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

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Mike & Kim Pinto on the “Diner Trail”. June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I was checking out Facebook this past weekend and found a post from the Point Diner (AKA the Somers Point Diner)  of Somers Point, NJ. They basically posted a link to a new blog I had never heard of. It was called “Diner Diaries”. Written by Kim Pinto, the blog is primarily an extension of a journal that Kim is keeping for an interesting road trip she and her husband Mike have embarked on, the link for the blog is  http://pintodiner.com. Both Kim and Mike are eduacators, Mike as a school principal and Kim teaches a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class. I read a couple of her posts on the blog and decided to get in touch with her, primarily to let her know that she is not alone in her journey and that those of us who preceded her on the “Diner Trail” can understand her quest.

Within a short period of time, I got a reply to my email and it was a very nice message to say the least…..
Hi Larry! What a completely humble moment to be contacted by you, thank you.  My second and third graders have poured over your book (Classic Diners of Massachusetts) as we planned this trip and I can’t wait to share that you sent me a note.  Our goal is to trek to Massachusetts in four days, after a stint in NYC. Your book is in my bag. This has been an incredible journey and I want to thank you for being a part of it.  I am sincerely amazed that you have photographed so many diners and have provided the world with your findings.  You sir are a difference maker.  How fun that your wife is a retired teacher.  Please tell her hello from me! Thank you again Larry for extending such kind words.  I am so very bummed I didn’t get to sit and break bread in the American Dream diner…it is so interesting that you photographed that diner from the start. Have a wonderful day!  Kim

I was certainly surprised and delighted that she has my book for a reference. As she mentioned, they were on their way to New York City and that they would be heading to Massachusetts toward mid-week. I suggested we try to get together, which she thought was a great idea. I then decided to do this post and asked her for some info about the blog/trip and this is what Kim said….

I am from West Lafayette, Indiana.  This is a $10,000 teacher creativity grant.  It is meant to rejuvenate you.  I chose to visit diners because my room is themed as a diner.  Our entire school has themed classrooms.  I was asked to select a theme that is comfortable.  My Grandmother taught me very early by example.  She was a lady with little means so eating out meant going to one of two little diners in my town.  The conversations we had were like no other while sharing a comfortable lunch together. I try to duplicate this experience in my classroom.  I thought what would be better than to go to where it all began, the east coast. In May I found out I have breast cancer, so this trip now has another meaning for me.  My son, Alex, is also along to shoot a documentary of the trip as well.  He just graduated from Columbia in Chicago in film/directing.  He will be moving to LA in August, so having him along is special. The grant pays for the whole trip, from food-self publishing a book at the end.  The idea is this is a trip of a lifetime and it is beyond that at this point…I am having the time of my life! Thank you again for taking an interest in an elementary teacher from Indiana.  My 2nd and 3rd graders will be very excited.  Also thank you for writing about me on the Diner Hotline…another kind moment. In the end I simply hope to soak this all in and put forth a book about my travels and the wonderful diners/friends I have met along the way. My two journeys will not end at the close of this trip, I think they are really just beginning.
Well, we managed to get together late on Thursday afternoon. Because there are not too many diners in this area open for dinner and the fact that they were coming up from Worcester, Mass., I instructed them to take I-290 east and I-495 north to Salisbury. Then to take I-95 south to Rte. 133 and the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. This allowed them to avoid any rush-hour traffic in the Boston area by completely bypassing the city. They got there before Denise and I did so they made their presence known to Ethel DePasquale, a member of the Galanis family who own and operate the diner. We joined them within a short time and Ethel was understanding about us wanting to talk for a bit before taking our food order. When we finally decided to order, both Kim and Mike got a dinner entree while Denise was not particularly hungry (she settled for the glass of water she was drinking), I opted for a piece of the Agawam’s famous Coconut Cream pie. I very rarely get to the Agawam for anything other than breakfast and it has been years since I had their pie. It was even better than I remembered! Oh, Man!!!!! Mike, on my recommendation decided on the Native Fried Clam Roll (which they do not even have out in Indiana). This in fact was something he was totally unfamiliar with, along with a Scallop Roll or a Fried Shrimp Roll. They do not even have “Whole Clams” out there, just frozen clam strips! Kim decided on a Fried Fish sandwich. Mike has been documenting his food this trip and if anyone is curious you can see some of these on his blog….. http://coleprincipal.tumblr.com.

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Yours truly and Kim Pinto outside the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
Me, Kim & Mike outside the Agawam Diner
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
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Mike, Kim & Denise at the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I feel that Denise and I made new, life-long friends in Kim and Mike. I wish them happy travels until they get back home. I also wish Kim well with her fight against breast cancer!

Another look back to the early 1980’s

I recently bought a new scanner to replace the one I had for almost 10 years. I was not happy with the results I was getting from the old one, especially when scanning slides. The new one seemed to be much better and the software was more advanced, which I certainly liked.

This past weekend I felt moved to scan an image from a negative as I had not tried this with the new scanner yet. When thinking of an image to scan I immediately thought of a photo I shot on Dec. 25, 1982 of the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. It is without a doubt one of the better shots I have ever taken of that diner. I took the shot on Christmas because it is the only day during the year that the diner is closed and I could get a nice clean shot without cars being parked in front!

I wanted to scan this image as I did not have a print of it anymore. In fact I gave the one and only print I had to a producer from the short-lived Connie Chung Show (circa June, 1990). They were doing a show (or a segment of a show) on “Diners”. He had contacted me when he was researching the subject and utillized me as a sort of guide. Basically I brought him around to a whole slew of diners from Boston all the way to Northampton, Mass. and various places in between. They actually did some filming at the Agawam Diner (hence the reason he asked for a photo) where I was interviewed on camera. Unfortunately this show never aired.

So last Saturday, I checked my Diner Log database to find where I had the negative stored and got my hands on it in about a minute.  I brought out the adapter for 35mm negatives for the scanner and placed the negative in it. I checked the settings on this when the software turned on and found they were set up like I have it for slide scanning, so I went with it! Well I was pleasantly surprised to see the image come out exactly the way I remembered it! Check this out…..


Agawam Diner, Rowley, Mass. Dec. 25, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

Since I scanned that, I was in the mood for scanning some other photos from that period as a trip back in time. All these other scans came from prints and some were cropped while most of them were enhanced slightly. Here they are in no particular order….

Lido Diner – Route. 22, Spingfield, NJ


Lido Diner, photo Nov. 29, 1981 by Larry Cultrera


Lido Diner, photo Nov. 29, 1981 by Larry Cultrera

The Lido Diner was a large 1960 vintage Paramount Diner. Back in 1987, I had the opportunity to stay at the Colonial Motel down the street one weekend and took at least 2 meals at this diner. I recall they had their own bakery and served freshly baked bread. Man that was good! I did a Bing street map search recently and it seems there is a 7-11 Store on that site now.

Shirl’s Cozy Diner – Champlain Avenue, Ticonderoga, NY


Shirl’s Cozy Diner, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Shirl’s Cozy Diner, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Shirl’s was built on site (not factory-built) and was fairly small. It did not make it into the 1990’s. The lot is now used for parking for the Sunoco Station next door.

Henry’s Diner – Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Mass.


Henry’s Diner, circa March, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Henry’s Diner, circa March, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Henry’s Diner was another on-site built diner, in fact I believe it was almost triangular in shape to conform to the corner it sat on. According to my notes it was torn down by 1992. I also recall it had operated under the name of Steve’s Diner earlier. I believe I had breakfast with my dad here a couple of times in the late 60’s.

Colonial Kitchen – U.S. Route 11, Liverpool, PA


Colonial Kitchen, the former Lesher’s Diner.
Aug. 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Colonial Kitchen, the former Lesher’s Diner.
Aug. 8, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Colonial Kitchen, as it was called when I photographed it was formerly Lesher’s Diner, this info is from a postcard I have in my collection. It was a 1940 vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner which according to my notes was replaced entirely by another building by the mid-1980’s.

Ted’s Diner – Route 28, Londonderry, NH


Ted’s Diner circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Ted’s Diner circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

I don’t know much about this place but I do recall seeing this in the mid-to-late 1960’s. It was actually just off exit 5 of I-93 and was visible from the highway. I do not know if this is built on-site or a completely redone factory-built place. It was torn down by the mid-1980’s and replaced with another building that currently houses Poor Boy’s Restaurant and Deli. When getting this post together I realized this diner did not make it into the Diner Log database and had to search the negative file to complete my info for this.

Burlington Diner – Route 130, Burlington, NJ


Burlington Diner, May 31, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


Burlington Diner, May 31, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

The Burlington Diner looks like one very long building when in actuality, it is 2 diners grafted end to end. The section on the left is the original diner which is a barrel roof DeRaffele diner from the early 30’s. The right hand section was a newer DeRaffele that they grafted on and then changed the facade to look more modern as well as unified. The pylon and flared roof section on the extreme right was added, probably in the 1960’s. I do not know if it is operating currently but the building is still there and a google street map search shows it as Amy’s Omlette House, Burlington Diner.

Sam’s Lunch – 82 Lafayette Street, Salem, Mass.


Sam’s Lunch, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Sam’s Lunch, circa 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

Sam’s Lunch was built by Teirney Diners and was reported to still have wheels attached to it. I never got to go inside but managed to shoot these two photos as well as one slightly later shot before it was torn down. It disappeared by the mid-1980’s.