Final visit to the Miss Adams Diner under current operators

Miss-Adams-Diner-3a
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!

Another “Author’s Event” for Classic Diners of Massachusetts

I just booked a second “Author’s Event” for November 19th at the Somerville Public Library, 10:00 am to 11:30 am. This will be at the main branch of the Library, 79 Highland Avenue in Somerville, Mass.  and held in conjunction with the Harvard COOP/Barnes and Noble. Here is a link to the Library’s event page….. http://www.eventkeeper.com/code/events.cfm?curOrg=SVILLE&curApp=events&curMonth=11&curYear=2011&SelectedDate=11/19/2011#11/19/2011

I will be doing a short slide presentation to go with the book signing at this event. This of course follows the event in Westborough at Tatnuck Booksellers on November 12th (announced in the previous post).

I am also getting some positive feedback from people who have already received their copy of the book. Philomene Belair at the Miss Adams Diner tells me she has sold quite a few copies of the book. David Bergstrom from Lynn says…. Larry just finished your book, love it, love it, great job! I love the way you laid it out !! Really good read. I was talking with Perry at Don’s Diner they have your book on sale there ! I bought mine on line at Barnes and Nobel. I have to catch up and have you autograph it for me !! Congrats and much success .

Thanks David!

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…..

Worcester Lunch Cars No. 821 thru 828

Following up on last weeks post, I decided to show the next group of Worcester Lunch Cars. As I said at the end of the last post, Worcester Lunch Car No. 820 the former Stadium Diner of Everett, Mass. (aka the Miss Everett) was destroyed in the early 1970’s. But WLC No’s. 821 thru 828 are still in existence although not all are close to original condition or serving food.

Miss Adams Diner, WLC No.821


Miss Adams Diner at its only operating location, 53 Park St., Adams, Mass.

The Miss Adams Diner was delivered to Joseph Wilusz on December 7th, 1949 and it is still being used as a restaurant. When I first found it in the early 1980’s, it was known as the Peir 53 Restaurant. It had already gained its stone facade (instead of the porcelain steel panels) at that point. The interior was fairly original though. It has since operated under various names and had its interior trashed to a degree in the intervening years but recently went back to the original name since the property was sold. We are hopeful that new operator Philomene Rivard will return some of the lustre to this late model Worcester out in the western part of the Bay State.

Carmen’s Diner, WLC No. 822


WLC No. 822 now operating as the Computer Exchange on U.S. Rte.1,
728 Washington Street in Attleboro, Mass.

Originally known as Carmen’s Diner, it was delivered to its first operating location on Mechanic Street in Leominster, Mass. on November 1st, 1949. Sometime later it made it down to its current location in Attleboro, where it was known as the Mayflower Diner. When I first spotted this in the early 1980’s it was being used as a Ceramics Studio. Later it was a clothing store known as Bogie & Bacall’s. It is now a computer store and the interior is completely gone. You can also see from the above photo that the barrel roof is hidden.

Miss Mendon Diner, WLC No. 823


The Miss Mendon Diner, located on Rte. 16 in Mendon, Mass

Regular readers of this blog know that the Miss Mendon Diner in Mendon, Mass. was reopened this past January after being in storage for a number of years. Originally called the Miss Newport Diner, it was delivered to Noble Croft on May 16th, 1950 at its first operating location on East Main St. in Newport, VT. It operated there until it was moved in 2003 to Salisbury, Mass. where it was being stored. Kevin Meehan, owner of Imperial Cars bought the diner in 2008 and started the process of bringing this beauty back to life.

Ann’s Diner, WLC No. 824


Currently operating as Pat’s Diner, it is seen in this shot prior to the porcelain steel panels being removed by the current owner.

Ann’s Diner is now Pat’s Diner. Delivered on April 14th, 1950 to James F. Evans, it replaced an earlier monitor-roof Worcester Car that had been here for 2 years on U.S. Rte. 1 (11 Bridge Rd.) in Salisbury, Mass. It has a unique interior set-up, there is the typical counter and stools with 4 booths on the right-hand end of the diner with a partition just to the left of the front entrance. There is a large pocket sliding door in this partition to access a dining room that houses 6 booths. After Pat Archambault purchased the diner a few years ago, she removed the exterior porcelain steel panels and replaced them with t-111 wooden panels. other than that the diner is probably 90% original inside and out.

Bluebonnet Diner, WLC No. 825


Bluebonnet Diner at its only operating location 324 King St. (Rte’s. 5 & 10)
in Northampton, Mass. (Delivered May 12th, 1950)

The Bluebonnet Diner is the first of 3 diners that were built with this interesting configuration. It was built with 5 windows flanked by a door at each end of the front facade. The other 2 that were designed like this were the Miss Beverly Diner (No. 828) and Arthur’s Diner (No. 830). Eventually the owners of the Bluebonnet Diner wanted more room and decided to add onto the diner. They did this rather ingeneously by removing the left end wall and swinging it out to be level with the front facade. Then they made the addition behind this new front section. You can get a feel for what was done by looking closely at the details behind the windows in the wooden entryway as seen in the above photo. The diner not only has the added dining room but also a large function facility behind.

Jigger’s Diner, WLC No. 826


Jigger’s Diner, 145 Main St. (U.S. Rte. 1) in East Greenwich, RI
The diner was delivered here on June 21st, 1950 to Leonard Boren.

Jigger’s Diner during a small stretch in the 1980’s was completely gutted and used for storage by a neighboring paint store. It looked like this could be the end for this in-town diner until Carol Shriner got her hands on this and actually brought it back to life. Only someone with a trained eye could possibly see what is original and what is not. Carol has since moved on to other ventures but the diner is still going strong. Ordering the johnny cakes here is certainly a treat.

Peterboro Diner, WLC No. 827


Peterboro Diner as it currently looks. The original windows have been replaced. Located at 10 Depot St. just off School and Main Sts. in downtown
Peterboro, the diner was delivered on September 20th, 1950.

When I first visited this diner in the early 1980’s, it was still being run by Edward Fontaine, a brother of the original owner, Milton Fontaine. The diner was a perfectly preserved stand-alone lunch car. It was built with a partitioned-off kitchen on the right-hand end of the building as well as having the grill behind the counter. Within a couple of years the diner was sold to new owners who immediately made changes. They removed the partition and auxiliary kitchen, added new booths in this section and a large addition off the back of the diner. The large addition had room for a new kitchen, restrooms as well as more seating. They removed the grill and adjacent work station and cut a door to the new kitchen. Since then they upgraded to newer generic booths and have more recently changed the windows. I was intitially appalled at the changes, but as the years have gone by, I have mellowed my feelings and now think this place has a great small-town diner ambience.

Miss Beverly Diner, WLC No. 828


The Miss Beverly Diner as Buffalo Bill’s Roast Beef located at
386 Cabot St., Rte. 1A in Beverly, Mass. It has since been changed to a Subway Sandwich Shop. This diner was delivered on December 14th, 1950.

I recall when the Miss Beverly Diner was still the Miss Beverly Diner. This was back in the early to mid 1970’s. I never went in there although I’m sure I had plenty of opportunities at that time, as my sister lived right around the corner then. By the time I was photographing diners in 1980 the place had become Buffalo Bill’s Roast Beef. As seen in the above photo, the exterior was bricked-up under the windows and a mansard roof was built covering the original roof. Other than that the exterior changes could have been reversed. The interior was better as they still had the counter but just like Beachmont Roast Beef  (from the last post) the counter was raised to be a take-out type sevring counter. The stools were also removed and I believe the booths were changed also. It stayed this way until a few years ago when it had been closed for a short time. Then unfortunately, Subway Sandwich Shops bought the building and completely gutted the interior! If this had not happened, the place could have easily been brought back as a working diner.

This ends this series of consecutively numbered Worcester Lunch Cars as No’s 829 and 830 no longer exist. No’s. 831 thru 835 are extant, No. 836 is probably gone. No’s 837 thru 839 are still around while No. 840 is not. It is like this thru the 840’s where some are still with us and some are not. The last Worcester Lunch Car out of the factory was No. 850, currently the Route 104 Diner in New Hampton, NH.