Marking 13 years of blogging, Diner Hotline style…

This coming Saturday, October 31, 2020 will mark 13 years since I started this blog. Granted I have not been very regular with my posts this year, but there is nothing “very regular” about this year anyway!

Truth be told, I am still working on my multi-year project – scanning of my diner photos/slides. I have completed scanning all the 35mm slides that I shot between March 1983 thru to mid-2008. For the last two years I have been slogging thru the scanning and cleaning up of the 35mm prints I shot between November, 1980 and March, 1983. The prints take longer as the clean-up/enhancing is fairly time consuming as I am extremely particular on how the photos should look.

To mark this anniversary, I want to look back to the origins of Diner Hotline and how it eventually morphed into this blog. Diner Hotline started way back in the early to mid-1980s (long before the internet) as an unofficial way to communicate info and issues concerning American Diners. Basically I would phone Dick Gutman, John Baeder, David Hebb or other interested people (usually a select group of like-minded members of the Society for Commercial Archeology) to let them know some tidbit of info on the goings on in the diner community. I would usually start off the greeting by saying… “Diner Hotline, Diner Hotline” and then proceed to impart the news I had to tell the particular individual that I had called.

In November of 1988, the Society for Commercial Archeology had a yearly gathering hosted by The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a memorable event with hundreds of people from all over the country in attendance. A few weeks after I attended the event, I had phoned the then President of the SCA, Michael B. “Mike” Jackson. I happened to mention some now forgotten diner news and he suggested that I should write a piece for the SCA NewsJournal. He even went as far as saying it should be a regular column! My first reaction was to almost decline as in my mind, I was not a writer. But as we continued talking, I started to warm up to the idea and basically said yes, I would give it a shot. I do recall telling Mike that I already had a name for the column – Diner Hotline.

So, in December of 1988, I wrote the first brief installment of Diner Hotline. It appeared in the Spring, 1989 issue of the SCA NewsJournal.

the front cover of the Spring, 1989 Issue of the SCA NewsJournal.
You can see the first official reference to Diner Hotline in the bottom right corner…
Page 10 of the Spring, 1989 SCA NewsJournal showing my first Diner Hotline

I continued to write Diner Hotline, which became the first ever regular column for any of the SCA publications. Within a few years, the SCA Board of Directors decided the NewsJournal was not being produced as frequently as they would have liked. After all, it sort of started as a newsletter that had actually outgrown the format and it was taking longer for all the different pieces of the puzzle to come together and be published. It was decided to revamp the concept and split the publication into a newsletter called The SCA News which would be published four times a year. They would also create a new publication, a magazine called the SCA Journal which would be published twice a year. The Board offered me the option as to which publication to contribute Diner Hotline to. I opted for the Journal as I would only have two deadlines.

I wrote all but one Diner Hotline from that first Spring, 1989 Issue of the NewsJournal until the Fall, 2007 Issue of the Journal when I officially retired the column.

The cover from the Fall, 2007 Issue of the Journal featuring my final Diner Hotline for the SCA
Page 30 of the Fall, 2007 Issue showing my last Diner Hotline
Page 31 with the continuation of my final SCA Diner Hotline
Page 36 showing the last page of my final SCA Diner Hotline

So, not long after I retired the Diner Hotline column I was convinced by long-time friend Brian Butko to create this blog. He suggested the WordPress platform to use for this new endeavor. I checked it out and made my first tentative post into blogging on October 31, 2007. Here is the link to that short piece… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/

Since that inauspicious & brief blog post, I have written many posts! Quite a few have taken a life of their own, such as an early one on local (to the Boston area) drive-in restaurants… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/drive-in-restaurants-from-years-past/ and my personal favorite is the only post that was co-written by me and someone else (my friend Matt Simmons)… the one about the The Abandoned Luncheonette, aka the Rosedale Diner, the diner depicted on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates 1973 LP of the same name…. https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-story-of-the-the-abandoned-luncheonette-aka-the-rosedale-diner/ Those two blog posts have generated the most comments by far!

But the biggest thing that happened was being contacted by The History Press in early 2011 about the possibility of me authoring a book for them on Diners. It was initially proposed as a book on Diners of New England. But I was familiar with the books that The History Press put out and I informed the editor that you could not do justice to the region with a book that only had just under 200 pages. So it was suggested that I do one on Massachusetts Diners. I agreed that would be more doable and put together an outline which was accepted. This led to me writing my first book for them entitled Classic Diners of Massachusetts (October, 2011) and ultimately my second book, New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries (October, 2014).

After these books came out, I continued to write the blog but the frequency of posts have dwindled. But I promise that I will continue to keep the blog alive and make more posts. The next one will be in a month to mark a huge milestone – 40 years of photographing diners!

Thanks for coming along for the ride!!!

Diner Hotline weblog – 8 years old today!!!

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October 31, 2015 is of course Halloween, but also the date marks the 8th anniversary of the creation of this blog! As some of my readers know, Diner Hotline started as the first regular column to ever appear in the publications of the Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA). It was suggested to me by Mike Jackson (then president of the SCA) in the Fall of 1988 during a phone conversation that I could possibly write a piece to appear in the SCA News Journal. The News Journal was the organization’s only regular publication at the time that was a combination newsletter/magazine.

When he suggested to me about writing a column, I first thought… I am not a writer, but then again I read a lot and could probably relate personal tales associated with diners and happen to have had some good info and sources at my disposal to possibly attempt something like this. I also thought that it was an opportunity to be one of the few “non-academic voices” (basically the average everyday roadside enthusiast) contributing to the publication. I even recall saying to Mike… I already have a name for the column, “Diner Hotline”, which had been a sort of inside joke between myself, David Hebb , Dick Gutman and John Baeder. I had been known to call any and all of these guys on the phone when I had some juicy tid-bits of news and other information about a diner. As soon as they answered the phone, I would preface by saying “DINER HOTLINE, DINER HOTLINE” and then impart the info!

Thus, Diner Hotline became a reality and the first short piece appeared in the Spring 1989 edition (Volume 10, Number 1) of the SCA News Journal continuing through to when the publication separated into two different entities, the SCA News (a newsletter) and the SCA Journal (a full fledged magazine) The News was published more frequently while the Journal was twice a year. I opted for Diner Hotline to continue in the Journal (only two deadlines a year). My Hotline contributions went though a whole host of Journal editors over the years and continued until  the Fall 2007 edition of the SCA Journal when I retired the column.

Shortly after I retired the column (almost immediately actually) my good friend Brian Butko mentioned to me in passing that I should start a blog! So I asked him some questions about how to go about doing this and by the last day of October of 2007, the blog was born!

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So I want to mention that coming up really soon, I will be reviewing the new book about my pal John Baeder (John Baeder’s Road Well Taken). Written by Jay Williams, it is an extremely heavy book (figuratively as well as literally). It is filled with many of his paintings (diner and non-diner) and delves into John’s psyche and how all the influences in his life lead him to become one of the internationally renowned artists of our time.

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Also, I have another Author event coming up on Friday evening, November 6th at Gibson’s Bookstore (Concord’s indie bookstore since 1898) in downtown Concord, NH. Starting at 5:30pm with a small slide presentation followed by a book signing for my New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries. Gibson’s Bookstore is located at 45 South Main St, Concord, NH 03301

http://www.gibsonsbookstore.com/event/nh-diners

Another Author Event, August 15th at Barnes & Noble – Portsmouth/Newington, NH

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I have another Author Event for my New Hampshire Diners book is slated for the New Hampshire Seacoast area, tomorrow – August 15th at the Barnes & Noble store at Fox Run Crossings, 45 Gosling Road (The Crossings), Newington, NH 03801 – Phone Number (603) 422-7733  or go online for directions. It is about a mile from the Portsmouth Traffic Circle convenient to U.S. Route 1, I-95 and NH Rtes. 4 & 16

The event is from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

I have heard since they started advertising it last month with a display, they have sold a bunch of books. I emailed them this morning and they asked me to bring extra copies if I have them and they will reimburse me with new copies if we have to get into my stash!

Author Event @ Barnes & Noble – Nashua, NH

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This coming Saturday, June 20, 2015, I am doing an author’s event for my book New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries at the Barnes & Noble store located at the corner of Daniel Webster Highway and Spit Brook Road in Nashua, NH. I will be holding forth between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Signing books and talking about diners!

1st official NH Diners presentation/lecture – March 28, 2015

I have put together the 1st official Power Point slide presentation for a lecture that is based on my New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries book. The date is Saturday – March 28, 2015 at 10:30 AM and will be held at there Sandown Public Library – 305 Main Street Route 121A in Sandown, NH. This presentation has a short diner history section at the beginning as well as a new video feature at the very end. I am excited to do this revamped show and may make similar changes for the one based on the Classic Diners of Massachusetts book. I have been told that seating is limited so if you are planning to attend, give the library a call at 603-887-3428.

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TV appearance this week to publicize New Hampshire Diners book

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I am pleased to say that I will be making an appearance on the TV show “New Hampshire Chronicle” to help publicize my recently published book, New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries! This will be on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm on Channel 9, WMUR-TV out of Manchester, NH. Also appearing will be diner owners including Jeff Day of Plain Jane’s Diner, Dori Dearborn of the Main Street Station Diner, Rose Pucci of the Union Diner and Carol L. Lawrence of the Red Arrow Diners. If you do not get this station locally, it will be on their website probably within a few days of the initial air date. I will be posting a link when it is up.

First Author Event for New Hampshire Diners book set

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The first Author Event for my book New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries is set for Sunday, October 26, 2014. It will be at the Barnes & Noble store in Salem, NH! I will be signing books from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Here is the announcement from their website…
http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/4767982
The store is located at 125 S Broadway Route 28 in Salem, NH right across the street from Rockingham Park Racetrack. Phone is 603-898-1930

New Hampshire Diners: Classic Granite State Eateries available for pre-ordering

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While the official publishing date for my New Hampshire Diner book is October 7th. I was contacted by my publisher the other day and was told the book is now available for pre-ordering! It is getting closer to reality! If anyone is interested, there are at least 3 different places to pre-order the book. The first is directly from my publisher… The History Press, you can check it out here at  https://historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/New-Hampshire-Diners/9781626194014.
Another place is Amazon… http://www.amazon.com/New-Hampshire-Diners-Eateries-American/dp/1626194017
and still another would be Barnes & Noble… http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/new-hampshire-diners-larry-cultrera/1119826883?ean=9781626194014.

If you want to see a little tease as to what’s inside check out this link at…

http://books.google.com/books?id=TmxhBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=new+hampshire+diners:+classic+granite+state+eateries
&source=bl&ots=Ie7fTZCNeI&sig=UX2PJU8yRoJZGrH8__3tiCNdIYQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xaQQVMHPCN
H2yQS81oCYCA&ved=0CFMQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=new%20hampshire%20diners%3A%20classic
%20granite%20state%20eateries&f=false

 

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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!

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November of 2013 weighing in at around 214 pounds or so.

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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.

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A postcard image showing a lunch wagon in Woodsville, NH circa 1914

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Gilley’s P.M. Lunch in Portsmouth, NH. April 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

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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!

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

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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!

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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

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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.

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Tony’s Diner of Rye, NH. Early 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

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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

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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….

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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