Dedication of Plaque for owners of Carroll’s Diner

Carroll's-logo
As many people who follow this blog know, I have been documenting diners going on 33 years (next month) and have photographed over 830 of them in that time. I think back of all the diners and people I have met thru this personal research project over the years, but I always go back to my early experiences. The ones I can trace all the way back to growing up in Medford, Massachusetts in the 1950’s thru the 1970’s. I had  3 diners that I would get the chance to frequent during that time period, Bobbie’s Diner and the Star Lite Diner both on Mystic Avenue and Carroll’s Colonial Dining Car on Main Street. I have to say the diner I spent the most amount of time in was Carroll’s Diner, partially because it outlasted all the others, but there were many other reasons as well.

Carroll’s was THE meeting place for all of Medford and beyond! It was open 24/7 and was the place to go to “see and be seen”. There was many a late night/early morning spent waiting in line to get in the diner after last call at the local bars and clubs. Also for a time, it seems I was there daily hangin’ with my friends, usually multiple times in a day. I recall cruising into the front parking lot to see if any of my friends cars were parked, continuing into the back parking lot to check there as well. Now granted, the presence of someone’s car did not always mean they were actually there, so of course we had to go in to see if they in fact were! Ah, memories…. I have many for sure….. the stories I could tell!

There were actually 3 incarnations of Carroll’s, a 1928 Brill Diner that operated from 1930 to 1948. That first diner actually remained on-site, becoming the kitchen for the 2nd Carroll’s Diner…. a 1948 stainless steel Jerry O’Mahony Diner. The O’Mahony operated until 1961 when it was replaced by an “L” shaped Swingle Diner that was placed on the adjoining property. The Carroll brothers, Maury and Jack actually were on the cutting edge when they bought that Swingle Diner. It was undoubtedly the most modern diner not only in the greater Boston area, but in fact all of northern New England for the next few years. This third and last incarnation of Carroll’s operated until December of 1986.

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Carroll’s Diner, August 1983 photo by Larry Cultrera

One of the more memorable stories I can relate was the time in March, 1986 when I was interviewed by the late Donald Dale Jackson, a talented frequent contributor to Smithsonian Magazine. We sat in a booth at Carroll’s and talked about diners and my involvement with them. I have to say that this particular piece he wrote single handedly  increased my standing as one of the most visible Diner Buffs in the country. Ironically, I was not the only Medford guy included in that article. John F. Carroll Jr. (Jack Carroll’s son) was also interviewed for this piece!

I am honored to say that in the early to mid 1990’s John and I became friends and remained in contact with each other until his untimely passing due to cancer in January of 1996. Through him I renewed my past acquaintanceship with his cousins Maury, Tom and Paul, as well as his dad Jack and Uncle Maury. I took it upon myself to write a history of the Carroll family’s involvement in the diner business within the last year and a half for this blog in honor of the opening of Carroll’s Bar & Grill in Medford Square (the restaurant opened in May, 2012). You can read this history here…… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/carrolls-bar-grille-looking-at-spring-opening-in-medford-mass/.

On September 27th, I received an email from the City of Medford with an invitation to attend a dedication ceremony to be held on Saturday, October 5th. This ceremony was being held at 101 Main Street in Medford (the former site of Carroll’s Diner) where a newly refurbished island in the median strip separating the north and southbound lanes of Main Street (Route 38) was to be dedicated with a plaque honoring Maurice W. Carroll Sr., Maurice W. “Maury” Carroll Jr. and John F. “Jack” Carroll, the owners of Carroll’s Diner.

Well Denise and I did attend the ceremony along with my brother Rick. There was a decent crowd of people there along with Mayor Michael McGlynn, and members of the City Council and School Committee as well as State Representative Paul Donato. Many members of the Carroll family were in attendance including Mrs. Dolores Carroll, the late Maury Jr’s wife, Maury Carroll III and his wife Carla as well as their 3 children Lesley, Jill and Maury IV. Maury III’s brothers Tom and Paul, Paul’s wife Debbie with their children Courtney Albano, David Carroll and Michael Carroll as well as their sister, Diane DeBenedictis with her husband Frank and daughters Christina Walker & Deanna DeBenedictis.  Marianne Galeazzi, daughter of the late Jack Carroll was also there with her husband Rick. I apologize if I left anyone out.

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It was nice to see the restaurant’s logo which has existed since the 1950’s and resurrected for the new Carroll’s Bar & Grill located a block down the street on the new plaque. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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At the dedication of the plaque, standing on the wall from left to right,Paul Carroll, Tom Carroll and Maury Carroll III. On the street from left to right is Mrs. Dolores Carroll (partially hidden), Diane DeBenedictis, Marrianne Galeazzi and Mayor Michael McGlynn. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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At the dedication of the plaque, standing on the wall from left to right,Paul Carroll, Tom Carroll and Maury Carroll III. On the street from left to right is Mrs. Dolores Carroll (partially hidden), Diane DeBenedictis, Marrianne Galeazzi and Mayor Michael McGlynn. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Maury Carroll addressing the crowd after the unveiling of the plaque.
October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Singing  God Bless America (lead by the talented Deanna DeBenedictis) with other members of the Carroll family, accompanied by the Medford High Alumni band.
October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Following the ceremony, the crowd was invited back to Carroll’s Bar & Grill for some food and refreshments…….

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A photo of the attendees enjoying some food and refreshments at Carroll’s Bar & Grill after the dedication ceremony. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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A photo of the attendees enjoying some food and refreshments at Carroll’s Bar & Grill after the dedication ceremony. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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A photo of the attendees enjoying some food and refreshments at Carroll’s Bar & Grill after the dedication ceremony. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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One of 2 remaining decorative stainless steel “C’s” that had been mounted on the tall chimney behind the former diner from 1961-1986. It was recently modified to be back lit. October 5, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Massachusetts outlet of 5 & Diner Chain closes

5-&-Diner-3a
The 5 & Diner in Lincoln Plaza, Worcester, Mass.
2007 photo by Larry Cultrera

Sorry to hear that the first and only Massachusetts location of the 5 & Diner chain has closed within the last 2 weeks. The diner was opened in 2006 at a location in Lincoln Plaza in Worcester by Bob & Laurie Watson, who ended up buying the whole chain within a couple of years of the opening from Ken Higginbotham. The 5 & Diner chain of restaurants were started in 1989 by Higginbotham in Phoenix, Arizona. I wrote about this chain after meeting with Bob & Laurie back in April, see….. https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/introducing-bob-laurie-watson-owners-of-5-diner-chain-of-restaurants/

A week ago I got a message from Barry Henley asking if I had heard about the closing of Lou-Roc’s Diner in Worcester. I told him I had not and got a message back from him saying he made a call to Lou-Roc’s and they answered the phone saying they were open for business. Well as the story continues, I got a call from my brother Rick who works for a company that supplies knives/cutlery to restaurants throughout the area and he heard from the driver who takes care of the route around central Massachusetts that the 5 & Diner closed.

I sent a message to my friend Shawn Fallon who was the General Manager at the 5 & Diner and he said things seemed to be going good… he received great marks in his 1-year review and within weeks was let go and a short time later the doors were closed. This news is not good especially this close to the holidays for Shawn who has a young family to support as well as  for all the other people who worked there.

It is always sad when a diner closes, be it a regular mom & pop family-run diner or an outlet of a national chain. I have even recently read articles mentioning that the Watson’s are still trying to expand the chain here on the east coast but I do recall Bob telling me that the Worcester location which was not highly visible from the street might not have been the best location.

The Famous Apple Tree Diner, a most unforgettable experience

Since my book “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” published by The History Press came out almost a year ago, it has done well enough to actually make it to a third printing. The publisher found me because of this blog and it has gone almost full circle to the point that I was recently asked to be a guest blogger on their History Press Blog. They had made a suggestion or two about which direction I should write this but I decided to go in a slightly different direction. I chose to tell the story of possibly one of the most memorable experiences I have had in my 32 plus years of diner hunting. The link to that blog post is here…… http://www.historypressblog.net/2012/08/28/classic-diners-of-massachusetts-author-recalls-world-famous-apple-tree-diner/

The History Press blog people added an introduction to this version and it was edited slightly. Also, one photo was dropped….  so I decided to post the blog the way I wrote it here in its entirety, blemishes and all………

The World Famous Apple Tree Diner

Last year I authored a book for The History Press entitled Classic Diners of Massachusetts which has become another chapter in my almost 32 year personal research project of documenting American diners with my photographs. Looking back there have been many interesting stories and moments to reflect on. All the people I have met and all the miles I have driven, not to mention the countless friendships that developed on the “diner trail”. I guess that is one of the reasons why I write my blog, Diner Hotline. It is a way to show off my hundreds if not thousands of photographs and tell a few stories and anecdotes as well.

The blog was started on October 31, 2007, but evolved from a long running column I penned for the Society for Commercial Archeology’s Journal magazine. I wrote that column (also called Diner Hotline) for 18 years before retiring it. A good friend, Brian Butko knew I wanted to move on and do something a little different and convinced me to start the blog. Well since that time, I truly feel that Diner Hotline is now the way I think it always should have been and I truly enjoy writing it as well as getting almost instantaneous feedback from a lot of my regular readers!

My interest in diners goes back to my childhood in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Later, I recall having some great times hanging out with my friends at Carroll’s Colonial Dining Car in the years following my graduation from high school in 1971. Situated in the downtown area of Medford, Mass. (my hometown), Carroll’s central location and 24 hour service was a huge draw, especially in the early morning hours after the clubs and bars closed. Between 1978 and 1980, I had been noticing a few newspaper articles and stories about a fairly new trend at that time of diners being moved from long-time business locations. One such example – the Englewood Diner in Dorchester (a section of Boston) was forced to move due to the property under the diner being sold. Another example, the owners of the Kitchenette Diner of nearby Cambridge retired and the diner was closed and subsequently moved, are two of the stories that I recall. There was also a feature story about diners written by Richard J.S. Gutman, then the co-author of the newly published American Diner book (Harper & Rowe). Gutman’s co-author of this book was Elliot Kaufman (and it was written in collaboration with David Slovic). This was the first comprehensive history ever published on the history of diners.  There was another news story featuring Alan Bellink and Donald Kaplan talking about their book Diners of the Northeast (The Berkshire Traveller Press), a guide to diners in New York, New Jersey and New England.

Along with these news articles there also was my own sense of recognizing that a lot of the diners I recalled seeing as a youngster in and around the greater Boston area seemed to be swiftly disappearing from the urban and suburban landscape. Around this time I had started a weekly ritual of taking short Sunday morning road trips with my buddy Steve Repucci, which usually started off at a local diner. This expanded into picking a different diner every week to determine which direction to take the morning excursion. I was just getting into 35mm photography and in the back of my mind I thought I might start photographing the diners I visited on these little trips. But I confess I was a little hesitant and self conscious about standing in front of a packed diner and shooting one or two photos. I finally broke the barrier after Steve Repucci moved to Harrisburg, PA. He moved there in Labor Day Weekend of 1980 and a little over two months later on November 29th, I shot one photo of the Bypass Diner (in Harrisburg). Since that date I have photographed over 820 diners.

After Steve moved to Harrisburg, I did not have my regular road trip companion on Sunday mornings anymore, at least for a year and a half. But I did continue to go to diners by myself or with my brother Rick, among other people. One of the diners high on my list to visit was the Apple Tree Diner of Dedham, Massachusetts. As a little background, the diner was built in 1929 by the Worcester Lunch Car Company as car number 641 for William F. Schroeder who operated it as Bill’s Diner. It continued to operate as Bill’s Diner after Schroeder sold it to William Cogan who ran it for 43 years according to Richard Gutman. It has not been determined when the diner acquired the “Apple Tree” name but we know it had it by the early 1970’s or so.


Top of Apple Tree Diner Guest Check)

Proclaimed as “The Famous Apple Tree Diner” by 1980, this was printed on their guest checks as well as the T-shirts they were selling at that time. This description was certainly one of the draws for me, how could I not check this place out? I had read about this diner in one or two of the news articles as well as my newly bought copy of Diners of the Northeast. It was early November as I recall, just prior to photographing the above mentioned Bypass Diner in Harrisburg, PA. I had made plans to drive down to Dedham from my home in Medford. I knew that the diner was located at 702 WashingtonSt. which was designated State Route 1A and that it was the continuation of the same Washington St. that started in downtown Boston.

So I basically decided to start my journey in Boston and drove all the way through the neighborhoods of the South End, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Roslindale on Washington St. before leaving the City of Boston. I was now in Dedham and knew the diner was south of the downtown area. Anticipation was very high and when I got to the point where Court Street comes into Washington St. from the right, I looked up ahead to the left and saw this bright red monitor-roofed Worcester diner sitting in the middle of a dirt parking lot surrounded by all forms of car and truck!

I was truly excited! Even after patronizing quite a few diners up to this point, this place was a completely unaltered piece of roadside Americana! I could tell already and I had not even stepped foot inside yet! I hurriedly parked my Chevy Van and literally ran from the parking lot and slid open the sliding door. The place was packed! There was one stool open right by the door…. I immediately sat down and soaked in the atmosphere of the bustling lunch car! I recall thinking…. this is the way a diner should be! Unbeknownst to me and probably a lot of other people, the diner would only be serving customers for another eight months or so.

The diner was being operated at that time by Warren Jones and his friend Joanne Dummeling as well as a very capable staff. In fact during that first visit, with all the rushing back and forth by the staff, it almost seemed like there were as many people working behind the counter as there were customers on the other side (there was probably only four people behind the counter). I subsequently ordered a cup of coffee and more than likely pancakes and bacon (my go-to breakfast at that time) and even with the diner being fully packed with customers, I can recall the food came to me fairly quick. The overall feeling of that first visit to the Apple Tree Diner was to me one of the purest diner experiences I can ever remember. In fact it might be safe to say that of the hundreds of diners I have visited since 1979, I have never experienced the same strong feeling that I did walking into the Apple Tree Diner on that Saturday in early November of 1980.

I finally shot my first two photos of the Apple Tree Diner on my second visit in January of 1981. That date and the date of my first visit unfortunately are somewhat lost to obscurity. You see I started my Diner Log book on July 28, 1981. After that date, whenever I documented a diner with photographs from then on, it got listed in the log. This meant first visits only, not subsequent later visits unless a particular diner was moved and reopened. Now I actually photographed over one hundred diners between Nov. 29, 1980 and July 28, 1981 and none of those hundred plus diners are logged properly with a specific date.


My first photo of the Apple Tree Diner, January, 1981)


My second photo of the Apple Tree Diner, January, 1981)

Back to the Apple Tree Diner….. It was during this second visit that I made the acquaintance of Warren Jones. Warren was two or three years older than I and we hit it off right from the start. He was very personable and friendly. I told him of my interest in diners and we conversed briefly as he was actually going into the house behind the diner for some supplies he needed, so he had to get back to work. I managed to get back to the diner again soon after that second visit for lunch, possibly the only non-breakfast visit I ever had there. Warren and I spoke a little more about my diner obsession and he mentioned knowing Dick Gutman. I informed Warren that I had come down that afternoon with the hopes of obtaining some contact info for Mr. Gutman and I asked him if he had a phone number so I could get in touch, Warren gladly wrote it out on a guest check for me. Soon thereafter I did phone Dick Gutman and introduced myself as a “Diner Freak” and as I recall he stated “join the club”! So it was on February 28, 1981 during my fourth visit to the Apple Tree Diner that I met Dick & Kellie Gutman for the first time.

I cannot recall how many times I got to the Apple Tree after that visit with Dick Gutman but I do know I was there on July 4th of that year. I had been raving to Steve Repucci about how he needed to check the place out the next time he was back to visit family and friends. So Steve had driven up from Pennsylvania for the long weekend and we went to the diner which was jammed as usual. It was all decked out in red, white & blue bunting with an American Flag hanging over the front door. Seeing the diner being so busy that weekend made it extremely hard to envision that by the end of that month the diner was closed and getting ready to be moved off the site!


My final photo of the Apple Tree Diner in operation, July 4, 1981)

You see, like a lot of older diners, the Apple Tree was operating on leased property and that the owner of the property sold the lot for development. The reason the diner got moved was that Warren Jones owned the building. He had put together a plan to sell shares in an attempt to help fund the relocation to another operating site. He found a pad site in a shopping center on Route 140 in Foxboro, Mass. and by the end of July, it was moved to Foxboro.


Apple Tree Diner, prepared to move – July, 1981


Apple Tree Diner leaving old site, July, 1981, That is Warren Jones
(back to the camera) in the red T-shirt.


Apple Tree Diner on the approach to I-95 from U.S.Rte. 1, July, 1981


Apple Tree Diner arriving in Foxboro, July, 1981

After the move to Foxboro, Warren then began the process of stripping years of paint from the body of the diner and removing all the roof shingles. He sand blasted the metal panels and primed and repainted it as well as installing a brand new roof covering. This was all in preparation for setting the diner on a new foundation. The next is a series of photos showing the stripping and repainting of the diner while still in Foxboro, photos circa 1981

Another part of his plan was possibly obtaining another old diner to include at the new site for expanded seating. Both diners would be placed at 90 degrees sitting in an “L” shape surrounding a new building with kitchen and restrooms. Unfortunately, the project lingered for a few months and never got close to being completed. Warren had to relinquish his claim to the pad site at the shopping center and soon had the diner moved to a storage site in nearby Mansfield.


Apple Tree Diner in Mansfield storage location, photo circa Dec., 1982

Warren was then looking at the possibility of obtaining a new site in Mansfield that was going to be located on a corner of the then new iteration of a re-routed Route 140. That plan also never came to fruition and eventually the Apple Tree Diner was moved to Paul J. Dias’ yard in Hanson, Mass. in 1985. Dias was an auctioneer who was contacted by Warren Jones’ parents (Richard and Ona) who now had control of the diner.


Apple Tree Diner at Paul Dias’s yard in Hanson, sometime between
1985 & 1988


Interior view of Apple Tree Diner at Paul Dias’s yard in Hanson, sometime
between 1985 & 1988

The Jones’ (with help from Dias), eventually sold the diner to Lawrence Shevick of Boston, in May of 1988 to be precise. Mr. Shevick did not keep the diner long as he resold it to Dave Waller also of Boston by November of that same year. Dave Waller had just started on his now long-time hobby of rescuing old neon signs at that point and the reason that he decided to buy the diner when Shevick told him about it was because of his grandfather, Jack Hines. Hines used to own and operate a similar Worcester Lunch Car known as the Flying Yankee Dining Car in Lynn, Mass. So after purchasing the diner, Waller had the structure relocated to some family property up in New Hampshire where he proceeded to have the diner repainted closer to the color scheme of his grandfather’s diner.

By 1992, Dave Waller and his new bride Lynn had purchased a building that would ultimately be their home as well as a home to the Apple Tree Dining Car (the new name given to the place by Waller). It was a unique idea because the building they bought was a former fire station that had been decommissioned. It was sitting unused and deteriorating after being damaged by a fire. The city still owned the property and was debating as to what they would do with the structure. Along came the Wallers with a proposal for the ultimate reuse of the damaged building. This turned out to be a win-win situation as the city got a reasonable purchase price for a property that they (the city) could now collect property tax on.

After the purchase, the Waller’s started to rehabilitate the building. The first thing they did was to rebuild the fire damaged roof and started to clean up the interior. It still was no where close to being ready for habitation, but was basically ready to move in their largest possession, the diner! So on November 10, 1992, Bryant Hill of O.B. Hill Trucking Co. and his capable crew installed the diner into its new home. To get the diner into the building, the “Apparatus” doorway on the left-front elevation of the structure had to be altered temporarily. This was accomplished by removing quite a lot of the brickwork on the left side of the entry enough to allow the diner to be inched in on low-profile rollers. What a sight it was to see! It took at least two or three hours to get the diner inside the building. When this was accomplished, the Waller’s then had to have the brickwork restored. From the outside, one would never know what was just inside the doorway. To this day that is where the Apple Tree Diner lives, ironically within two miles from where I was living in 1980 when I first drove down to Dedham to experience this diner for the first time.


Apple Tree Diner in Malden awaiting the installation into its new home,
November 10, 1992


Apple Tree Diner in Malden being installed into its new home, November 10, 1992


Apple Tree Diner in Malden being installed into its new home, November 10, 1992)

I remained good friends with Warren Jones from 1981 to the late 1980’s when. he and his family moved to North Carolina. I actually never saw him again after that point, but we did remain in touch until his untimely passing away within the last 6 years from cancer. I am glad I got to eat in the diner at least a few times in its final months in actual operation and I am also happy that it remains in good hands. At the very least we know that the diner is well protected, being inside a building and that it will remain so for some time to come.


Apple Tree Diner in Malden during a get together by SCA members in August, 1995


Apple Tree Diner in Malden during a get together by SCA members in August, 1995

Notes from the Hotline, November 30, 2011

Updates on Author Events for Classic Diners of Massachusetts


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

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

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

Next Author Event to be held at Booklovers’ Gourmet

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

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

List of places selling Classic Diners of Massachusetts

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

Baker Books – North Dartmouth, MA

Blanchard’s 101 Diner – Worcester, MA

Boulevard Diner – Worcester, MA

Charlie’s Diner – Spencer, MA

Deluxe Town Diner – Watertown, MA

Deluxe Station Diner – Newton Center,  MA

Don’s Diner – Plainville, MA

Front Street Book Shop – Scituate Harbor, MA

Johnson & Wales University Culinary Arts Museum – Providence, RI

Lynn Museum – Lynn, MA

Miss Adams Diner – Adams, MA

Owl Diner – Lowell, MA

Porter Square Books – Cambridge, MA

River’s Edge Card and Gift – Ipswich, MA

Salem Diner – Salem, MA

Shawmut Diner – New Bedford, MA

Tatnuck Bookseller – Westborough, MA

Tex Barry’s Coney Island Diner – Attleboro, MA

Toad Hall Bookstore – Rockport, MA

Zak’s – Manchester By The Sea,  MA

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

New blog by my friend Michael G. Stewart

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

SRO in Somerville, next up… North Dartmouth!

The Author Event at the Somerville Public Library was a success! It became a standing room only crowd! There were more than quite a few books sold.


Some of my family showed up in Somerville, left to right, my brother Don and his wife  Jane, my brother Steve, me and my brother Rick.
photo by Denise Cultrera

This was billed as the first “Meet, Mingle and Read” event at the Library and Library Director Maria Carpenter was very gracious and pleasant to work with. My new slide presentation was well received and there were quite a few members of the audience that participated in the question and answer part after the presentation. The library had some catered “diner-like” food for people to partake of (it was from the local “Sound Bites” restaurant, none of the 3 diners in Somerville could accomodate the request for food).

Some members of my family showed up for this including my brothers Steve, Rick and Don and Don’s wife Jane, as well as Denise’s cousin Maryann Bancroft and her husband Rick. Another old friend, Vinny Bordonaro stopped by as well as a former co-worker of mine Ed Lecaroz and his friend Beth. Old friend and owner of the Rosebud Diner, Bill Nichols was there along with David Hebb, one of my long-time diner roadtrip buddies as well as newer friends Glenn Wells and Mike Engle. Glenn and Mike get the long distance award for driving all the way from the Albany, NY area to attend! Many thanks to my wife Denise for all her help including the photos she shot. I think she is getting pretty good with the Nikon Cool Pix camera.


left to right, David Hebb, Mike Engle, Glenn Wells and myself.
photo by Denise Cultrera

This coming Saturday at 11:00 am, it is on to Baker Books in North Dartmouth, Mass. as well as a radio interview with New Bedford’s Shawmut Diner owner and local radio personality Phil Paleologos at 10:15 am on Tuesday, November 22 (WBSM-AM). Here is a link to the event page at Baker Books….
http://www.bakerbooks.net/events.asp

Diner Hotline marking 30 Years of documenting Diners!

I always consider the weekend of Thanksgiving, specifically the Saturday after the Holiday, the anniversary of when I tentatively shot my first 35mm photo of a Diner. The actual date is November 29th (this coming Monday) but who’s counting? Me of course! It seems almost unbelievable that 30 years has gone by since that gray Saturday in Harrisburg, PA. I was with my brother Rick and old friend Scott Drown and we were visiting Steve Repucci whom we had helped moved to H’Burg the previous Labor Day Weekend.

The three of us had driven down from Massachusetts the day before and as I recall, our route down took us out I-90 to I-86 (a few years later I-86 was to be absorbed by I-84 in MA & CT), then I-84 all the way out to Scranton, PA, where we headed south on I-81.

I also recall the highway was shrouded in the thickest fog I have ever driven through, between Scranton and Harrisburg! I am glad it was the middle of the day, still it was one of the scariest rides I have ever been on!

Anyway, I do not recall what we did that Friday after we got down to Harrisburg but I know the next morning we drove down the street from where Steve and his room-mate Ed Womer were residing to the Bypass Diner on Herr Street (Rte. 22 bypass) in Harrisburg for breakfast. After the meal we went outside and I took out the old 35mm Mamiya camera and shot a photo from the left front of the diner.


Bypass Diner, Harrisburg, PA – Nov. 29, 1980 photo by Larry Cultrera
The diner has been operating for many years as the American Dream Diner

That is my 1979 blue Chevy Van in the parking lot. I drove that 271,000 miles between April of 1979 and December of 1988 and needless to say, a huge portion of that mileage (and time) was spent hunting Diners!

Since that day I have shot probably into the thousands of photos of diners throughout the northeast states as far down as Virginia and Tennessee, (skipped the Carolinas) and been able to document at least one in Georgia (Marietta Diner, Marietta) and then down to Florida to shoot a few more. I’ve also documented diners as far west as Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. According to my database diner log I have documented 815 diners with negative, slide and digital photography.

I have met some interesting people in the last 30 years including Richard & Kellie Gutman, John Baeder, David Hebb, Brian Butko, Randy Garbin, Glenn Wells, Mike Engle and Beth Lennon. I also want to acknowledge Diner owners who have become close friends…. Bob Fennell of the Capitol Diner,  Lynn, Mass. and Bill Nichols of the Rosebud Diner, Somerville, Mass. and Phil Paleologos of the Shawmut Diner, New Bedford, Mass.

I cannot forget to include the late Warren Jones, former owner of the Apple Tree Diner of Deham, Mass. as well as the late Owen Abdalian, former owner of the Main Street Diner of Woburn, Mass. who each passed away way too early and hold a special place in my memories.

Most of all I also want to acknowledge my wonderful wife Denise, who puts up with me, the collection of memorabilia and the obsession! Hopefully, I will continue this quest and be able to document more diners, although the long road trips have dwindled to a very few as years have gone by, and I will continue my efforts of passing along info to you my faithful readers with this blog, Diner Hotline!

Disclaimer: to be clear, this is not the 30th anniversary of the creation of Diner Hotline, just the 30th anniversary of shooting my first Diner photograph, the beginning of my efforts to document the American Diner, which of course spawned the creation of Diner Hotline in 1988 – LAC

Notes from the Hotline, 11/21/2010

Diner 317 opens in Plaistow, NH


New sign for Diner 317, photo by Larry Cultrera

I got an email from the intrepid Bob Higgins on Thursday. He let me know that Diner 317 opened on Rte. 125 in Plaistow, NH. This was the location of Eggie’s Diner for many years. Eggie’s Diner (the business) moved to a new location in nearby Atkinson, NH earlier this year leaving the early 1950’s Mountain View diner empty. The new partnership of John Woods, his cousin Chris Woods and Justin Behling embarked upon a much needed sprucing up of the building which included completely gutting and then installing a new kitchen. In the diner proper they insisted on  keeping any original details that remained original, installing new lighting and custom made tables with benches!


Sunrise at Diner 317, photo by Larry Cultrera

Denise & I went for breakfast on Saturday morning and I was impressed with the cleanliness as well as the extensive menu. I had a great breakfast and Denise enjoyed the home-made biscuits (almost like dinner rolls) that came from John’s grandmother’s recipe.


Front view of Diner 317 showing the new handicap access ramp leading to the side entrance, photo by Larry Cultrera

Right now, their opening hours are 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday thru Friday. Also they are going to see how 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM hours work for Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well. This of course may change. Diner 317 is located at 127 Plaistow Road (Rte. 125) in Plaistow, NH.

Richard Gutman’s Slide lecture well attended

My brothers Steve and Rick and I attended Dick Gutman’s slide lecture yesterday at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Mass. (my sister-in-law Ann also popped in). It was as usual, well attended! The presentation was the latest in the Museum’s Lowell lecture Series and a coming home of sorts for Mr. Gutman who has assisted the Museum on a slew of different projects many times over the years as well as guest curated along with his wife Kellie two major exhibits there. The first being the landmark “American Diners Then & Now” (1995) and the second “Summer Camp” exhibit (2000).

Dick Gutman’s lecture was called “What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That’s for Sure”, but it could easily have been entitled “Dick Gutman and his Diner Adventures”. It sort of gave a loose account of his personal odyssey researching the history of diners as well as the many memorable characters he has met in his travels!

I was interested to run into 2 people at the lecture that had attended my own slide presentation in Easton this past July. I also met a long-time reader of Diner Hotline – Stefanie Klavens, who had contributed a major article entitled “Art of Movie Theaters” for the Fall, 2003 edition of the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journal Magazine. This magazine of course is where my own Diner Hotline column ran for 19 years. In fact that particular edition of my column featured “The Origin of Diner Hotline”!

Also attending was John Margarita of Gardner, Mass. who I had not seen in probably 15 years. John had made a video on Diners (that I appeared in) that became a thesis for a graduate degree he received from Cambridge College.

The biggest surprise for me came after the lecture when most of the audience had left. A young man came up to me and called me by name and introduced himself, he said Larry? I’m Mike from the Triangle Diner! I was floored! Mike Lessin who is in the process of completely restoring the Triangle Diner of Winchester, VA, had actually flown up to Boston just to attend the lecture!

We talked for a few minutes then I brought him over so he could meet Dick Gutman who was also amazed and delighted that Mike had made this extreme effort to attend.

New Links in my Blog Roll

Matt & Andrea Simmons’ Clash of the Palates blog

My good friend Matt Simmons and his wife Andrea just started an interesting blog that is appearing through Randy Garbin’s “Riding Shotgun” feature at Roadside  Online. Matt co-wrote with me my post entitled “The Story of the The Abandoned Luncheonette, AKA the Rosedale Diner” post (from August 14th). See…… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-story-of-the-the-abandoned-luncheonette-aka-the-rosedale-diner/.

Anyway, Matt and Andrea’s new blog is called “Clash of the Palates” and is basically a review of different restaurants that they check out and usually they each have opinions that differ, making for a point/counterpoint type of  review. Check it out at…..http://www.roadsideonline.com/clash-of-the-palates.

The Diner Project by Warren Green

I recently heard from Warren Green who told me he had also attended my recent slide presentation in July. He sent me a link to his new Website called “The Eclectic Light Company”. This website features his photographs but more important here, he has a page called “The Diner Project”. Check it out at….. http://www.eclecticlightcompany.com/Other/Statement-Diner-Project/14372321_wH8XH.

Theatre Historical Society website and readerboard

Karen Colizzi Noonan recently sent some sample copies of the Theatre Historical Society’s “Marquee” Magazine (Karen is the President of this organization). This was brought to my attention by Beth Lennon of Retro Roadmap http://retroroadmap.com/ who had made a mention in her blog about this and told her readers that for a limited time they could also get some free copies of this magazine as an introduction to this organization that has been around since 1969. So I took advantage of the offer.

Karen emailed me and said she had seen Diner Hotline and wanted to put a link to it on her readerboard. I of course said please do, and that I would reciprocate. So here are 2 links, one to the Website and one to the readerboard. check them out at…. http://www.historictheatres.org/
and…. http://theatrehistoricalsociety.wordpress.com/

Capitol Diner exterior improvements complete!

Bob Fennell of the Captiol Diner (Lynn, Mass.) every few years has to get his 1929 Brill diner repainted. This year was the year it needed to be done. The place was scraped down and some imperfections were corrected and the whole building was primed and then painted. This was all done by the end of August. The only thing that did not happen was the lettering on the outside walls were not repainted. He decided to have new vinyl “decal” type lettering made by the same sign company that used to paint the lettering.


Capitol Diner with primer paint, June 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Capitol Diner with new paint job and vinyl lettering
Photo November 21, 2010 by Larry Cultrera