Archive for November, 2009

MSN.com recently posted a list of 15 diners that we should not hit the road without checking out. While not all of them are 100% Retro Roadmap worthy diners, it’s an interesting list. What is most interesting to me is that I’ve only been to 2 of the diners!

Sunny Day Diner – Lincoln, New Hampshire – I have eaten here a couple of times because it is just down the road from the wonderfully retro Indian Head Resort (with little cabin court rooms) that I hope to be able to revisit and feature on Retro Roadmap soon. Sandwiched between this great litte diner and the resort is the throwback Clark’s Trading Post, featuring trained bears and more. If there was ever a trifecta of Retro Roadmap vintage vacation goodness, I think this stretch of Route 3 in New Hampshire definitely is on the top of that list.

Boulevard Diner – Worcester, Massachusetts – I know I’ve eaten at the Boulevard Diner, but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything specific about it. I do know that its late night hours have it on my list of places to swing by again when we’re heading towards my sister’s place, but this past weekend traffic was so ridiculous that we ended up bailing on that idea and eating at a nice but totally renovated diner off the Merritt Parkway. Must remedy this soon.

How many of these “diners” have you been to? Would you consider them Retro Roadmap worthy? Let me know!

Here’s a link to the list of MSN  Diners Club Top Diners

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Retro Roadsis and I had passed by Nick’s Nest in Holyoke on the way to the Mass Pike a couple of weeks ago (when I was able to snap this photo of their fab neon) but with it’s hot dog centric menu I knew it was a place to bring the Retro Roadhusband.

Nick's Nest Holyoke MA

Nick’s began as a simple popcorn pushcart in 1921 owned by Nick Malfas, and the business has been in this location since 1948. Story goes that Nick’s wife dubbed it a “nest” because it was so small. But what a totally adorable place this is! Diminutive and authentically charming, I was hooked from the moment we pulled up.

The Nest Of Delicious

The menu is limited to hot dogs and beans, with a few other sides to choose from. We got a couple of dogs which are specially made for Nicks and  and of course we had to check out the home baked beans. Our dogs were served on New England style rolls (or as RRH sometimes calls them, “folded bread”) and were easily devoured.
Nick's Nest Hot Dogs and Beans
I will be truthful here and say that both RRH and I found the famous beans to be pretty lame, but maybe it’s because I’ve moved away from the B&M style baked bean that my father insists upon. I know, sacrelige! There wasn’t anything horrible about the beans, they were just bland. Luckily for Nick’s the decor and dogs totally made up for the bland beans.
Nick's Nest Counter Seats

A small space with a handful of stools at the counter that looks out onto the busy street, you definitely get that “stepping back in time” feeling here that I love so much. One thing that floored me was seeing the girl behind the counter pulling on a large wooden handle attached to a rope, hanging just above the serving counter. This was their way of opening the door for customers that were leaving with their hands full of food. How cool!

Nick's Nest Counter and Door Pull(that’s the handle right there in the photo)

The nice girl behind the counter let us know that Nick’s had been under new ownership within the last 4 years or so and the new owners had spruced up the place, bringing back its original charm. Yay!

When I oohed and aahhed at all the vintage decor, she explained that although the Wurlitzer juke boxes at the counters did not work, when they did work the band box would move in time to the music. She then pulled another rope and VOILA the curtain opened on an old time band located just above our seats. Both RRH and I were smitten!

(Be glad you can’t hear the background music- it was Meatloaf!)

Much like Donut Dip, Nick’s is an easy exit off the Mass Turnpike and Route 91. If you go there when it gets dark you can’t miss the wondeful neon sign!


Nick’s Nest
1597 Northampton St
Holyoke, MA 01040-1931
(413) 532-5229

Nicks Nest on Urbanspoon

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At work this week some kind soul brought in a box of donuts from one of the local shops. Now I love the fact that these donuts are not from a national chain, and of course I could not help myself from eating one (OK, well maybe two) but they pale in comparison to the donuts we got at the Donut Dip in West Springfield MA.

Donut Dip West Springfield MA Neon

Opened in 1957 and owned and operated by the Shields family, Donut Dip is an easy peasy detour off of the Mass Pike or Route 91. I had seen the Donut Dip en route to the Big E Eastern States Exposition, but the last thing you do on the way to the “Big Eat” is stop for food. This time I made a plan not only to go there and have a donut, but get there at a time of day where the pink vintage neon sign would be aglow, just waiting for a photo. So glad we waited!

Walking into the brightly lit shop, one of the counter girls was refilling the tray with cider donuts, sanded with cinnamon sugar goodness.

Donut Dip West Springfield MA SpiceyI didn’t think that donuts would be a hot commodity at 5pm on a Sunday night, but people were coming and going, ordering a dozen here and there, which gave us time to absorb the smells and sights in this vintage donut shop.

Donut Dip West Springfield MA Traveling? Finest! (I love how they still have the same signs above the counters, like in the black and white photo below!)
Donut Dip West Springfield MA History

While we had just eaten a short while ago, we “set our stomachs to Donut” and ordered a couple to test out. It was hard to choose! Taking a page from the Diner Hotline book of Road Eating I decided to see what their honey dipped donut was like, and BOY was I glad I made that choice. The donut was light and airy, with sweet sugary glaze on all sides.

While we wolfed down our donuts  while sitting in the car (that’s the top of the Retro Roadmobile reflecting the sign in the neon shot above) I could not help but glance at the storefront and remember those delicious cinnamon sugar laden apple cider donuts that I saw just a few moments before. Rationalizing that I would not be in the area any time soon, I ran in and got another “for the road”. Who am I kidding? I think it was done before we left Route 5.

If you take a close look at the bag your donuts in, you may spy a bit of Shakespeare, who I never knew was  a donut  fan:

“What Food These Morsels Be!”

They be delicious Donut Dip donuts!

Donut Dip
1305 Riverdale St (Route 5)
West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 733-9604

Donut Dip on Urbanspoon

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It’s funny how some things end up on the Retro Roadmap and the Holyoke Merry Go Round is a perfect example.
Holyoke Merry Go Round Horse
Retro Roadhusband and  I had just eaten at Nick’s Nest and were waiting for the sun to set so we could get a picture of the glorious neon of Donut Dip (and also waiting to find a donut shaped space in our bellies after the hot dogs at Nick’s -!) As we drove around I suddenly had a vision a kitchen magnet that I had on my fridge in my apartment in Medford, MA and remembered that there might be a vintage carousel in the area. Through the modern power of cell phone internet and map technology, we were able to have a lovely visit to this historic carousel in downtown Holyoke MA.

Holyoke Merry Go Round House

Built between 1927-1929 the merry go round was part of Mountain Park amusement park that was in business on Mount Tom from 1894 – 1987. Manufactured by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company,  it is the 5th to last merry go round the company ever made, PTC # 80. When Mountain Park closed in 1987 a non-profit group was created in order to save the carousel from being sold piece by piece. The group successfully managed to keep the carousel in Holyoke and it is now the centerpiece of Holyoke’s Heritage State Park. The merry-go-round now has a John T. Hickey Preservation Fund, named after one of the originating members of the group (my mother’s maiden name is Hickey, I wonder if we’re related?)

We were glad to see that the carousel was in full swing as we walked into the roundhouse, with kids waving to their parents ( “Hi Daddy!”) parents taking pictures of their kids and folks setting up for a birthday party right next to the carousel. Open year ’round, the rides are a bargain at $1 a piece, making it an affordable destination for all- why don’t you stop by and give it a whirl!

Holyoke Merry Go Round
221 Appleton St
Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 538-9838

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In a staid small town in New England the brightly colored geometric designs of the 1950’s stand out like a vibrant diamond when surrounded by the brick and weathered clapboard shops that are so popular in the region. Such is my memory of the Lewandos cleaners sign, one of my very favorite sights in my hometown of Needham, MA.

As I drove toward downtown Needham it felt like the streets had gotten smaller and the houses had gotten bigger. As I passed the fenced lot where the Needham Cinema used to stand,  I was hoping that Lewandos was still around. The town has changed a lot since I grew up there, and since there is another dry cleaners just across the street, I was afraid to find that Lewandos had succumbed to the development trends in town and become a cafe or boutique. How glad I was to find that not only were they still there, but the sign that I remembered so well was still there.


Established in 1829 Lewandos is family owned and operated and rated highly among the folks who have gotten their clothes done there. Conveniently located near the commuter train station, I can imagine it’s a hit with the Boston bound set. If you live in the area, why not drop off a garment or three and let them know how much you dig the sign? You never know when they may be convinced that it is outmoded and should be replaced by a carved wooden sign with gilt letters!

Another thing I always found absolutely charming about Lewandos is their logo. It used to be painted on the side of the building, but is still in evidence on their bags. It shows a cat, who would normally be happy to devour little birdie chicks, instead cleaning them gently and hanging them up carefully by their wings to dry on the line. If that image doesn’t warm your heart I don’t know what will!

Lewados Logo Needham MA

When growing up in a place where clapboard, weathered shingles and brick are the most popular building materials, the Lewandos sign always let me know that there were other things out there besides New England Colonial. Hooray for Lewandos holding it’s own, and representing another design point of view in my small Massachusetts home town.

53 Chapel St
Needham, MA 02492
(781) 444-1653

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I’ll be blogging lots more this long weekend as I’ve got so much fun stuff to share, but in the spirit of the day, I want to take a minute out to say thanks to all of you, my Retro Roadmap Readers.

Thanks to everyone who has visited my website / blog since I started it just this past May.

Thank you for your encouraging comments, your suggestions, your submissions.

Thanks for letting me know that you are digging what I am doing, as that encouragement, and thought that I’m  making a difference is what keep me going.

Thank you for telling other folks about Retro Roadmap and getting the word out.

I truly appreciate each and every visitor, browser and commenter here on Retro Roadmap, I really do.

I  hope my mission of making it easy to find some of the cool old places around has allowed you to go to a neat old place you might not have known about, or made you take a new look at some of the old place you’ve passed by for years.

I’m a lucky gal, I’ve got my health, and my family, good friends, a wonderful husband and dog, and finally with Retro Roadmap I get a legitimate excuse to visit and revisit some great mom and pop places both near and far.

Enjoy your Turkey Day and I’ll catch up with you all on “Don’t buy anything but blog a lot” Friday!




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Since 1945 Bowlmor Lanes has been open for duckpin bowling on the main strip of Route 6 in Mattapoisett, MA. New England is known for its candlepin bowling with duckpin being an even more rare breed, with only 50- 60 duckpin lanes open across the entire country. Bowlmor is one of just 4 in Mass to offer this bowling.
Bowlmor Lanes

I have been wanting to check out this bowling alley since forever ago when I worked down the street in North Dartmouth. Since the Bowlmor is attached to Chinese restaurant Cathay Temple I always thought how cool it would be to own both of them and rename the place “The Scorpion Bowl”. It didn’t hurt that both places had out of place aqua paint job with bright red trim- funkily standing out against the weathered clapboards in this waterside town. Alas the place has been greyed up since then, but I was just thankful it was still open at all! Work was being done on the Temple so I’m glad both places never turned into a national drug store outlet, as was rumored might happen years ago.

Nothing Quite As Weird as a Quiet Bowling Alley

When we walked into the building it was like we stepped back in time. Not only because the place itself is so wonderfully old fashioned, with its wooden floors and benches, but because the lights were mostly off, and no one had started bowling yet, so it was eerily quiet. To make the sight even more like we stepped into another dimension, there was a glow coming from the end of one of the darkened lanes. It was just someone (owner Neil Macedo perhaps?) fixing one of the original mechanisms, but think about it- when is the last time you were in a quiet bowling alley? Once we got our shoes and folks started filtering in for the birthday party that was happening the lights were turned on, balls began to spin, pins began to fall down, and sure enough the familiar bowling alley cacophony began.

I got a quick lesson on the differences between duckpin and candlepin from the young fellow behind the counter (and sorry laddie but though it may seem like it to you, this place isn’t over 100 years old, yet!). Main differences in duckpin is that the balls are lighter than candlepins and – as the sign says below:

Deadwood Must Be Cleared

Yes, all “deadwood” or knocked down pins, need to be cleared between each roll of the ball, and there’s a special foot pedal that you press that accomplishes such a feat – with your feet!


There’s another button that you press when your string is over, that clears away the deadwood and resets the pins for the next player. The Retro Roadkids had great fun with both mechanisms. I admit to being a bit smitten with the old fashioned technology myself!

The one thing that I remember from bowling as a kid that I was glad to see was the old fashioned method of scorekeeping with a pencil and a tally sheet. We used to amuse ourselves drawing mustaches on  and otherwise “improving” the advertisements that surrounded the score box. The  Retro Roadkids had fun practicing their letters and numbers, and it was nice to think that they were learning to count, instead of having a computer do it for them.

Old Fashioned Scoring

Everything in this place was old fashioned and I loved it. The Retro Roadkids had a great time, I took gobs of photos, and I was glad to see the place fill right up within the short time that we were there. I’ve read that they mainly do league bowling during the week – and think it’s so cool that many of the oldsters in the area are still active in this way.

I Hope I Become a Jolly Senior

If you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time check out this place the next time you’re in the New Bedford area. And if you’re interested in trying duckpin bowling, check this link out to see if there’s duckpin bowling near you!

Bowlmor Lanes
22 County Rd
Mattapoisett, MA 02739
(508) 758-6783

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