I left off the last post (April Vacation, 2011 – Part 1) checking out Dewey’s Diner and Inga’s Diner on Fuller Road in Albany, NY. Next up was the Farmer Boy Diner on Central Avenue (Rte. 5) in Colonie. This was not a new diner for me but a new version of one I photographed back in October of 1982. The original one I photographed was a 1972 vintage Paramount Diner (I originally guessed this was a Swingle but the owner told us Paramount) and was replaced by the current one in 1992.
After leaving the Farmer Boy Diner, we shot over to U.S. Route 20 to get over to Duanesburg and see Joe Merli’s little set-up of old wagons, trucks, trains and buildings. Chief among the items Joe has is another old diner I photographed, circa 1981…. the old 9 & 20 Diner from Schodack, NY, south of Albany. He moved it here in 2009 and it is now on a cement pad with a tarp over it.
We headed back east about a mile on Route 20 toward Albany and stopped for dinner in Princetown at the Chuck Wagon Diner. The Chuck Wagon is another transplanted diner that was brought here in 2007 by Tom and Sally Ketchum. The Chuck Wagon Diner (a Mountain View Diner) operated from 1956 to 1976 in Champaign, Illinois. It closed in 1976 and was auctioned off. The diner ended up in nearby Urbana, IL and operated as the Elite Diner in the 1980’s. It eventually closed and was moved, ending up in storage in Detroit, Michigan by 2002 where the Ketchums found it 5 years later. They spent some time restoring the diner and placing it on a foundation with an attached kitchen, diningroom, restrooms and full basement. Ironically there was a fantastic neon sign that had been on the diner back in the Champaign, IL days, and the crowning achievement was in being contacted by the person who bought that sign at the auction back in 1976. They offered to sell it to the Ketchums, who needless to say, were happy to get the sign and had it refurbished! The diner reopened in April, 2010 and the original owner was there.
It was cloudy and drizzly the next morning when I got an early breakfast at the Gateway Diner on Central Avenue in Albany. Denise and I had eaten here back in 2002, but I never photographed it. So this particular morning was not condusive to photos either so I came back in the early afternoon and shot 2 really nice photos.
So, to get back to why I came out to Albany…… I have been a huge fan of Tommy James since his heyday in the mid-to-late 1960’s. I have caught at least 5, if not 6 of his concerts since 1979. He still puts on a fantastic show! In fact I would be willing to say that his voice is as good now, if not better than it was over 40 years ago. I brought my copy of his book along with an LP of his from 1977. This LP, Midnight Rider was actually autographed by Tommy back in 1979, but due to the fact that he signed it with a ball point pen, it has kind of faded over the intervening years.
I also brought a real collectors item from my collection, a “Picture Book” by “It’s a Visual Thing” that was put out about 1969. It was almost the size of a 33 1/3 record album cover but it had no vinyl. It was made up of a number of pages filled with photos from a publicity shoot for the band. There were a number of these put out for other bands as well, I believe Iron Butterfly may have been another band that had one made.
So, I went down the street from where I had been staying at the Travelodge to the Albany Marriott. This was where the Rock n’ Roll Expo was being held. I got there plenty early and was one of the first waiting for Tommy to show up. I met and spoke with his manager, Carol Ross-Durborow who was very pleasant. I also met Martin Fitzpatrick who was Tommy’s co-writer for the book. Tommy was detained by a TV interview but finally came in to the hall and said hi to me. He autographed the things I brought and spoke with me for a couple or 4 minutes. Then I handed my camera over to someone I had just met and they were able to snap a decent shot of Tommy and I!
I went back to the motel hoping to take a nap, but I turned on the laptop computer and went on Facebook after checking email. I saw that Mike Engle was on and chatted with him, asking him if he wanted to do lunch. We ended up meeting at the Latham 76 Diner in Latham. I had driven by this place many times over the years (including once the day before) and felt it was time to finally make its acquaintance. I got there a few minutes before Mike and got quite a few photos, here are a couple….
After lunch, Mike and I went our seperate ways. I went back to Albany and snapped those photos of the Gateway Diner, then went back to the motel. Right after I arrived, Glenn Wells called. He was done with his personal obligations for the day and wanted to take me on a little excursion down to the Taconic Parkway area. The first place we visited was the wonderfully restored 1925 vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner called Dan’s Diner. Yet again this was another diner I was familiar with at a previous location. Formerly operated as Moe’s Diner in Durham, CT, it was bought by Dan Rundell in 1993 and moved to his property on Route 203 in Spencertown, NY. Dan spent over 10 years restoring this. The diner reopened almost 2 years ago.
Glenn and I went over to Ancram, NY and had a little something to eat at the West Taghkanic Diner, a beautifully preserved Mountain View Diner. Unfortunately, this is the second time I have visited this place in the middle of the afternoon and the light for photographs is not really perfect at that time of the day. But I made the most of it.
The final destination for our little Taconic Parkway trip was the newly transplanted Elizaville Diner. Here is yet another diner I have photographed at a previous location… as the former Eat Well Diner of Lebanon, PA. I had never had a meal or been inside this diner at the old location, so this was a treat. The new owners did a wonderful job of bringing the diner back to life. They removed the mansard roof that had been installed (back in the 1970’s, I presume) and there was minimal damage to the structure.
That’s it for the New York part of the vacation, the next post will be about the diners I stopped at on the way back through Massachusetts (April Vacation, 2011 – Part 3) coming soon!