandoned Luncheonette.” Although it had only moderate success early on, Hall & Oates would eventually go on to superstardom and “Abandoned Luncheonette” is generally now considered one of their earliest masterpieces.
The historical rock and roll significance of the album is enhanced for those of us who live in this area because of the photo on the front of the album, which features an old, dilapidated diner that used to be known as the Rosedale Diner that sat at the corner of High and Rosedale Streets in Pottstown. That Hall and Oates are local guys — Oates was raised in North Wales and graduated from North Penn High School and Hall lived just outside of Pottstown and graduated from Owen J. Roberts High School — is a well-known fact to many in this area. And that is the backdrop to this story.

As a kid growing up in central Illinois, my folks had a record collection that consisted of a lot of popular music from the late 1950s and early to mid-1960s. I used to wear out albums by Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Association and many more. By the time the 1970s rolled around and I got to high school, I was more into eight-track tapes, cassettes, big bushy sideburns and bell-bottomed pants. (Seventies suave indeed.) I never had my own record collection.

It’s more than 35 years later now and I recently decided to change that. For Christmas last year, The Blonde Accountant got me a turntable because I wanted to start a record collection. My original premise was that I wanted to hear the early work of some of my favorite artists and my thinking was that listening to it on vinyl would offer me the purest form of the music. It has become a process for me. I spend some time researching a band and its music, choose an album I think I’d like to have in my collection, and then go to the record store in search of the album. Fortunately, there are still a few record stores around, and there’s a certain nostalgic charm to going into one and searching through the albums.

A few weeks ago I was on the trail of “Abandoned Luncheonette.” I suspect that since I didn’t grow up here on the East Coast, I was unaware of the early Hall & Oates stuff because it didn’t have wide penetration back then in the Midwest. So I had never really heard the entire album as a single body of work. Anyone who’s a treasure hunter of sorts — be it at an antique store, garage sale or baseball card show — knows the feeling of actually finding that one thing you’ve been searching for, and that’s what happened to me with “Abandoned Luncheonette.” It was sitting in plain sight in one of the bins, and I spotted it literally as I walked in the door of the Vinyl Closet, a delightful little record shop on Main Street in North Wales owned by Jason McFarland (www.thevinylcloset.com).

I got the album for $1 and it’s in fabulous shape. Naturally, I rushed home to play it on my new turntable and it’s absolutely wonderful. I was listening to the early stages of what we now know as “Philly soul” or the “sound of Philadelphia” and it was and is a really cool vibe. As I was examining the cover art, I flipped the record over and was reading the information on the back. There, at the bottom in small print were the words, “1973 Atlantic Recording Corporation.”

Hey, I thought to myself, this year is the 40th anniversary of the release of that album. I wonder if Daryl and John would want talk about it? And that’s how a story idea is born. All I needed to do was execute. Fortunately, I have interviewed both Hall and Oates several times over the years. I have a good relationship with their manager, Jonathan Wolfson, and he has without fail always honored my interview requests and hooked me up with both artists. Hall & Oates themselves have also both been gracious with their time and their willingness to answer my questions numerous times.

I emailed Wolfson and he responded the same day saying he thought that a story on the anniversary of “Abandoned Luncheonette” was “a great idea” and that he would make Daryl and John available for interviews. Within a week I had both artists on the phone in separate interviews. John apparently is getting used to talking to me, I guess, because he started the latest conversation with, “Hi Mike, here we go again, huh?” He added that he was unaware that it was the 40th anniversary of the album until the interview request had been made.

Both Daryl and John shared their recollections about making “Abandoned Luncheonette” and the story of how they got the now-famous photographs that grace the front and back covers of the album from a forgotten diner that once rested on the outskirts of Pottstown just off Route 724. You can read all about that in this week’s Ticket section.

It all started because I found an album at a local record store for a dollar, took it home and listened to it and discovered the early sounds of Philly soul. Everything old was new again.

Man, I love it when a plan comes full circle.

Here is the link to his blog…… http://www.montgomerynews.com/articles/2013/02/12/columns/doc511abf65ee27f503963802.txt?viewmode=default

I want to personally thank Mike Morsch for finally getting this story written. We both agree that between the August, 2010 Diner Hotline post and his pieces that the whole story about this iconic album has come full circle!

Mike Morsch is a freelance writer from suburban Philadelphia and the author of “Dancing in My Underwear: The Soundtrack of My Life.” see…. http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-My-Underwear-Soundtrack-Life/dp/1622490053

The Story of the The Abandoned Luncheonette, AKA the Rosedale Diner


Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette,
1973 Atlantic Records Album Cover

Not long after I started the Diner Hotline Weblog, I mentioned that I would write about the “Diner in my Header” (the photo at the top of my blog), see…
https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2007/11/07/diner-in-my-header/.
I know a lot of “Diner People” were familiar with a similar image that dates back to 1973 and was the inspiration for my 1982 photo. So now I am finally going to keep my promise to my faithful readers and tell the story in its complete form, with the help of my friend Matt Simmons!

Back in 1991, I was asked by Randy Garbin of Roadside Magazine (now RoadsideOnline) to contribute a “Diner Hunting” story for the fourth issue of his fledgling publication (Roadside, Summer, 1991). At first I thought, which of the hundreds of diners I had documented up to that point in time would make a compelling enough tale for Randy’s faithful readers? Then it came to me in a New York minute (OK, a Pennsylvania minute) that it had to be the story of how I found the “ABANDONED LUNCHEONETTE” !!! The next part is basically what I wrote for Roadside, with a few new tweaks……


My recreation of the photo from the album cover, 2/26/1982

For those of you readers not familiar with it, Abandoned Luncheonette is the title song of an LP record album by recording artists Daryl Hall & John Oates, released in 1973 on the Atlantic Records label. The album cover featured a photograph of an abandoned diner. This cover had always intrigued me whenever I came across it in music stores. I used to say to myself, “Wow…what a great idea for an album cover.” Every so often, I would even hear the song on the radio, but I never paid much attention to the lyrics.

It wasn’t until November 1980, the same weekend I had taken my first photograph of a diner in Harrisburg, PA, that I actually came closer to finding the Abandoned Luncheonette. I was driving through New York City and had the radio tuned to an FM station. Between tunes, the DJ mentioned how he liked diners, which definitely got my attention, and then he played the Abandoned Luncheonette song. For the first time, I really listened to the lyrics. I couldn’t believe it – what a great tune! The words spoke to me and stirred something within me. I had to have this record. Needless to say, I bought this album – the first of around 15 albums in my collection with images of diners featured on the covers.

A year later while I was again visiting Harrisburg, I was sitting in my friend Steve Repucci’s living room, looking at a map of Pennsylvania and trying to locate a small road in the Philadelphia area. You see, there is a clue to the Abandoned Luncheonette’s location on the inner sleeve that mentions “the man on Route 724.” I knew that Daryl Hall & John Oates both were raised in the Philly area and figured that the diner may be located near there. I couldn’t find Route 724 anywhere on the map. There were just too many small roads with~3 digit designations to see it. But wouldn’t you know, the next morning while driving home on Route 222 through Reading, PA at around 4:30 a.m., I came upon the junction of Route 724. I couldn’t believe it! I pulled over and checked out the map. The road went only a few miles to the west, but went 30 or so miles to the east, towards Philadelphia. I knew this had to be the right road and decided that on my next trip, I would go exploring.

On February 26, 1982, I returned to Pennsylvania with Steve’s brother Scott to help get Steve moved back to Boston. Since we had some time to kill on the trip down, we bypassed through Reading and headed down Route 724. We had traveled about 20 miles or so to the east into the outskirts of Pottstown (actually Kenilworth, PA) when there it was – the Abandoned Luncheonette – sitting about 25 feet off the side of the road. This was really exciting, almost like finding the Holy Grail. It was still recognizable and looked very similar to the album cover, albeit with nine years worth of over-grown foliage. Luckily, it was the middle of winter, and I was able to duplicate the album cover photo without the bushes and trees getting in the way.


Photo of me in front of the diner,  shot by Scott Repucci 2/26/1982


Scott Repucci inside the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Left – front view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982

rosedale5
Interior shot of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Right –  front view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Left – side view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Another interior shot of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982

I have since found out the diner was formerly the Rosedale Diner, operated for years at the corner of High Street and Rosedale Drive in Pottstown. The diner was probably moved sometime in the early 1970’s to Route 724, but was never put back into service. It was certainly in sad shape when I found it and on a subsequent visit April 3, 1983, it was completely unrecognizable having had all of its stainless steel exterior stripped away. In fact, The Man on Rte. 724 himself (Bill Faulk) asked us to leave the premises.


Front view of diner completely stripped, 4/3/1983

Although it’s a shame this diner met with an untimely death, I feel lucky that I was able to find it with the slimmest of clues and document it prior to it becoming almost completely unrecognizable. Now if I could only get the original Rosedale Diner linen postcard into my collection!


Rosedale Diner postcard from my collection

Well, since I wrote that story in 1991, I was able to obtain a copy of the Rosedale Diner postcard for the collection (thanks Art Goody!). Also, within the last 5 years or so, I have become acquainted with some key people who were able to impart some more facts and info on the Abandoned Luncheonette. One of the facts I had wrong in the earlier story was when I guessed the time period the diner got moved to its final resting place. Not sometime in the early 1970’s as I surmised, but actually in 1965.

One of the people that I have managed to make contact with was Susan Norman of the Pottstown, PA area. She was able to give me some first-hand info on the diner and its history. Susan is good friends with Cindy Faulk Baker. In fact they have known each other most of their lives. Cindy is the daughter of Bill Faulk who was the owner and operator of the Rosedale Diner. In my correspondence with Susan, she was able to fill me in on some of the facts about the diner and also put me in touch with Cindy. In fact, Susan sent a nice little “care” package to me with some photos as well as an old menu cover from the Rosedale Diner, which I greatly appreciated!


Rosedale Diner menu cover courtesy of Susan Norman

Ironically, not too long after I started corresponding with Susan, Brian Butko put me in touch with Matt Simmons, around the time I started this blog in 2007. Matt was himself trying to find info on The Abandoned Luncheonette. Matt is from the Detroit, MI area and is a big fan of  Daryl Hall & John Oates’ early music. He was trying to piece together info on his favorite album cover from H&O and Brian knew that had been a passion of mine for a while. So thus began a trading of info back and forth between Matt and myself.

In the mean time, it was brought to my attention by Susan Norman that Bill Faulk passed away on November 6, 2007, (I wrote about it in the blog) and within the same week a drinking glass with the Rosedale Diner logo silk screened on it went up for auction on ebay. What a coincidence! I immediately bid on it and was determined to get it for the collection. I watched over the auction for the last hour or so of bidding and managed to squeak by in the last 2 minutes for the winning bid!


front of Rosedale Diner drinking glass w/logo


Back of Rosedale Diner drinking glass

Since then, I have continued to post all sorts of “Diner related” posts as well as other roadside topics in the almost 3 intervening years. In the back of my mind, the story of the Abandoned Luncheonette/Rosedale Diner was always lurking. Also, Matt Simmons was making inroads in gaining more info and insights while making friends with Cindy Baker and her sister, Marla LaBelle as well as their friend Susan Norman.

Recently, when I did a post on Abandoned Diners, I renewed my promise to finally do something with the story of the Rosedale. Matt contacted me at this point and said he was making another trip to Pennsylvania and after the trip, would document everything he’d learned and send it to me. Well, the middle of July came and with it an email from Matt with the promised story. I read it over and got back to him to let him know that it was a fantastic piece! I told him he was getting co-authorship of this post. (In fact, his text makes up most of it)! So here is Matt’s part of the post……

It was a summer day in 1973, and Bill Faulk was musing to his 26 year-old daughter, Cindy, about a peculiar recent event. Two young men, or “hippie boys”, as Bill described them, had walked into his restaurant, Toggs, with an unusual request.

“He said they told him that they wanted to enter some contest,” Cindy recalls.

According to Bill, the hippie boys informed him that if they won this contest, they would get to record an album of their music. A photo of the dormant diner across the street, which Bill also owned, would be perfect for the cover.

“I told them they could take a picture of it, but not to go inside,” Bill would tell a newspaper reporter, ten years later. “They went inside, anyway.”

After Bill called the local police, the hippie boys, along with their college-aged female photographer, abruptly scurried from the diner.

Fifty-two summers earlier, long before hippie boys and girls came to prominence, Talmadge William Faulk’s introduction to the world came in Prattville, Alabama. The simplicity of southern farm life was shaken at the age of seven, when his beloved mother, Annie Pearl, passed away. Formal education was forsaken shortly thereafter, stalling short of the fourth grade. Following a laborious youth and adolescence, the twenty-one year old known as “Toggs” to some and “Bill” to most, enlisted in the army at Fort McClellan. While serving in World War II, he earned promotions to the level of Sergeant and often fulfilled cooking duties for his fellow soldiers.

While on furlough in Atlantic City in the autumn of 1944, Bill became acquainted with Nancy Scheeler—a lovely twenty year-old from Pottstown, PA. Their relationship quickly blossomed, driven by a flurry of love letters penned by Bill. Having recently discovered and read the letters, Cindy declares, “My Dad was very, should I say—suave.”

A few months after meeting in Atlantic City, Bill and Nancy were married on Christmas Day of 1944.


Operating location of the Rosedale Diner, photo courtesy of Matt Simmons

Following the Allies’ victory, the newlyweds settled in Nancy’s hometown. Situated forty miles northwest of the Liberty Bell, the borough served as residence for roughly 22,000 others. In August of 1946, Nancy gave birth to Cindy. When Bill’s daughter was three and a half, he took a symbolic step toward fulfilling a longtime dream. Registering as a business owner with the State of Pennsylvania, Bill secured the name “Rosedale Diner” for his new venture. He opened his restaurant at the corner of East High and Rosedale streets. High Street, a.k.a. Route 422 at the time, was the bustling main drag in Pottstown. In addition to the cross-street namesake, the surrounding collection of homes was known as the “Rosedale neighborhood”—the most prestigious in the borough. Manufactured by Fodero Dining Car Company, Bill’s diner sparkled with a stainless steel exterior and red trim. A kaleidoscope of pink and burgundy tiles lined the interior floor and walls, and the forty-three seat restaurant featured a significant luxury: air-conditioning.


Fodero Dining Car Company builder’s tag courtesy of Pat Fodero

The Rosedale operated just a mile and a half down High Street from the Sunnybrook Ballroom, a popular dance hall in which jazz and big band musicians performed. Consequently, the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington sporadically inhabited the diner’s booths. But no famed swing-master of the time would ultimately wield as great of an impact on the diner’s fortunes as a young boy named Daryl. The youth from nearby Cedarville was often brought to the Rosedale by his parents, Walter and Betty Hohl. Betty was a local music teacher, whose son was among her pupils.


A proud Bill Faulk sitting at the counter at the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


unidentified customer & Bill Faulk sitting in a booth at the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


Bill with daughter Cindy inside the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


Great interior shot of the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

Open twenty-four hours, six days a week, operating the Rosedale required a complete family effort. Bill typically labored until at least 9:00 P.M., with Nancy joining him at 4:00 in the afternoon. Cindy spent many evenings of her youth at the diner, and at age twelve, she became part of the daily staff. She performed just about every task required at the Rosedale, until earning her high school diploma. During those six years of six-day work weeks, Cindy’s father never provided her with financial compensation for her efforts.

Of course, the Rosedale Diner did have paid staff, as well.

“Dad hired lots of pretty waitresses,” Cindy recalls.

Among them was Jean Harner, who Cindy believes was eighteen when she accepted a waitress position at the Rosedale. However, when asked if it’s possible, Cindy acknowledges that perhaps Jean actually was twenty when the diner was a baby. Jean would quickly become significant in Bill’s life, and remain so until the end of hers.


Aerial view of Rosedale Diner prior to obtaining an entryway vestibule
from Fodero Diners. (the diner came from the factory sans vestibule, I believe that Fodero designed it to have a vestibule but due to construction and set-up costs, Bill put-off having one initially. I suspect that after the diner was paid-off, Bill went back to Fodero and had one made) – LAC
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


circa 1957 photo showing newly installed factory-built entryway vestibule
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

From the Rosedale’s opening day, Bill merely leased the land on High Street. He declined opportunities to buy it more than once, balking at the asking price. In 1965, Nagle Motors, the company that held the parcel, found another party that didn’t flinch at the cost of procurement. A new franchise of a fledgling fast-food chain known as McDonald’s moved in. The Rosedale was relegated to being towed out.

As fate would have it, the dislodging of the diner was not the biggest Faulk family event of 1965. In July, three days after Bill’s forty-fourth birthday, he and Nancy welcomed their second daughter, Marla. One month shy of turning eighteen, Cindy was no longer an only child. The challenge of having a bigger family to support was compounded by the newfound uncertainty and upheaval in Bill’s professional life. The proliferation of McDonald’s had been no surprise to him. He had been telling a variety of people for years that fast food was the future of the restaurant business. With his diner now homeless, Bill decided the time to join the future was now.

He purchased land on each side of Route 724 on the southeastern outskirts of Pottstown.  Bill secured several rural acres on the north side, and enough space to open a new restaurant directly across the street on the south side. Bill claimed to have paid $6,000 to have the Rosedale towed from its bustling High Street locale and moved two miles to his new spread. He directed the diner be placed near the north edge of Route 724. And in that spot, the Rosedale sat. Empty, quiet, dark and dusty…  the Rosedale sat. Bill raised cattle on the surrounding acres, as the Rosedale sat. And sat.


Rte. 724 signs, photo courtesy Matt Simmons

Bill had his new fast food restaurant, Toggs, constructed directly across the street. Unlike the High Street location, Bill’s new eatery was isolated from the vibrancy of Pottstown life. It turned out that the most significant structure in its proximity was a private residence—Daryl Hohl’s grandmother’s house.

To enhance his pursuit of a music career by easing pronunciation, Daryl changed his surname to Hall. He met fellow southeast Pennsylvania native John Oates while they were each students at Temple University. Together, they signed with Atlantic records and released their first album in 1972. After “Whole Oats” faded with little radio play, meager sales and lukewarm reviews, the duo began writing songs for what would become the most critically acclaimed album they would ever release. One of the songs, composed by Daryl, was inspired by the diner that had transformed from a sparkling childhood memory to a dormant and downtrodden relic. So, at least one thing Daryl said on that summer day at Toggs in 1973 was true. Bill Faulk’s defunct diner would be perfect for his and John’s album cover.

On November 3rd, 1973, Daryl Hall and John Oates released their second album, entitled “Abandoned Luncheonette”. The front cover featured an exterior photo of the Rosedale, encompassed by the tall grass and shrubs of eight years of inactivity. The back cover featured a photo of the duo that was taken moments before the police arrived at the scene.

The inner album sleeve contained head shots of Hall and Oates against the stainless steel interior of a different diner, indicating that Bill’s call to the police had initially prevented the hippie boys from getting all the snapshots they wanted.

Among the acknowledgements read: “Luncheonettes courtesy of The Man on Rt. 724 and Imperial Shell Homes, Inc. (better known as ‘The Diner Graveyard’)”. Bill was sent a Hall & Oates t-shirt and what was promised to be the first copy of the album off the presses. Daryl and John inscribed the back cover, right over the picture that had been taken against Bill’s wishes.

“’Mr. Man’, your cooperation was wonderful and we love you and your family. – Daryl Hall, John Oates”.


Signed back cover of Abandoned Luncheonette album
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

Despite widespread critical acclaim, the LP would not be a commercial success for Hall and Oates for several years. “She’s Gone”, from Side A, initially fizzled as a single, only to hit number #1 on the R & B chart when covered by Tavares. The first song on side B was the title track. Its lyrics painted a somewhat pitiful picture of an antiquated couple, sitting in an empty diner, clinging to the distant days in which their youthful energy had brought the building to life. To anyone who ever knew Bill, it would be obvious that the lyrics were about him. But the song’s other fallen hero was not his wife.

“I have no doubt that the woman in the song is Jean,” Cindy asserts.

After all, by the day Daryl, John, and their photographer walked into Toggs, Bill and Jean had long been a couple. For quite some time, the marriage between Bill and Nancy had merely existed on paper. The husband and wife had moved on, mutually.

After receiving the autographed copy of “Abandoned Luncheonette”, life went on in typical fashion. According to Marla, Bill listened to the album once, and then never again removed it from its sleeve. But in 1976, Bill started to notice something surprising and disturbing. The locks on his diner’s doors had been broken, and items were vanishing from within. Random strangers were stopping by, even in broad daylight, and attempting to go inside the Rosedale. Not coincidentally, Hall and Oates had recently scored their first top ten hit with “Sara Smile”. Atlantic records quickly reissued “She’s Gone”, and it went top ten as well, drawing significant attention to the album from which it had come three years prior.

At first, the corresponding deterioration of the Rosedale was gradual. Then came the 1980’s. Hall and Oates began the decade with separate multi-platinum-selling albums in three successive years. The local hippie boys, who had dropped by Toggs with a peculiar request nearly a decade earlier, were now arguably the second most popular musical act in the world behind Michael Jackson. People came from all over the world, in search of the special spot on Route 724 at Peterman Road. The Rosedale was ravaged.

By January of ’83, township officials had informed Bill that his dilapidated diner was now an eyesore that had to be eradicated. Bill saw little choice but to plan its demolition.  News of the impending doom spread quickly, from papers in Pottstown, Reading and Philadelphia, to the city of brotherly love’s NBC affiliate. Terry Ruggles came to the site on Route 724 with microphone in hand and cameraman in tow. Bill told a story about one man who had chained the door of the Rosedale to the bumper of his car, in an effort to drag away a unique souvenir. The bumper lost the tug of war. Bill listened unsympathetically, as the man lamented his fate.


Bill Faulk, Terry Ruggles and unidentified cameraman in a TV interview
circa 1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman


Terry Ruggles interviewing Bill on camera
1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman


Bill Faulk, Terry Ruggles, Cindy Baker & Jean Harner inside Pizza World
1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman

News of the Rosedale’s numbered days also reached Hall and Oates themselves. Daryl decided that he wanted to rescue the endangered relic, and he prompted Randy Hoffman, a member of his and John’s management team, to negotiate with Bill.

“I’d love to sell it,” Bill told Michael Sangiacomo of the Pottstown Mercury.  “They might as well buy it.”

But they never did. Why the transaction never took place is not entirely clear. Hoffman, through a spokesperson, insisted that he “honestly could not remember”. Nor could John Oates, nor could Betty Hohl. Daryl Hall could not be reached for comment. Rumor has it that Bill demanded a ridiculous amount of money, and Daryl emphatically declined.

“I honestly couldn’t have seen Bill ever being willing to sell the diner, not unless someone offered him a million dollars,” mused longtime Faulk family friend, Sue Norman. Although Bill expressed in print that he would like to sell the Rosedale, Cindy highly doubts that her father meant it.

“My Dad never wanted to sell anything. Once he owned something, it was his.”

Toggs had not survived the 70’s on a rural roadside, and Bill had used his fleeting moment on the TV news to try to promote his newly remodeled restaurant across from the fading Rosedale, known as Pizza World. On March 25th, 1983, Jean was busy at the new establishment when she noticed a large bus pull up next to the Rosedale. Nine men emerged and began to pose for a picture in front of the diner. Jean charged across the street. She angrily insisted that the group leave immediately. One of the men approached her in an effort to calm her down. Jean listened as he said something along the lines of, “Wait, it’s us. You know, the guys who immortalized the place.”

Jean had not recognized him. It was John Oates. Daryl Hall was standing right behind him. The duo were on their way to perform in Philadelphia. Although no longer hippies, the boys had returned. To see the Rosedale one last time.

“That’s when she really flew off the handle,” said John.

Jean wove her central message of “I ougtha sue your asses!” with a tapestry of profanities.

“We laughed and headed on down to Philly,” John recalls.

Shortly thereafter, the Rosedale was gone. Bill received neither compensation nor consolation. Any scrap value merely made a dent in the back taxes he now owed on the massive parcel of land. Once upon a time, Bill had invested years of savings and sweat in a sparkling diner in order to become a successful businessman and provider. That sparkling diner had now been reduced to dirty, scattered debris on land he would soon no longer own.

“Dad had talked about moving back to Alabama and reopening the diner there,” Marla once offered.

“He talked about going back to his watering hole in Alabama,” Cindy said.  She then added that it never seemed a legitimate possibility.

Pizza World suffered the same fate as Toggs, only faster. At age 70, as Bill was gearing up to re-open it for his last hurrah in the restaurant business, he suffered a stroke.  Bill survived, but retired reluctantly.

Two years later, on yet another summer day, Bill was driving on Route 724 with Jean alongside him. They were having a routine conversation—until Jean didn’t answer. She died moments later, from a massive heart attack.

“I think Jean was the love of my Dad’s life,” Cindy once opined.

Bill soldiered on, and three years later, he was elated by the arrival of Marla’s son, Nash.

Bill had long regretted that he had not forged a closer relationship with his first grandson, Shawn, who had arrived slightly more than three years prior to that fateful day the hippie boys dropped by Toggs. Bill’s path to grandfatherly redemption seemed to have fallen off the map when Cindy had moved to North Carolina in 1977. But with the arrival of Nash, “Pop Pop” enthusiastically devoted his time to atoning for past mistakes and making the most of his second chance.

Proving Cindy’s declaration that he could never willingly relinquish ownership, Bill still stopped by a long-dormant Pizza World, into the early years of the new millenium. One day, while tidying up the parking lot, Bill noticed a man across the street, who was obviously struggling to find a particular spot. Bill approached him, and pleasantly asked him if he was looking for the diner.

“I used to own it,” Bill said proudly, launching into a story.

With help from family and friends, Bill continued to live by himself at his longtime home in Pottstown. By the age of eighty-six, his physical state required the constant care of a nursing home. Eleven days after checking in, and thirty four years and three days after “Abandoned Luncheontte” was released, Talmadge W. Faulk passed away on November 6th, 2007. Nancy joined him two months later, each of them leaving behind two daughters, two grandsons, and one—as John Oates described—immortal diner.

It is logical to assume that had Hall and Oates never approached Bill with their peculiar request, the Rosedale would have stood intact until his death. At the very least, the world was deprived of a rather unique estate sale. Instead, the diner crumbled under the weight of a record album cover. An album, that ironically (t-shirt notwithstanding), is the only tangible thing Talmadge W. Faulk ever received for his trouble.

Yet, with more than one million copies of Abandoned Luncheonette sold, along with countless pairs of eyes who have merely seen the cover, Bill’s Rosedale is indisputably one of the most famous diners in history. And that distinction has value—even though the diner owner himself was mystified by the worldwide appeal of two local hippie boys.

Pennsylvania Route 724 spans thirty miles, and passes through more than a dozen municipalities. Only one person in this world will ever be THE man on this considerable stretch of asphalt. And that man was Talmadge W. Faulk. Today, forty-five years after closing forever, Faulk’s diner still has significance, even to people who never once set foot in it. People like me.

On June 12th, 2010, I traveled six hundred miles from my home for what has become an annual visit with recently made, but dearly held friends. Marla’s husband, Mike, stepped several feet into thick woods, rummaging around the large infertile rectangle emblazoned by the Rosedale. While Marla, Nash, and I spotted several tiles from the floor and walls on the outskirts of the woods, Mike emerged with something I had never come across in my previous visits to the site. He extended it to me.  It was a plate, nearly 50% intact. “Would you like this?”  Mike asked.

I wanted to smile, but my jaw had dropped. I hope that somehow, somewhere, The Man on Route 724 was smiling for me.


Partial dinner plate from Rosedale Diner found in the underbrush
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


Sketch of the Abandoned Luncheonette done by Scott Moyer


Former site on Rte 724 of the Abandoned Luncheonette today.
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


Bill Faulk’s Pizza World today, another Abandoned restaurant!
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


L-R, Susan Norman, Cindy Baker, Matt Simmons & Marla LaBelle
2010 photo courtesy of Matt Simmons

Acknowledgments:

I want to thank Matt Simmons for the great job he did writing the major portion of this piece. He did what I would have liked to accomplish myself. But due to time & travel constraints as well as a myriad of other reasons on my end, I was unable to do. I also want to thank Cindy, Marla & Susan for their part in telling this story. Without their assistance, none of this would have come to fruition. Finally, thanks to Daryl Hall & John Oates for inspiring me with that long-ago album cover that intrigued me so much through the 1970’s! – Larry Cultrera

The content of this story was greatly enhanced with information contributed by:

Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle, Sue Norman, Betty Hohl, John Oates, Tim Hufnagle, Michael SanGiacomo, Nick Tosches and WCAU TV in Philadelphia.

They each have my sincere gratitude.

As does Daryl Hall, for writing the song that has led me on this remarkable journey.

…A journey that may have stalled in my corner of the world, were it not for Larry Cultrera.  Larry, thank you for sharing your Diner Hotline Weblog so that I may share my favorite story.” –  Matt Simmons

Coming Soon to Diner Hotline…. the history of the Rosedale Diner and how it came to be The Abandoned Luncheonette


Larry Cultrera finding The Abandoned Luncheontette, February 26, 1982

In an early post I did on November 7, 2007 (“The Diner in my Header”), I mentioned I would update a story I wrote in 1991 for a “Diner Hunting” column in the 4th edition of Roadside Magazine about finding The Abandoned Luncheonette, the diner on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ second LP record album. This update would include newly acquired background and info on the diner with lots of photos from my own archives as well as photos donated by friends and family members of the diner owner Bill Faulk.

I have mentioned this at least twice since then and am happy to announce that within the week, the longest post ever to appear on Diner Hotline will be posted! I am proud to say this post will be co-authored by my friend Matt Simmons who has put together the bulk of info and penned the most complete story of the Rosedale Diner ever written!

So, in anticipation of the post to be finalized, here are the lyrics to my favorite Hall & Oates tune (written by Daryl Hall)……..

They sat in an Abandoned Luncheonette
Sipping imaginary cola and drawing faces in the tabletop dust
His voice was rusty from years as a sergeant in “this man’s army”
He was old and crusty

She was twenty when the diner was a baby
He was the dishwasher, busy in the back, his hands covered with Gravy
Hair black and wavy
Brilliantine slick, a pot – cleaning dandy,
He was young and randy

Day to day, to day… today
then they were old, their lives wasted away
Month to month, year to year
they all run together
time measured by the peeling of paint on the luncheonette wall

The old sat together in the empty diner
filled with cracked china
Old news was blowing across the filthy floor
and the sign on the door read “this way out”, that’s all it read
that’s all it said

I noticed that one line in the lyrics (as written on the inner sleeve of the album) differed from the way Daryl Hall sang them. The line that said “He was old and crusty” was how Daryl sang it, on the inner sleeve it said “They were old and crusty”.  LAC