Classic Diners of Massachusetts Presentation/Lecture – Sunday April 19th 2:00PM, Lowell, Mass.

Parker Lecture Series blurb
I will be doing another slide lecture/presentation this coming Sunday for the Parker Lecture Series in Lowell, Massachusetts. It will be held at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center 246 Market Street in Lowell, Massachusetts. The lecture starts at 2:00 PM
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Here is a link to their website that explains about this long running lecture series…
http://www.parkerlectures.com/?page_id=150

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Notes from the Hotline, 9-14-2013

A Brand-new book on New Hampshire Diners in the works

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Littleton Diner – Littleton, NH, July 30, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have been fairly inactive for over a month, as far as posting anything new here. No excuses, just a little end of the summer laziness on my part. But not to worry….. I have been getting out on the road recently, mostly starting at the end of July right thru to Labor day Weekend, with a few trips to the Granite State (New Hampshire for those non-local readers).  The reason for this is that I was contacted by Katie Orlando, a Commissioning Editor for my publisher, The History Press. She inquired if I was interested in writing another book for them, this time on Diners of New Hampshire. I told her that I would need to think about it as well as talk it over with my wife Denise.

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Plain Jane’s Diner – Rumney, NH, July 30, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

After some consideration, I got back to Katie and told her I thought that this book was a possibility and she sent the “Authors Proposal” for me to fill out. I took my time filling it out as I needed to think about how this book would work, as opposed to my first one, Classic Diners of Massachusetts. I realized fairly quickly that the new book could not be set-up like the first. You see, Massachusetts has clearly defined regions with many diners. This approach would not be workable with New Hampshire’s geography and diner count.

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Route 104 Diner – New Hampton, NH, August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

After coming to this conclusion, I started putting the proposal together which included a rough outline for the book. It was easier this time around because I did not have to include any writing samples. I just told them to refer to the first book!  I finally sent this proposal to Katie, within the last couple of weeks.  As of this Wednesday The History Press gave the project a green light.

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Tilt’n Diner – Tilton, NH, August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

In the meantime, in anticipation of the project I started taking some updated photos of New Hampshire diners. Some of my photos of them go back 30 years. I figured that I would get a jump while the good weather was here and try to hit some of the far-flung diners and meet the current owners, gathering new photos and info. My deadline is fairly long this time around (on purpose), that is part of the reason I took my time in getting the proposal in. So any photos I do not get in the next couple of months, I can surely make up for in the spring and early summer of 2014. So, here we go again!

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Mt. Pisgah Diner – Winchester, NH, August 31, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

By the way, on a side note, the new book will not be titled “Classic Diners of New Hampshire” as I had hoped. I did want to continue the theme but Katie informed me that a guy named Bruce D. Heald, an historian and author of many books about New Hampshire is slated to bring a book with that title out in the spring (for Fonthill Media). I respect Mr. Heald’s credentials and would be interested to see what he comes up with but, he is not a known diner aficionado and to my knowledge, has not contacted anybody who could be described as an expert in this field of interest as of yet.

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Hillsborough Diner – Hillsborough, NH, August 31, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have not decided on a title yet but will be working on this in the near future.

The History Press to release 2 new “Diner” books this Fall

Speaking of “Diner” books, I am happy to report that my publisher is about to release 2 new titles this fall…. the second and third after my Massachusetts book. Toward the end of September, Michael Gabriele’s The History of Diners in New Jersey will be available. I believe I will be mentioned in this book as well as some photos of mine might actually show up in the book. I am anxious to see what he has put together.

History-of-Diners-in-NJ-cover

Following the NJ book, sometime in October, Garrison Leykam’s “Classic Diners of Connecticut” book will be out. I was surprised to see my name (along with Christopher Dobbs) on the cover. We both contributed Forewords to this book.

Classic-Diners-of-CT-cover

Iron Town Diner opens within walking distance of my house

I have been waiting all summer for the opening of a new diner located right around the corner from where I live. Toward the end of May, a sign went up on a vacant storefront in the Village Park Shopping Center that is situated on Main Street at the corner of the Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus, Mass. This storefront had been occupied for years by J.Pace’s, an Italian Deli/specialty store. Pace’s moved down the street about a quarter mile to a new building that they built, leaving the storefront vacant for almost 2 years. The landlord has subdivided the location and Iron Town diner is in not quite half of Pace’s spot.

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Iron Town Diner sign – Saugus, Mass., May 19, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

The owner of the Iron Town Diner is George Varelas and I actually stopped by back in August and spoke with Athena, George’s mother. She was gracious and gave me a little tour of the as yet unfinished diner. I was impressed with what they had done to essentially a blank canvas. The interior was well laid out with a small “L” shaped counter on the left side along with tables and chairs as well as booths. She mentioned the diner would hold upwards of 90 patrons, a pretty decent size! Athena said they were looking at an early September opening.

I met George last Sunday morning and he told me they were opening the next day (Sept. 9th). I told him we would stop by on bright and early on Saturday ! True to my word, Denise and I stopped in this morning and before we actually step a foot within the diner, I saw a familiar face….. Saadia Zraizaa was a waitress there! We became friendly with Saadia last year when she and her husband had been running the Medford Square Diner in my hometown of Medford. We had found out that Saadia had worked for 10 years at the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. I had heard thru the grapevine that she had sold the business in Medford a few months ago and was not surprised to see her here, as she lives in nearby Revere. She is very pleasant and during our conversation this morning, I realized that I had actually met her years ago when she worked for Judy’s Diner in Malden for 7 years in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.

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Iron Town Diner –  Saugus, Mass., September 14, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Anyway we had a very good breakfast at Iron Town Diner (named for the Historic Saugus Iron Works, a National Historic Site). The portions are pretty good sized and prices reasonable and the service is pleasant. I understand they have been doing a pretty decent business since they opened their doors! I know one thing, I could easily become a regular customer here for sure!

Kim and Mike’s Excellent Diner Adventure!!!!

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Mike & Kim Pinto on the “Diner Trail”. June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I was checking out Facebook this past weekend and found a post from the Point Diner (AKA the Somers Point Diner)  of Somers Point, NJ. They basically posted a link to a new blog I had never heard of. It was called “Diner Diaries”. Written by Kim Pinto, the blog is primarily an extension of a journal that Kim is keeping for an interesting road trip she and her husband Mike have embarked on, the link for the blog is  http://pintodiner.com. Both Kim and Mike are eduacators, Mike as a school principal and Kim teaches a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class. I read a couple of her posts on the blog and decided to get in touch with her, primarily to let her know that she is not alone in her journey and that those of us who preceded her on the “Diner Trail” can understand her quest.

Within a short period of time, I got a reply to my email and it was a very nice message to say the least…..
Hi Larry! What a completely humble moment to be contacted by you, thank you.  My second and third graders have poured over your book (Classic Diners of Massachusetts) as we planned this trip and I can’t wait to share that you sent me a note.  Our goal is to trek to Massachusetts in four days, after a stint in NYC. Your book is in my bag. This has been an incredible journey and I want to thank you for being a part of it.  I am sincerely amazed that you have photographed so many diners and have provided the world with your findings.  You sir are a difference maker.  How fun that your wife is a retired teacher.  Please tell her hello from me! Thank you again Larry for extending such kind words.  I am so very bummed I didn’t get to sit and break bread in the American Dream diner…it is so interesting that you photographed that diner from the start. Have a wonderful day!  Kim

I was certainly surprised and delighted that she has my book for a reference. As she mentioned, they were on their way to New York City and that they would be heading to Massachusetts toward mid-week. I suggested we try to get together, which she thought was a great idea. I then decided to do this post and asked her for some info about the blog/trip and this is what Kim said….

I am from West Lafayette, Indiana.  This is a $10,000 teacher creativity grant.  It is meant to rejuvenate you.  I chose to visit diners because my room is themed as a diner.  Our entire school has themed classrooms.  I was asked to select a theme that is comfortable.  My Grandmother taught me very early by example.  She was a lady with little means so eating out meant going to one of two little diners in my town.  The conversations we had were like no other while sharing a comfortable lunch together. I try to duplicate this experience in my classroom.  I thought what would be better than to go to where it all began, the east coast. In May I found out I have breast cancer, so this trip now has another meaning for me.  My son, Alex, is also along to shoot a documentary of the trip as well.  He just graduated from Columbia in Chicago in film/directing.  He will be moving to LA in August, so having him along is special. The grant pays for the whole trip, from food-self publishing a book at the end.  The idea is this is a trip of a lifetime and it is beyond that at this point…I am having the time of my life! Thank you again for taking an interest in an elementary teacher from Indiana.  My 2nd and 3rd graders will be very excited.  Also thank you for writing about me on the Diner Hotline…another kind moment. In the end I simply hope to soak this all in and put forth a book about my travels and the wonderful diners/friends I have met along the way. My two journeys will not end at the close of this trip, I think they are really just beginning.
Well, we managed to get together late on Thursday afternoon. Because there are not too many diners in this area open for dinner and the fact that they were coming up from Worcester, Mass., I instructed them to take I-290 east and I-495 north to Salisbury. Then to take I-95 south to Rte. 133 and the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. This allowed them to avoid any rush-hour traffic in the Boston area by completely bypassing the city. They got there before Denise and I did so they made their presence known to Ethel DePasquale, a member of the Galanis family who own and operate the diner. We joined them within a short time and Ethel was understanding about us wanting to talk for a bit before taking our food order. When we finally decided to order, both Kim and Mike got a dinner entree while Denise was not particularly hungry (she settled for the glass of water she was drinking), I opted for a piece of the Agawam’s famous Coconut Cream pie. I very rarely get to the Agawam for anything other than breakfast and it has been years since I had their pie. It was even better than I remembered! Oh, Man!!!!! Mike, on my recommendation decided on the Native Fried Clam Roll (which they do not even have out in Indiana). This in fact was something he was totally unfamiliar with, along with a Scallop Roll or a Fried Shrimp Roll. They do not even have “Whole Clams” out there, just frozen clam strips! Kim decided on a Fried Fish sandwich. Mike has been documenting his food this trip and if anyone is curious you can see some of these on his blog….. http://coleprincipal.tumblr.com.

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Yours truly and Kim Pinto outside the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
Me, Kim & Mike outside the Agawam Diner
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
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Mike, Kim & Denise at the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I feel that Denise and I made new, life-long friends in Kim and Mike. I wish them happy travels until they get back home. I also wish Kim well with her fight against breast cancer!

Classic Diners of Massachusetts Slide Presentation, May 9, 2012

I have a slide presentation based on my book Classic Diners of Massachusetts this coming Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at the Saugus Historical Society. The Historical Society is located at 30 Main Street in Saugus, Mass. (about a block and a half from the center of town). It is diagonally across from Summer Street. According to the info I have, gathering times are 6:45 pm with the meeting beginning at 7:00 pm. My slide presentation should start at approximately 7:30 pm.

There will be a  representative from The Paper Store (a local chain that feature Card, Gifts & Books) on hand to sell copies of my book which I of course will sign after the presentation.

Notes from the Hotline, 01-14-2012

Classic Diners of Massachusetts Slide Presentation
January 23rd in Medford, Mass.

I will be doing a slide presentation based on my Classic Diners of Massachusetts book at the Medford Public Library on January 23, 2012. The presentation will be similar to the one I did for the Somerville Public Library with some modifications. These will include some images of diners from Medford’s past.

Here is the blurb the Library posted on their website….

Classic Diners of Massachusetts A Lecture by Larry Cultrera

Monday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the birthplace of “night lunch wagon” manufacturing industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These horse-drawn food carts eventually evolved into classic American diners. For many years, diner builders like the Worcester Lunch Car Company and J.B. Judkins Company operated in the Bay State, although few new diners opened for business after 1960. This left the state with a high concentration of some of the best-preserved diners built during the early to mid-twentieth century, including the Capitol Diner in Lynn, the Route 66 Diner in Springfield and Buddy’s Diner in Somerville.

Medford native Larry Cultrera is a diner historian and the author of the Diner Hotline blog. His new book Classic Diners of Massachusetts has just been released by the History Press.The Library is located at 111 High Street (Route 60) on-street parking as well as a small parking lot behind the building is available.

 

Rosebud Diner of Somerville, Mass. changing owners soon


Rosebud Diner postcard designed by Larry Cultrera

I got a phone call on January 1st from old friend Arthur Krim, a founding member of the Society for Commercial Archeology. It seems he was contacted by Kristi Chase of the Somerville Historical Comission who was concerned about the future of the Rosebud Diner. Arthur asked me if I had any knowledge of the possible sale of the diner, I told him that I had not heard anything. I last saw Bill Nichols (whose family owns the diner) back in November at my “Author Event” held at the Somerville Public Library and nothing was mentioned then. Arthur informed me that Kristi had heard from someone who stated he was in the process of purchasing the Rosebud and wanted to change or alter the neon sign on the roof. I told Arthur that I would look into the situation.

I called Bill Nichols shortly after talking with Arthur and asked him what was happening. He said everything was fine and that he knew nothing about any changes concerning the diner. So I thought, well maybe this was just a rumor. The next day I called Kristi Chase and she in turn reitierated what she told Arthur and the news sounded credible. Because the diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Historical Commission needs to be informed on possible changes to listed properties. Well I called Bill back and told him what was said. Needless to say he was surprised and a little upset, it seems his dad  was selling the diner and had not yet informed him.

I again contacted Bill this past week after he had spoken with his dad who told him that someone had approached him with an offer to by the building/business. Bill says he is not sure of the actual timeline but estimates the change in ownership will happen possibly within the next month or month and  half. I am sad for this change and hope that nothing drastic happens to this long-time landmark in my life.

 

Glenn Wells’s RoadsideFans website migrates to WordPress

Good friend, colleague and occasional road trip buddy Glenn Wells received a nice Christmas present from his stepson Ray Milstrey, an updated website/blog. Ray also created the old RoadsideFans website, but now that the site has migrated to WordPress, it will become interactive. Here is what Glenn says about the move……

The new RoadsideFans.com is a WordPress blog, and if that seems familiar, it’s because several other roadside-related web sites already use WordPress – Diner Hotline, Retro Roadmap, Diner Hunter, and Lincoln Highway News among them. As with the others, visitors to RoadsideFans will now have a chance to leave comments – simply click the arrow at the top right and scroll down to the bottom of the posting. There will probably be more new features yet to come as I become more familiar with WordPress.

You will find several features from the old web site on the new RoadsideFans.com. By clicking FEATURES on the bar above, you can access the Howard Johnson’s, barbecue chicken, and Taconic Parkway features from the old web site. However, the Online Diner Tours and some other photo features from the old site have been retired. Most of these were a decade or more old, and many of the places no longer exist or have changed names. I am considering uploading the pictures to a Flickr account to maintain the historical record. 

I want to congratulate Glenn on the updated website and wish him good luck. I know I have enjoyed using wordpress for Diner Hotline! You can find a link to RoadsideFans in my blogroll as well as here….
http://www.roadsidefans.com/

Notes from the Hotline, December 4, 2011

Fourth Author Event in Webster

We had another nice Author Event yesterday, this time at Booklovers’ Gourmet located at 55 East Main Street (Route 12) in Webster, Mass. It is a small store set in the first floor of an old house packed with new and used books, as well as a small selection of gifts and artwork for sale. They also have a decent selection of coffee’s, tea’s and chai’s along with some fresh pastry from a bakery in nearby Putnam, CT. Owner Debra Horan was very nice and we met some customers who purchased my book. For those who could not make it, the remainder of her stock (of Classic Diners of Mass.) have been signed for anyone who wants to purchase it.


Left to right, Denise Cultrera, Larry Cultrera and owner Debra Horan
at Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster. Photo by Lorraine Ostrokolowicz

Original Dunkin Donut store gets a retro revamp

The original Dunkin Donut store located at 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Mass. has just received a quick 11-day renovation that has the place looking like a modern version of its 1950’s look. The store located near the corner of Bracket Street and the Southern Artery (Route 3A), was first opened in 1948 by Bill Rosenberg, (the founder of Dunkin Donuts) under the name “Open Kettle” and was an adjunct to his other business, Industrial Luncheon Service.

By 1950 Rosenberg decided  the name of the store needed to reflect the actual product that he was selling, basically coffee and donuts.  That is when the name changed to Dunkin Donuts.


Publicity photo from Dunkin Donuts featuring the original Quincy location.
A fair number of the Dunkin Donuts locations in the Boston area have an enlargement of this hanging somewhere prominently in the stores.

The signage was notable with the letters “in” actually dipping down lower than the other letters symbolizing the “Dunkin” part of the name. The building has gone thru many “looks” over the last 60 years, reflecting the chains appearance in any given time. The new renovation represents a retro look back in a modern sort of way! It even has a small “L” shaped counter with fixed stools evoking the feeling and ambiance that the early stands had.

I first heard about this from the Boston Globe, November 30, 2011 in an article written by Christina Reinwald for the business section of that day’s newspaper. I would put a link to the article but you now have to be a subscriber to read it. That’s technology for you! Anyway, after reading the article, I decided a quick trip was in order to shoot a few photos and today (Sunday) seemed to be the ideal time.

So, on the way over Denise and I went and had breakfast at the Wheelhouse Diner (also in Quincy) and boy, that place was hopping when we got there. Grill-man extraordinaire, Doug Showstead was his usual pleasant and efficient self. He always makes us feel welcome and told me at least 10 people have come into the diner in the last month or so and mentioned about the appearance of the Wheelhouse in my Classic Diners of Mass. book.

After breakfast we drove over to Dunkin Donuts so I could take my photos. As you can see, the new signage is a smaller version of the original, only with backlit plastic covered letters instead of neon.


Original Dunkin Donut store at 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Mass. December 4, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Original Dunkin Donut store at 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Mass. December 4, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Original Dunkin Donut store at 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Mass. December 4, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera
I was standing in the middle of the street to get this shot, thank goodness it was a Sunday morning!


A close-up of the little plaque they have to the right of the entrance announcing that this is the first Dunkin Donut store, circa 1950.

This little project was a combined effort between the franchisee and the Corporate Headquarters of Dunkin Donuts to make the store look the way it does. According to the report, this will be the only Dunkin Donut outlet to reflect this style! Overall, I like the look and always enjoy when a company makes a nod to their past. I applaud all involved.

Notes from the Hotline, November 30, 2011

Updates on Author Events for Classic Diners of Massachusetts


Left to right, Rick Cultrera, Phil Paleologos, Larry Cultrera & Mimi Powell
at Baker Books in North Dartmouth. Photo by Denise Cultrera

The Author Event held this past Saturday at Baker Books went really well. Before we got to the Event, we visited with our good friend Phil Paleologos of the Shawmut Diner. Denise and I split a famous Shawmut Diner “Cheese Roll” which I had been anxious to try since I mentioned it among the menu items in the book. It was everything I thought it would be, I am addicted to it! Actually it tasted like a grilled cheese sandwich which could never be bad! Phil had a couple of copies of the book on hand and he announced to the whole diner (which was packed with customers) that a “famous author” was there, and held up the books! Those 2 copies were immediately bought up and I autographed them on the spot.

Well after having our mid-morning snack, we drove over to the nearby Baker Books store on U.S. Route 6 in North Dartmouth where I gave an impromptu talk and signed some books. We saw old friend Bethany Smith and met some new ones as well. Special thanks to Mimi Powell, the store manager who was very gracious. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking this great independent book store out!

Next Author Event to be held at Booklovers’ Gourmet

The next Event will be this coming Saturday, December 2, 2011 at 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Located at Booklovers’ Gourmet, 55 East Main Street (Route 12) in Webster, Mass. Here is a link to the stores event page… http://www.er3.com/book/events.html

Hopefully some of my Central Massachusetts readers can make it over to Webster!

List of places selling Classic Diners of Massachusetts

I have a preliminary list of places selling the book….

Baker Books – North Dartmouth, MA

Blanchard’s 101 Diner – Worcester, MA

Boulevard Diner – Worcester, MA

Charlie’s Diner – Spencer, MA

Deluxe Town Diner – Watertown, MA

Deluxe Station Diner – Newton Center,  MA

Don’s Diner – Plainville, MA

Front Street Book Shop – Scituate Harbor, MA

Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts Museum – Providence, RI

Lynn Museum – Lynn, MA

Miss Adams Diner – Adams, MA

Owl Diner – Lowell, MA

Porter Square Books – Cambridge, MA

River’s Edge Card and Gift – Ipswich, MA

Salem Diner – Salem, MA

Shawmut Diner – New Bedford, MA

Tatnuck Bookseller – Westborough, MA

Tex Barry’s Coney Island Diner – Attleboro, MA

Toad Hall Bookstore – Rockport, MA

Zak’s – Manchester By The Sea,  MA

Of course the book is available through all Barnes & Noble stores as well as barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com

New blog by my friend Michael G. Stewart

I am happy to announce there is a new blog called Neon Dreamscapes, A Photographic Diary of Michael G. Stewart. Subtitled “Opening The Door To Visual Experience”. It features a varied and interesting subject matter from Michael’s own musings to some of the projects he is currently working on. I higly recommend it!  Here is the link, I will also put it into my blog roll ! http://neondreamscapes.wordpress.com/