New Roadside related books in my library…

I have recently added 3 new (to me) books to my ever increasing personal “Roadside related” library that I highly recommend to anyone who has an interest, whether in passing or as an avid aficionado!

The first title I want to recommend is…

Remembering Roadside America

I came across this one by happenstance two or three months ago. I happened to “Google” my name and clicked on “books” and a reference came up to this new book with the subtitle “Preserving the Recent Past as Landscape and Place”  published by the University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN) and written by coauthors John A. Jakle, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign and Keith A. Sculle, the former head of research and education at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. They have coauthored other roadside related titles already in my personal library such as; Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile AgeThe Motel in America and The Gas Station in America. Being familiar with these past titles and the scholarly approach the authors used, I was spurred on to purchase this book and see for myself how I ended up being mentioned within the context of this book, (I was definitely curious, to say the least)!

Remembering-Roadside-America-cover
Cover of John A. Jakle and Keith Sculle’s book, Remembering
Roadside America

The blurb on the back cover on the book is a good synopsis describing the content…

The use of cars and trucks over the past century has remade American geography-pushing big cities ever outward toward suburbanization, spurring the growth of some small towns while hastening the decline of others, and spawning a new kind of commercial landscape marked by gas stations, drive-in restaurants, motels, tourist attractions, and other retail entities that express our national love affair with the open road. By its very nature, this landscape is ever changing, indeed ephemeral. What is new quickly becomes old and is soon forgotten.

 In this book, a summation in many ways of the authors’ decades of combined research, John JakIe and Keith Sculle ponder how “Roadside America” might be remembered, especially since so little physical evidence of its earliest years survives. In lively prose supplemented by copious illustrations, they survey the ways in which automobility has transformed life in the United States. Asking how we might best commemorate this part of our past-which has been so vital economically and politically, so significant to Americans’ cultural aspirations, yet so often ignored by scholars who dismiss it as kitsch-they propose the development of an outdoor museum that would treat seriously the themes of our roadside history.

 Museums have been created for frontier pioneering, the rise of commercial agriculture, and the coming of water- and steam-powered industrialization and transportation, especially the railroad. Is now not the time, the authors ask, for a museum forcefully exploring the automobile’s emergence and the changes it has brought to place and landscape?

OK, so this is in keeping with their particular style of writing and gives you a good idea about what the book is like. Upon receiving my copy of the book I found the mention pertaining to me in the “Preserving Roads and Roadsides” chapter! It turns out that I was not mentioned here by name but I was referred to in the text on Page 122…  “one aficionado who wrote and illustrated a column on diners for the Society for Commercial Archeology’s publications for 19 years recalled how he first became interested in diners when he was six years old and how he had continued this interest throughout his life” (Index note 70). That was a mind blower for sure, so I turned to the Index notes on Page 258 for that chapter and here is where I was mentioned by name along with “Diner Hotline” (the original print version that preceded this blog)…
70. Larry Cultrera, “Diner Hotline”, SCA Journal 25 (Fall 2007): 36; and Larry Cultrera, “Diner Hotline”, SCA Journal 21 (Fall 2003): 24-25.

I spoke with Keith Sculle after reading the book and conveyed my gratitude for he and John Jakle mentioning myself and Diner Hotline in their book! I told him that I felt extremely honored by the gesture! He expressed his personal disappointment in my discontinuing the Diner Hotline column in the SCA Journal back in 2007 and often wondered as to why I did that. I told him that I thought I felt that I had brought the column to a point where I was not enjoying the writing and the deadlines any longer and needed a change. I also said that this event gave birth to this Weblog shortly thereafter and it became the Diner Hotline it was finally meant to be (in my mind).

Coauthors Jakle & Sculle also went on to mention my friend Brian Butko and his efforts with the Lincoln Highway in the same way on Page 125 (same chapter)… “The Lincoln Motor Court, astride the Lincoln Highway at Tulls Hill, PA, enables one to peer over a long time into the time travelers’ transcendent quest. Built in 1944, the Lincoln Motor Court was off the beaten path by the 1970s. Jakle & Sculle mention that the current owners Bob & Debbie Altizer had purchased the motel in 1983. By 1993, nostalgic yearnings and boosterism amid the nationwide culture of leisure gave birth to a new Lincoln Highway Association. This is where the authors refer to Brian Butko – “A historian and photographer engrossed in his work on a travel guide of the (Lincoln) highway in Pennsylvania and an eager proponent for combining heritage tourism and road and roadside preservation counseled the owners of the Lincoln Motor Court on the possibility of reviving their business by appealing to travelers seeking to re-enact a trip on the Lincoln Highway. Advertising its historical qualities made the retro business profitable, and other entrepreneurs near the Altizers also successfully adopted the strategy” (Index note 76). Turning to the Index notes on Page 258 … 76. Ibid., 8-9; Brian A. Butko, “Historic Highway Preservation: Not a Dead End Street!” CRM16 (1993): 36; and Brian A. Butko, Pennsylvania Travelers’ Guide: The Lincoln Highway (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1996), 188-90.

I will say that Jakle and Sculle’s books are not your typical “coffee table” variety of roadside history tomes and are fairly heavy reading owing to both of the author’s educational/historic preservation backgrounds. But they certainly have a wealth of information within their books and that those readers willing to read thru them will be rewarded with a new perspective in how they look at preserving or at the very least documenting the American Roadside which in the long run will benefit future generations!

The second book I acquired was a book with a much more local focus…

New England Notebook: One Reporter, Six States, Uncommon Stories

This book was published in 2013 by Globe Pequot Press and written by Ted Reinstein. For those who might not be familiar with Mr. Reinstein, he is best known around New England as a longtime correspondent for “Chronicle,” the equally longtime and celebrated nightly newsmagazine which airs on Boston’s ABC affiliate, WCVB-TV. I have been watching Chronicle from its inception in the early 1980s and have always enjoyed the show. In fact, I was actually on a Chronicle show back in the July 25, 1991 along with Richard Gutman and Randy Garbin among others in a show called “Devoted to Diners.  More recently I was featured in a segment of New Hampshire Chronicle (WMUR-TV’s version of the show) highlighting my latest book “New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries”. Anyway, to get back to Ted Reinstein, he signed on to Chronicle as a correspondent in the late 90s and he quickly became one of my favorite people to watch as his segments seem to be among the most enjoyable to me. I was certainly aware that his book had been published and had actually thumbed thru it once or twice at the local Barnes & Noble but did not purchase it until he came to do a slide lecture/author event at the Saugus Public Library March 30, 2015!

New-England-Notebook-cover
Cover of Ted Reinstein’s book New England Notebook

I met Ted at his author event and immediately found him to be as entertaining in person as he comes across on television! He engages his audience thru the TV show or in the book as well as at one of his author appearances, and when he talks about a person, place or thing, you know he has done his homework. Not only because it is his job, but because he has a genuine interest and therefor keeps his audience interested in the subject at hand! I was informed about his upcoming event at the Saugus Public Library by a friend Bob Teal back in mid-March. Ironically, Ironically Ted’s Saugus event followed another author event/lecture he did for the Parker Lecture Series up in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 19th as well – exactly one month before I did one ending the season for that series!

New England Notebook features some of Ted’s favorite stories that he has covered over the years… the people and places that stood out in his and respectively, the viewers minds! Just from watching him on the show I knew he was a kindred spirit and has a love of diners. He has a better than average grasp of New England diner history which gives his reporting on the subject a huge amount of credibility! In the final chapter of this book (Chapter 10 – The Foods) there is a section called “Diners: A New England Specialty” and features the late lamented Rosebud Diner of Somerville with a great night-time photo by my friend Elizabeth Thomsen (OK, I know the Rosebud building is still there but the classic interior is completely gone and the menu offered is not even close to a diner).  Other diners included are Becky’s Diner of Portland, ME, the Boulevard Diner and Miss Worcester Diner of Worcester, Mass., the Deluxe Town Diner of Watertown, Mass., and Agawam Diner of Rowley, Mass., as well as the Main Street Station Diner of Plymouth, NH and the Red Arrow Diner of Manchester, NH. I hope to someday join Ted for a decent Diner “Breakfast” in the near future, maybe even at Tim’s Diner in Leominster, I know Ted has not been there yet! This book is filled with other entertaining stories flavored with Ted Reinstein’s wit & wisdom and well worth the read!

So if you are ever in the Boston area, check out Chronicle on WCVB-TV (Channel 5), it is on Monday thru Friday at 7:30pm. Even if Ted is not on, it is an award winning show that always seems to offer something for the discerning viewer!

The third book I purchased and read was recommended to me by Debra Jane Seltzer…

Road Trip: Roadside America From Custard’s Last Stand
to the Wigwam Restaurant

Published by Universal Publishing – this book is written & illustrated by Richard Longstreth, an architectural historian and professor at George Washington University. Longstreth directs the graduate program in historic preservation at the university and is the author of numerous books and articles including “The American Department Store Transformed 1920-1960″ and Looking Beyond the Icons: Midcentury Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism”. In fact Mr. Longstreth is quoted quite a bit by John Jakle & Kieth Sculle in pretty much all their books on the American Roadside, so I was certainly familiar with his name over the years but this is the first book of his that I have actually bought! This book is chock-full of color photos that he shot from the late 1960s into the 1980s in his travels!

Roadtrip-America_Lonngstreth-cover
Cover of Richard Longstreth’s book, Road Trip, from Custard’s
Last Stand to the Wigwam Restaurant

A lot of these places in Longstreth’s photos are either long gone or partially to extremely altered at the time of this books publishing. But we are certainly the lucky recipients of his foresightedness in his documenting these roadside treasures that are somewhat reminiscent of John Margolies best work. The difference is that Margolies has been known to remove litter and debris from his subject matter prior to shooting the photos and Longstreth, like most of us, does not! The one thing he does like Margolies is wait for the right “light” to take the shots of his subject (in most cases, but not all), something I always wished I had the luxury of doing back in the 1980s!

The places he photographed are from pretty much all over the country! From motels, to gas stations, to diners – Mr. Longstreth covers it all! There are period supermarkets, Drive-In Movie Theaters and other roadside attractions. The one drawback to the book is the choice of small type/font that was used for the text as well as captions (kind of small in my opinion) but in fact, the photos are what truly shine in this book and I can certainly overlook that little drawback! This is the kind of book that makes me wish that I should have started taking my own roadside photos much earlier than 1980! I sort of wish that there was such a thing as time travel, I would take my camera and go back in time to take the photos I never had a chance to!

Well, be that as it may, Mr. Longstreth did take all these shots and we can certainly appreciate and admire them!

Diner Hotline is back from hiatus….

I’ll bet a lot of my regular readers who are not connected to me on Facebook have been wondering where I have been. The last post was at the beginning of May and I have been inactive ever since! In fact it is probably the longest period between posts since I started the blog on October 31, 2007! Well some of you know I had contracted with The History Press to author another Diner book…. this new one is called New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries. It is sort of a follow-up to my Classic Diners of Massachusetts that was published almost 3 years ago – October of 2011. I actually worked it out with the publisher to have a longer lead-time with this book but outside of taking a bunch of new photos in late summer and early fall of New Hampshire diners, I basically dragged my feet in the writing department through a portion of the winter. So with the deadline looming I pushed thru the remaining time that I had, between not only working my regular job and trying to write the manuscript, I also was dealing with a health issue that had been coming on.

Back at the end of January I learned that I had Type 2 Diabetes and had to make some lifestyle changes. With the help of my wife Denise, I changed my diet by cutting back on almost all carbohydrates and pretty much all sweets as well as started walking the treadmill at a local gym. So I had to work the gym time into the schedule with the regular work and book writing, which of course increased the anxiety of getting everything done! I am happy to say that all the hard work paid off. I lost around 40 pounds since January and am no longer considered in the diabetes range. I am classified as glucose intolerant which means I will pretty much have to always watch the carbs and sweets intake and am allowed the occasional cheat. I am currently (according to my new scale) just over 170 pounds which is pretty amazing as I probably have not been this weight in 30 years or more!

Larry,-11-3-2013
November of 2013 weighing in at around 214 pounds or so.

LAC-&-RJSG_4-13-2014
April 13, 2014 with Dick Gutman after my slide presentation at the
Morse Institute Library in Natick, Mass. In this photo I am under 180 pounds and
I am actually even lighter at the time of this post!

Anyway, I also met the deadlines for the book,as the photos were submitted a week before the July 1st deadline and the manuscript 2 days before the July 22nd deadline! I approached this book differently than the first as the diner scene in New Hampshire is not as straightforward (in my mind) as Massachusetts was. In Massachusetts I was able to separate the chapters into the different regions of the state which made writing that book fairly easy. New Hampshire’s diners can be classified as either spread out or concentrated into small groups, making the regional chapters unworkable. I instead decided to break the book in chapters that touched on the strengths of this particular demographic that the state seems to dictate. Starting out with “Lunch Wagons, I of course show some old postcards from the collection that depict lunch wagons in street scenes and then went on to feature Gilley’s P.M Lunch, the last surviving truck-pulled Worcester Lunch Car (now permanently anchored and no longer movable) in downtown Portsmouth. The other place I featured in this chapter was the Lion’s Corner Popcorn Wagon of Goffstown. I consider this a second cousin to a lunch wagon and that is why I included it here.

Image-001_Woodsville_1914
A postcard image showing a lunch wagon in Woodsville, NH circa 1914

Image-004Gilley's-Lunch-1
Gilley’s P.M. Lunch in Portsmouth, NH. April 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

Image-007_Lions-Popcorn-Wagon-5a
Lion’s Corner Popcorn Wagon in Goffstown, NH. May 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

Chapter 2 is the longest chapter that talks about “Long-time Favorites”, basically diners that have spent their entire life (or in some cases, most of their life) operating in the Granite State!

Image-016_Bristol-Diner--1
One of the Long-time Favorites is the Bristol Diner of Bristol, NH.
May 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

Image-029_Red-Arrow-Diner-1_5-18-2014
Another Long-time Favorite is the Milford Red Arrow Diner.
May 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

The 3rd Chapter is about “Transplanted Diners”. New Hampshire is unique in the New England region because even though a lot of diners have disappeared or moved out of state in the last 50 years, at least 8 or 9 diners have actually been moved into New Hampshire in the last 35 years after having operated in other states previously!

Image-039_Tilt'n-Diner_Linda's-Jackpot
The Tilt’n Diner when it was in Salisbury, Mass. as Linda’s Jackpot Diner.
Early 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Tilt’n Diner of Tilton, NH today. August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Image-045_Route-104-Diner_Lloyd's
The Route 104 Diner at its original location on Route 6 in Johnston, RI operating
as Lloyd’s Diner. October 29, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Route 104 Diner of New Hampton, NH today. August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Chapter 4 has the “Onsite/Homemade Diners” of which there are more than quite a few in the Granite State.

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George’s Diner of Meredith, NH. August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Joey’s Diner of Amherst, NH. May 18, 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

Chapter 5 is called “Former New Hampshire Diners Living Another Life Elsewhere” and deals with diners that have moved out of New Hampshire, either to a new operating location, or at the very least into storage for possible reuse.

Image-067_Tony's-Diner-NH-4
Tony’s Diner of Rye, NH. Early 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

Image-071_Louis'-Diner
Louis’ Diner of Concord, NH. Early 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

 

The last Chapter (6) brings attention to some “Lost Diners”, including ones I have managed to photograph since the early 1980s as well as old postcard images of others that do not exist anymore!

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The Lancaster Diner of Lancaster, NH. January 4, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Image-078_Andre's-Diner-1
Andre’s Diner of Manchester, NH. August 1984 photo by Larry Cultrera

 

A bonus that I had not planned to include was a piece on “Spider Osgood”, probably the most incredible short order cook ever to work a back bar! The idea cropped up while doing research and ended up being something that needed to be included in any book about New Hampshire Diners. Ken “Spider” Osgood was a well know character in and around the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and there are many people who have related stories about this guy over the years. I started hearing about him back around the mid-1980s and in 1989, while being interviewed by a producer for a segment on Diners for the CBS Sunday Morning show, the cameraman related a story to me about recalling this guy everyone called Spider working the grill of a diner he frequented back in his college days. So I googled his name and found this video made from a movie shot by Gary Anderson of New Hampshire Movies Inc. back in 1971. This shows Spider at his best late one night….  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR1Z99XgQew

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Spider Osgood at the Paugus Diner. 1991 photo by George Surabian

 

I recently got the first draft of what the cover will look like back from the publisher and besides an edit on the back of the cover this is pretty much the way it will look….

401.4-NH-Diners-cvr

I like the mix of new an old photos on this cover as in fact this book does feature a lot of before and after shots. More than the last book! I am also glad they took my suggestion of including Mary Ann’s Diner on the cover and that it is the largest image outside of the title block! For many years I have been looking to take the definitive photo of this on-site diner and was never successful. Part of the problem (OK, most of the problem) was the fact that I was always there in the morning and it was never the best light for a photo. Finally at the end of a day shooting diners for the book back in April, I was on my way back from the Lakes Region and decided to swing by on the way home. This was around 3:00 or 3:30 pm after the place closed for the day. It was the perfect light! When I downloaded it from the camera I saw this shot and said YES! This should be on the cover of the book!

The book should be published by October. I’ll keep you posted

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

Mike-&-Kim-cropped
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.

Larry-&-Kim
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
Mike,-Kim-&-Denise-2a
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!

July 4th Interview – Boston Globe

I was honored to be interviewed for a piece that appeared  in the Boston Globe “G” section on July 4th. It is part of their series called the “G Force”……..

 

Medford native celebrates classic diners

G Force
July 03, 2012

WHO

Larry Cultrera

WHAT

From 1988 to 2007, the Medford native wrote a column about diners for the Society for Commercial Archeology Journal. Since then, he has maintained
his Diner Hotline blog, and last year, he published “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” (The History Press), which goes into its third printing this month.

Q. You write that your journey started in 1980, and you have since visited and photographed more than 820 diners. What spurred your interest?

A. I’ve had an interest in diners since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t until 1979 or 1980 that I became aware they were disappearing. I was also getting into 35mm photography around that time and [diners] fed my different sensibilities: my love of history in particular. The history grabbed me.

Q. What about the history?

A. I knew that diners were built in factories; they weren’t generally built on-site. It wasn’t until 1980 that some books were starting to come out. First, John Baeder, the photo-realist artist, brought out “Diners” in 1978 and it featured his paintings and drawings. And in 1979 Richard Gutman brought out “American Diner,” which was the precursor to a book he brought out in the ’90s called “American Diner: Then & Now,” which has since become the bible for diner history. Once I started reading the history and figuring out there’s all these different manufacturers that used to build diners and some that still do at that point in time, you start identifying the different manufacturers by the different styles, details they put into their products.
So it was like how a classic car buff could look at a certain car and say, “Oh, that’s a 1957 Chevy Bel Air and it’s modified in this manner.’’ A diner buff can say, “That’s a 1948 Jerry O’Mahoney and it’s been altered by doing this or that ” or “most of it’s original.”                

Q. Are New England diners different from diners elsewhere?

A. What really differentiates northern New England diners from southern New England diners, say, Connecticut, or even Long Island, N.Y., or Pennsylvania diners, is the fact that after 1960, especially by 1965, we weren’t getting any new diners up here, whereas the diners down in New York, southern Connecticut, were continually being upgraded. Owners go back to the factories and have new diners built, generally bigger than what they had. Up here, you could call them conservative-style diners, because they were just very small. And they managed to hold on, still dwindling little by little over the years. We still have the greatest collection of early- to mid-20th century diners anywhere.

Q. Does interest in diners ebb and flow or are they destined to eventually become extinct?

A. It sort of goes in spurts. By the late ’70s, diners were really starting to die out, especially around here. But with the books that came out, there came a resurgence. Right now, you don’t see too much happening around here except there’s a chain called the 5 and Diner that started out in the southwest, Phoenix. In about 2006, a family from Massachusetts decided to buy a franchise of the 5 and Diner and they opened it in Worcester, where the history of diner-building started. And within two years, they bought the whole chain.

Q. Which local diners are your favorites?

A. The Capitol Diner in Lynn, which has been run by the same family since the late ’30s, and the Salem Diner. Even though its current owners are fairly new to the diner, they’ve been in the restaurant business for many years and they are continuing the tradition at the Salem Diner and have rejuvenated
that place.

Q. In your photo, you’re wearing a shirt from Tim’s Diner in Leominster. What’s the story?

A. It’s a great diner and one of my favorites, primarily open only in the mornings. It’s one of the diners I wish I lived closer to because I’d be there a lot more often. The family that’s been running it has been running it since the early ’50s. It was originally known as Roy’s Diner. They’re famous for their fish chowder. The locals can’t wait for Fridays. It goes right out the door.

Interviewed by Glenn Yoder

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, 9-5-2011

Diners of Pennsylvania, Second Edition


Diners of Pennsylvania Front Cover, Second Edition

I got my official copy of Diners of Pennsylvania back in March. I have also been meaning to mention something here about this book but the writing of my own book, Classic Diners of Massachusetts for “The History Press” sort of took priority. I actually read this new version prior to publication (and prior to receiving my hardcopy) as I was privileged to be one of the people to write a blurb for the back cover. This book, published by “Stackpole Books” out of Mechanicsburg, PA is the latest in this series that the publisher initiated with the first edition (of Diners of Pennsylvania) back in 1999.

Back then co-authors Brian Butko and Kevin Patrick did an outstanding job. In fact, I will say it was groundbreaking in the compilation of information along with the photos and maps that accompanied the text, (as I said in my blurb on the back cover) making it a benchmark for all the other books that followed it!  Thanks to the combined effort of Butko, Patrick and editor Kyle Weaver (the 3rd co-author for this new edition), this updated version surpasses the first remarkably without effort. It also helps that all the photos are in full color this time around, making for the finest presentation of any the publisher has done previously.

According to Brian Butko, Kyle Weaver did the “on the road” research, sometimes with other people along. Brian says; “so for example, he and I drove Western PA together. Plus I had been collecting updates along the way. Then we all proofed it together. It’s very much a 3-way effort – not that we did it all together, but our parts blend seamlessly I think”. I would have to agree with Brian, it did all blend seamlessly and it is a must for any diner afficianado’s book collection!

Peanut Mobile sighting in Boston on July 30th

Denise and I took a subway ride into Boston on July 30th and checked out the Planters Peanut Mobile at City Hall Plaza. The vehicle was on a National Tour and had stopped in Beantown that weekend!


Planters Peanut Mobile, July 30, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Planters Peanut Mobile, July 30, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Planters Peanut Mobile, July 30, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Larry & Denise Cultrera with Mister Peanut, photo courtesy of
Planters Peanuts

While we were there, we walked over to an adjacent building and I finally shot the famous steaming “Teapot”….

Mike O’Connor checks in with an update on his continuing restoration of Worcester Lunch Car No. 705

Thought you might like to see how Worcester Lunch Car No. 705 is progressing, feel free to post them on your weblog! Dennis Day from Sterling, Mass. did the lettering he took his time and did a great job. We are very happy with the whole project and can’t thank Gary Thomas enough for his great work on No. 705 ! I’m planning on keeping it here on my property and enjoying it with our friends. It is a great place for car club meetings, etc. regards, Mike & Maggie Ann O’Connor


Interior of Worcester Lunch car No. 705. All the back-bar cabinetry was created by Gary Thomas. Photo courtesy of Mike O’Connor.


Exterior showing the newly painted lettering. The diner now has its original name back on it. The Park Diner was delivered to Horace Mayhew in Salem, NH on June 14, 1933. Photo courtesy of Mike O’Connor.


Maggie Ann’s The Park Diner with all the exterior lights on.
Photo courtesy of Mike O’Connor.

Latest acquisition for my Diner Postcard collection

I was checking Ebay recently and saw a postcard I did not know existed! It was a “long” postcard of the original Prospect Mountain Diner, a “double-wide” 1950 Silk City diner that was destroyed in a fire a few years ago. Located in Lake George, NY, I have memories from my teen years when my family vacationed in that resort town, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
I also frequented the diner many times since then, whenever I was in Lake George. Therefore, it really saddened me when the diner burned! There were not that many examples of a double-wide Silk City to my knowledge, and this was almost pristine. Anyway, here is the postcard I purchased…..


Postcard view showing exterior of diner with an interior view of the Rickshaw Room Annex as well as the kitchen. This was a rarity, the diner served a typical comfort food menu while the annex served Chinese cuisine.

Diner Hotline is back from hiatus!

It has been over a month since the last time I posted anything here. I was in the last stages of finishing the manuscript for “Classic Diners of Massachusetts”. I felt guilty for not posting but needed to get the book done. I emailed the captions and manuscript last Sunday and spoke with Jeff, (my Commissioning Editor at The History Press) a couple of times this week. He had sent me a “proof” for the cover and I made some suggestions. Jeff also informed me that the book is scheduled to go to print during the second week in September. I was surprised! Did not think it would be that soon. So If all goes well, the book will more than likely be available in October.

Below is a slightly reworked version of the “proof” for the cover…..


This is the way the cover for the book will look. I am really excited.

Don Williams inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame

Some people may be wondering why I am posting about a performer being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on a Diner blog. Well let me assure you there is a “Diner” connection to this. In my collection of Diner Memorabilia, I have a sub-collection of 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record albums that feature “Diners” in their cover art, (case in point – the Abandoned Luncheonette album by Daryl Hall & John Oates). One of the other albums in the collection is actually a signed promo copy of Don Williams’ Cafe Carolina, see image below…..

In the photo on the album cover, Don is sitting at a table inside Loftis Lunch located in Nashville, TN. My pal John Baeder is credited with the “Art Direction” for this album and the photo was shot by John’s friend, “McGuire”. Right after John sent this promo copy to me circa 1984, I called John to thank him and also to ask him an important question about the photo, I asked him, was the photo on the album cover shot after the one John took of me in October of 1983. He said yes! It seems the photo below of me sitting in the exact same place may have been an inspiration for the album cover!


Larry Cultrera (me) sitting at the same table in Loftis Lunch
Photo by John Baeder, circa October, 1983


Loftis Lunch, Nashville, TN circa October, 1983 photo by Larry Cultrera

Loftis Lunch was a site-built diner-type restaurant circa 1930’s. I’m not sure it is operating anymore but it certainly was a unique place.

Anyway, I’d like to congratulate Don Williams for getting inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. See the link below for more info.
http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2010/02/23/jimmy-dean-ferlin-husky-billy-sherrill-don-williams-to-join-country-music-hall-of-fame/

Diner Hotline Weblog 2 years old today!

lac-yankee
From  a 1991 Yankee magazine article called “Devoted to Diners”

Today marks the 2 year anniversary of this blog being on the internet! The time has gone by so fast. Of course the blog follows just about 19 years of the hardcopy version of Diner Hotline featured as a regular column in  the SCA’s (Society for Commercial Archeology’s)  Journal magazine. In fact, if I think about it, towards the end of the coming month, I have been photographing diners 29 years.

Whoo!!!! Time really has flown! I was a mere 27 years old when I shot my first diner….  the Bypass Diner of Harrisburg, PA (now the American Dream Diner), see below……

bypass
The very first Diner photograph I ever shot!

Some stats from the blog since 10-31-07…

Total Views = 71, 727
Posts (including this one) = 190
Approved Comments = 481
Busiest Day = 511 views, 1-16-09

Thank you to everyone who are regular readers of this blog! I know I’m having fun writing it!

Larry Cultrera