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

The story of how I drove into an old postcard

Back in the early 1980’s, February of 1982 to be exact, I first had contact with John  Baeder. As many people know, John Baeder is considered along with Richard J.S. Gutman one of the founding fathers of this diner appreciation movement that dates to the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. Of course their respective books Diners (Baeder, 1978) and American Diner (Gutman, Kaufman, Slovic, 1979) helped lead the way for the rest of us.

I had already become friendly with Richard Gutman in early 1981 and it was not quite a year later that I finally got up the nerve to contact John. As I recall it was probably within a month or so of my dad’s passing away suddenly at the young age of 59. John & I talked (in that first phone call) for a while and started corresponding as well. He sent postcards of some of his prints as well as black & white xerox copies of some of his diner postcard collection. These copies usually were 8.5″ x 11″ sheets containing at least 6 postcard images.

One of the packages I received had about 3 of these letter size copies stapled together and had an image that depicted a street scene. The scene was entitled… Fort Dix Road, Wrightstown, NJ. In the scene the photographer was standing on the east side of the street looking across the street and back to the left. In the foreground of the shot was the Victory Diner, looking to be a late 1940’s to early 1950’s Master Diner. The diner was situated end-wise to the street with a parking lot in front. To the left of the diner was a business block housing 2 or 3 other establishments and toward the end of the block a neon sign was visible that said “Town Diner”. Beyond these businesses a small stone bridge spanned a waterway and the road sort of swung to the right, out of the photo.

Fort-Dix-Rd
postcard image from John Baeder collection

In reading John’s book (Diners) I recall him mentioning about doing a painting from an old postcard image of a street scene. How he had a fantasy of going into the image and say, walk down the street and maybe go into one of the stores or buildings in the scene. Well I had an experience that came close to what John had fantasized about. I should also mention that both John and I have talked about our shared belief in a sort of sixth sense.

Back in June of 1983, I attended the Society for Commercial Archeology’s meeting at Wildwood, NJ. I started the drive down on Thursday evening June 23, 1983 and got as far as a rest area on I-684, just north of White Plains, NY where I slept in my van for a few hours. The next morning I had breakfast at the Star Diner, a 1950 vintage Silk City diner in White Plains. Another highlight of that morning was visiting the Kullman Diner Company factory, then located in Avenel, NJ before proceeding down to the Wildwood area.

wildwood-cover-outside
Souvenir booklet from the SCA Wildwood meeting 6-25-83

On the 25th, I visited most of the diners in the Wildwood area and walked a little of the boardwalk before meeting up with the other attendees of the SCA meeting at the Wildwood Diner. When the initial meeting festivities were concluded, I decided to start the drive back, opting not to participate in the scavenger hunt they had planned.

By this time it was probably just past 2:00 pm and I started driving north. I went as far as Atlantic City, where I photographed the Columbus Diner and started to head west on Rte. 30. As I recall, I travelled Rte. 30 as far as Pomona, NJ, where I photographed the South China Restaurant, a stainless steel Jerry O’Mahony diner. This was on a side road just off Rte. 30. I decided to continue north on this road, I believe it was unmarked (no route number). I should probably mention that I had decided I would rely on my sense of direction and not use any roadmaps for this particular roadtrip thus having a heightened sense of adventure and discovery.

So, I drove for many miles into and through what I realized was the middle of the Pine Barrens. I started to get nervous as this area was sparsely settled with hardly any roadside businesses and I was getting extremely low on gasoline. I started talking to the van saying we could make it to the next town to get gas. I had no idea where I was, and in fact found out as most people do who drive through New Jersey, there are few signs telling you what particular town you are in, at any given time. Well finally I was approaching civilization, more and more houses and such were appearing along the road.

Then something strange happened, I started getting a feeling that I was approaching the town that I remembered from that postcard image that John Baeder had sent me previously. I don’t know why but it popped into my head and the feeling was extremely strong! Wouldn’t you know, the road went around a curve to the left and I crossed a stone bridge into a town. I was amazed! It WAS the same town as in the postcard! I pulled over to the side and looked and there it was, the former Victory Diner now called the Super Diner. It had gained a stucco facade under the windows and the parking lot in front of it was now a lawn. It also appeared to be not in operation.

Super-Diner-1-Wrightstown,NJ
Super Diner, Wrightstown, NJ

Super-Diner-2-Wrightstown,NJ
Super Diner, Wrightstown, NJ

This was one of the more interesting things that had ever happened to me on the road, in fact I do not believe any other experience comes close. After taking my photos of the diner I went down the street and got gas for the van. Then I continued on to the Mount Holly area and had dinner at the Crossroads Diner a late model brick Fodero diner with mansard roof. The rest of the trip consisted of staying at a motel adjacent to the Premium Diner on U.S. Rte. 1 in Avenel. I believe the next morning I had breakfast at the Avenel Diner up the road and drove home through New York and Connecticut arriving home in Medford, Mass. in the middle to late afternoon. What a trip!