Features

Happenings along the way -- in diners

... there is a resurgence -- and re-construction -- of well-used diners

from Don Norris

Earlier this summer, a group of super-seniors came across (of all things) a
diner. In Saugus, our neighbor just to the east of Melrose. Oh, boy, I
thought, I remember eating in umpteen diners when living in New Jersey, in
the thirties and forties. Of course, this was in New Jersey -- as I remember,
every town had its diner.

Well, diners seemed to have disappeared. Big full-service Restaurants
became popular over the years, and with the advent of those awful fast-
food dives, most diners went out of business.



Times are a-changing, again. While on a three-day mini-vacation earlier
this summer, my wife Lorry and I stumbled upon a beautiful moose-
annointed diner in Wakefield, New Hampshire. It was newish because it had
been re-built from a diner that had seen its better days in upstate New
York. And yes, the aging body was transported to New Hampshire,
resurrected, rebuilt, polished-up, re-newed -- and put back in business in
rural New Hampshire.

The statuesque moose was added for a local New Hampshire touch. Right
out front. Delightful.

The new diner was a highway feature -- that is, not in town, but out on
Route 16, some 70 miles north of Melrose -- in the sticks, so to speak. But
it was beautiful, landscaped and decorated, but almost lonely out on the
highway. It's advantage was that it provided our first view of Mount
Washington, that 6200-foot rock left over from primeval times, survivor of
several ice-ages.

We chatted with our waitress, who gave us a small clue to the diner's long
history -- it's former life in New York, it's construction in (who knows
where), and its resurrection and transportation a couple hundred miles to
Wakefield. It was spotless, undented, polished, neat, friendly, comfortable
-- and served a delightful breakfast at mid-afternoon.

But the Wakefield Diner wasn't the only new diner we came across that trip.
Two days later we happened to stop in Plymouth, New Hampshire, home of
the state university. The town is small, compact, and lovely when compared
to the helter-skelter of suburban Boston. It was right there in the square,
bright shiny, newly painted a bright yellow, and with street parking right
in front -- opposite the town park. Delightful!



It was called "The Fracher's diner", had a long menu -- but we ordered yet
another breakfast of bacon and eggs. We discovered that the Fracher's
diner served booz -- a state-ordered limited selection, and had a small
expanded dining room in the back. Food, service, atmosphere was the
equal to our Wakefield episode. We were thrilled with our second find.

A couple of days later we were staying at our youngest daughter's home in
Belmont, New Hampshire, which is right next to Tilton, and the Tilton
Diner. This place isn't as new as the Wakefield or Plymouth diners, for it
has been in business for several years. But it too was transported from
somewhere else to New Hampshire. Somebody said that it originated in
New Orleans, if you can believe that!

Since that time, we have seen several newspaper pieces on the renewal of
the trend. I guess the Saugus Diner -- although it just doesn't LOOK like a
diner, is a product of the new birth of diners across America. In the Globe (I
believe), there was an small article that some staff writers had visited some
three other new diners in New England.

All this brings on memories of the Bloomfield Diner, in the town where I
grew up, in New Jersey. My story just brings back many memories of diners
that we visited frequently, for in those days there was no such thing as a
'fast-food' place.

But I am glad to see the re-birth of diners, and urge folks to visit one soon.
Prices are reasonable, selection is good, and the food is, well, very good. It
will be a memorable occasion.


September 4, 2015


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