Final visit to the Miss Adams Diner under current operators

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Miss Adams Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 821. August 10, 2013 photo by
Larry Cultrera

I made a “quick” trip out to Adams, Mass. yesterday from my home in Saugus, Mass. Now if some of you do not know, this trip was from the extreme eastern end of the Bay State to the extreme western end…. a 3 hour ride one way! To not waste a huge portion of the day, I left at 3:45 AM (hey, I am up at that time anyway). My route for this trip is my very favorite in Massachusetts – State Route 2 (the western portion of this road is known as the Mohawk Trail) with three stops along the way, the first for a quick off/on in Leominster for a coffee to go (McDonald’s “Newman’s Own” coffee is very good by the way – a first for me). The second stop was for gas in Greenfield and the third was a very brief 3 photo stop at the infamous “Hairpin Turn” at the North Adams/Clarksburg town line (around 6:30 AM).

So, from the Hairpin Turn, it was a 15 minute ride to my destination…. the Miss Adams Diner in the town of Adams (south of North Adams on Rte. 8). I needed to get out to visit with Philomene & Ric Belair who have operated the diner since February of 2010. I initially met them a little over 2 years ago on a photo and fact finding excursion for my book, Classic Diners of Massachusetts. The diner is one of the ones I featured in the chapter on Western Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, the Belairs have been leasing the diner and earlier this year were informed by the owner that he was putting the place up for sale. Phil & Ric could not swing the purchase price so as of this coming Thursday, August 15th, the diner will be closed.

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Left to right – Larry Cultrera, Ric Belair and Philomene Belair inside the Miss Adams Diner. August 10, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I am particularly saddened by this turn of events as I have been reporting on too many diner closings recently. I want to wish Phil & Ric well in their future endeavors and will be keeping in touch with them.

The day after Thanksgiving, 29 years ago!

Back in the early 1980’s, right after I started documenting diners,  I was maritally unentangled (to quote the late Donald Dale Jackson), I never wanted to hang around on Thanksgiving for the big family meal. But to accommodate my late mother, I would stay at home and visit with family. But you can be sure the very next morning, I was out early embarking on a road trip, sometimes just a day trip and other times down to Harrisburg, PA or some other overnight excursion. November 26, 1982 was one of those day trips. I don’t recall the actual route, but I made it up to Brattleboro, VT, possibly by late morning. Driving north on Route 5 coming into Brattleboro, I came upon Ed’s Diner. It was a small, barrel roofed Worcester Lunch Car from the 1920’s.


Ed’s Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Ed’s Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Ed’s Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

After shooting the photos of Ed’s, I continued driving through Brattleboro, missing 3 other diners but somehow coming across the old Royal Diner sitting well off the road. It was being used as part of something called the Royal Yard Restaurant. I cannot recall how I even knew it was there, either someone told me about it (possibly Dave Hebb) or there was a sign pointing me to its location. This diners original location had been closer to downtown and was moved out a few years before. As I remember hearing, the diner was sitting on blocks near the intersection of Route 5 and Route 9 (where Rte. 9 goes east into New Hampshire and may have sustained some vandalism before the “Royal Yard” people took it over and relocated it to their property.


Royal Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Royal Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Royal Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Royal Diner, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Royal Diner, Worcester Lunch car No. 736 (1939 vintage) was altered after being installed here. It originally had the 2 side entrances and only windows across the front facade. For some reason the owner decided to remove 2 windows and install the “double” front door. Also, as the interior view shows, he made a sort of skylight or sunroof to allow light to come in to the interior. It remained here for a few years but was among the missing by August of 1988. It turned up shortly thereafter on Route 9 in West Brattleboro and has been operated as the Chelsea Royal Diner since.

Just before leaving Brattleboro, I was near the intersection of Route 9 and Route 5 and glanced over at a Tire Warehouse Store. My eye was drawn to the window and door configuration of the office for the establishment and recognized another Worcester Diner covered by a mansard roof and sporting newer windows. I took 2 photos and actually went inside. I asked whoever was working there about the diner and was told it had originally been in Keene, NH. I have since figured out it had to be the Buster Brown Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 770.


Tire Warehouse, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera


Tire Warehouse, Brattleboro, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera

As you can see by the photos, it was a cloudy, almost dreary day 29 years ago. After photographing the Tire Warehouse, I decided to head over to Bennington and have lunch at the Blue Benn Diner. About halfway across Route 9, I encountered a very bad snowstorm. The driving got treacherous and I was a little worried after witnessing a couple of accidents. But I persevered and made it over to the Blue Benn.


Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera


Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera


Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera


Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT – November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera

I believe the last couple of shots of the Blue Benn were shot with a different roll of film as I recall running out and going into the downtown area and finding a camera shop to buy more film. It was time to start heading home and I felt taking Route 9 back was not an option so I headed south on Route 7 into Massachusetts. I knew that there was supposed to be a diner in Adams, Mass. and figured while I was out there I would check it out. I rolled into town and it was still snowing when I saw the Pier 53 Restaurant, formerly the Miss Adams Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 821. It was altered by stonework covering the exterior but was pretty much intact.


Pier 53 Restaurant, Adams, MA- November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera


Pier 53 Restaurant, Adams, MA- November 26, 1982 photo
by Larry Cultrera

I figured that by heading south instead of east, I might be able to get around driving through mountainous roads in this snowy weather. I decided not to try going over Route 2 east of North Adams as I thought my 1979 Chevy van (without snow tires) was not up to going over that type of hilly terrain. I continued on Route 8 through Adams and was able to find a route that had one major incline. I managed to make it over that obstacle (barely, as 2 cars behind me wiped out on the hill in the snow). A few miles later, the snow turned to rain and I found my way into Greenfield. I stopped for gas and the service station attendant (remember those guys?) asked me where all the snow on my van came from ? I told him, just down the road buddy! Ah, the good old days!

April Vacation, 2011 – Part 1

This is the first time in about 3 years that I was able to take a week’s vacation in the early spring. I generally like to take a week in April and another week at the beginning of August when I can. So last Saturday I took a roadtrip out to Albany, NY by way of Route 2. This road has been a favorite of mine since I was young. You see my Dad used to love to take the family on “short rides”. Some were longer than others, but one in particular stands out. He got the family (with the exception of my older brother) into the car one day and said we were going on a short ride and we ended up in the Berkshire Hills on the Mohawk Trail (Rte. 2). To those unfamiliar with this area, we lived near Boston in eastern Massachusetts and the Mohawk Trail is in the extreme northwest corner of the state! Now that’s my kind of a short ride!

So continuing with this years April vacation, I was heading out to Albany to attend a Rock n’ Roll Expo. This Expo was basically your everyday vinyl record and rock n’ roll memorabilia collectors show. There were also performers at the show including Starz, a 1980’s band and also a John Lennon tribute band called “Imagining Lennon”. But the draw for me was that Tommy James (of Tommy James and the Shondells fame) was going to be there signing copies of his autobiography “Me, the Mob and the Music”, as well as a “meet and greet” with fans.

Denise decided not to accompany me on this trip, so I was on my own. Even though I missed her company, this was probably just as well as I needed to revisit some diners in the central and western areas of Massachusetts (on my way out and also coming back) for info and new photos for my “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” book and she would not have enjoyed all the stops at the diners. This trip out to Albany would provide a good opportunity to get some of that out of the way! So on the way out I stopped at the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner for breakfast. Owner, Jamie Floyd knew I was coming because I gave her a heads-up a day or so before on Facebook.

I got some great info and photos as well as a delicious breakfast while visiting Jamie. This is a diner I highly recommend if you are in the area!


Jamie Floyd, owner of the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner, Mass.
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of the Blue Moon Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Exterior of the Blue Moon Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

After leaving the Blue Moon, I continued heading west and got to Adams, Mass. about 9:00 am. I was expected at the Miss Adams Diner by owner Philomene Belair. We had been in contact for quite some time in the recent weeks. She had already sent me all the info I pretty much needed for the book and I wanted some new photos. Philomene and her husband Ric reopened the diner a little over a year ago on February 15, 2010. I am happy to report that it looks like this beleaguered diner is in good hands, and that hopefully down the line that they will have the money to bring the interior back to a semblance of what it used to be.


Interior of the Miss Adams Diner. Hopefully the Belairs will be able to restore the ceiling, getting rid of those LP vinyl records that were glued to the original formica panels by a previous owner!
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


The crew at the Miss Adams Diner, Left-Right  Ric & Philomene Belair, Richard “Pip” Belair (Ric’s Dad) and Kelly Cross. 
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Miss Adams Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

I spent a little over an hour visiting with Philomene and then continued on to Albany. I was driving into Troy, NY and called Glenn Wells to let him know I was in the area. When I told him where I was, he said you are about to go right past the “Famous Lunch”! Sure enough, he was right. I said I would call him after I visited Bill Brown over at the Miss Albany Diner and got off the phone. I went around the block and found a parking lot right next to the Famous Lunch and went in to try out a couple of their neat little hot dogs with “Zippy Sauce”, I had heard so much about.


Famous Lunch, 111 Congress St., Troy, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


The small hot dogs at Famous Lunch, photo from Famous Lunch website

Those 2 hot dogs I had were really scrumptious! If you are ever in Troy, you have to check this place out! The interior walls and ceiling are covered in green porcelain enameled steel panels! Their website is…. http://www.famouslunch.net/Welcome.html

I left Troy and drove a few miles down river to the Miss Albany Diner and visited briefly with Bill Brown. The place was hopping for an early Saturday afternoon!


Miss Albany Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

I met up with Glenn Wells at the Halfmoon Diner which is about a mile from where he lives. It is a very nice 1989 vintage DeRaffele-built diner that is currently undergoing a slight remodelling (by DeRaffele). The owner, Peter was very welcoming to me when Glenn introduced us. He had very warm feelings of dealing with Phil DeRaffele over the years and could not say enough good things about him and his company!


Halfmoon Diner, Clifton Park, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Halfmoon Diner, Clifton Park, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

We dropped my car off at Glenns house where I met his lovely wife Susan finally. We talked briefly and then Glenn and I left to shanghai Mike Engle from whatever he might have been doing! The first place Glenn took me was the Snow Man Ice Cream stand at 531 5th Avenue in Troy. I had seen photos of this place and wanted to get some for myself…..


Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

After shooting the Snow Man photos, Glenn drove over to the Country View Diner in Brunswick, NY. This is a 1980’s Swingle Diner that was updated more recently by DeRaffele.


Country View Diner of Brunswick, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Country View Diner of Brunswick, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

We also went by Dewey’s Diner and Inga’s Diner which happen to live right next door to each other on Fuller Road in Albany. Dewey’s is a 1940 vintage Kullman Diner that has seen better days (certainly on the outside) and Inga’s is an on-site built diner.


Dewey’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera


Dewey’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera


Inga’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera


Inga’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera

We visited 3 more diners last Saturday and I will continue this in the next post, stay tuned…..