Archive for January, 2010

Hey gang- heading up to see the fam this weekend and hoping to catch some Retro Roadmap fun along the way.

Massachusetts Postcard

what are your fave Retro Roadmap worthy stops along the way? I’ll be on the Jersey Turnpike, then either 95 or the parkways to 91/84/ 90!

Boston if you please, Massachusetts!

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What a whirlwind of a week it has been so far- with trips to Sellersville, PA, New York City and on Friday heading back up to Beantown to visit the Retro Roadfamily. I don’t have time at the moment to do justice to the fun we had candlepin bowling at the Wakefield Bowladrome in Wakefield MA (owned by the same family since 1957, and on the site of an older bowling alley that burned down) but wanted to share a few pictures with you, including the COOLEST RESTROOM SIGNS EVER!

Wakefield Bowladrome


click here to see the coolest rest room signs ever!

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Spying McGillin’s Olde Ale House tucked away on a narrow alley just off the main streets in Center City is like catching a 3D glimpse into Philadelphia’s historic past. The only business on this teeny strip of road between massive high rise buildings and just 2 blocks from City Hall, the warm glow from their vintage looking neon sign beckoned us to step back in time on a chilly December evening.

Down The Alley

I didn’t know what to expect from the Oldest Continually Operating Pub in Philadelphia (150 years, this year!) and was crossing my fingers that the place had retained some of its authentic charm and not succumbed to the faux historical look popular with businesses in touristy areas, or turned into a sporty frat bar.

McGillan's Neon SignWhen we saw the care that was taken with their neon sign ( only 7 years old but an exact replica of their original sign- see below about that) and the cheery holiday decorations we hoped for the best, opened the narrow swinging doors, and ventured inside.

THEN what happened? Click through to find out!

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Even though the Wanamaker’s Department Store building in downtown Philadelphia PA has been taken over by Macy’s, if you look closely you can still see signs that this place used to be the grande dame of department stores in her day. Here are a few snapshots of some of the retail archeological finds I saw on our quick trip into Center City before Christmas.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/The_Grand_Court.jpg/397px-The_Grand_Court.jpg(I’ve actually never seen the organ without it being obscured by the giant Christmas Tree, but here’s a shot to show you how cool and old fashioned it is (thanks to Wikipedia for the use of this image))

As a quick refresher, Wanamaker’s was the first department store in Philadelphia and one of the first department stores in the country. The current building harkens from 1910 and originally had 9 of its 12 floors designated for retail. Now only a handful of them are shopping destinations, but the building still houses the fabulous Wanamaker Organ, which gives a hint to the fabulosity that the store once had.

When you’re walking in through some of the vestibules off of the street you can still see the intricate mosaic work and the stylized JW signature emblazoned in the center.

The fluorescent lighting and my photos don’t do them justice, but the colors are just wonderful in a very art nouveau palette.

click here to see more photos!

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The theme of our short retro road trip to Bordentown New Jersey is signs, signs, everywhere, signs! Vintage motel signs, old neon signs, retro roadside signs, you name it, it’s probably in this post about a little section of Route 130 just south of Trenton, NJ!

These places are located in historic downtown Bordentown, NJ:

The building (which used to be a bowling alley) the facade (looks like Miami Deco) and Neon sign may not be vintage at The Record Collector, but a huge collection of vintage vinyl ( records, 45’s, LPs) awaits inside!

record-collector-bordentown-nj-flickr4jazz(Thanks to flickr4jazz on Flickr for the use of this photo = check out his great flickr set of some rarely seen interior shots of this cool music store!)

click here to see more neon, motel signs n more!

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(Update! 9/8/10 — just got word from the owner of the Neptune that the diner is not for sale, phew! Please continue to put this vintage diner on your retro itinerary when you visit Lancaster!)

Retro Roadhusband and I had a tasty meal at the Neptune Diner in Lancaster PA before Christmas, but I wasn’t happy with the few photos I snapped, so I didn’t write about it at the time. Now I hear the diner is for sale, so I figured I’d get it on the Retro Roadmap before something unfortunate happens to it!

Neptune Diner Entryway

Neptune Diner Sign

According to The Diner Hunter this is a 1951 Mountain View diner with cowcatcher corners- check out his photos of the Neptune diner here,. It is a great classic stainless steel diner – visit it if you’re in the area, as its future is uncertain ( so much so that I can’t even get their website to work – yikes!)

Neptune Diner
924 North Prince Street
Lancaster, PA 17603
(717) 399-8358

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Reading about this on my lunch break has got me all excited anticipating” Ohana 2010 – The Luau at The Lake” in  Lake George NY – it promises to bring a fun weekend of  tiki lifestyle and fashion to the New York Lakes region!

According to the website:

This Years OHANA Luau at the Lake is jam packed with fun events.

The amazing Luau by the Pearls of Paradise performers will move OUTSIDE under the summer stars. Guests will be treated to a traditional polynesian pig roast luau and be entertained by lovely wahines and fire dancers!

On Thursday evening (the night before the OHANA ticketed event will be PROM NIGHT. Thats right, press your 70’s and 80’s prom outfits and prepare for an amazing night of Love, Romance and dancing in Club Whispers – The Tiki Motor Inns Disco Club, that has remained untouched from the Disco Dance era!

I’ll beef up this post as the details are revealed, but wanted you to be able to pencil “fun tiki weekend” on the weekend of June 25-27 on your calendar, like I just did!

Ohana Luau at The Lake 2010
Lake George NY

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This post- on a restaurant I’ve never been to, on the total opposite side of the country- began with a less than satisfying visit to a diner (I won’t get into it but will just say it wasn’t Retro Roadmap-worthy). As I drove away with a weight in my tummy, I began to question myself, “What IS Retro Roadmap worthy? Exterior? Interior? Food? Ambiance? Why do some places make the cut, and others don’t cut it?”

As I was trying to articulate this in my head, to myself, a story came on the radio about Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood California. The restaurant has just had its 90th birthday and is going stronger than ever (you can listen to the story yourself, on NPR right here )

(thanks to daisylind  on flickr for the use of her fabulous photo!)

Suddenly I was hearing phrases like:

Musso’s has thrived by remaining faithful to its traditions.

Step into this red leather and mahogany interior, and you step into another world, another era.

You walk into Musso’s, and it embraces you. Musso’s is historical serenity.

It was then I realized that I was hearing some of the definitions of Retro Roadmap worthiness coming out of my very own car radio, as if a voice from another sphere knew what I wanted to hear!

I  knew at that moment I had to get on the Retro Roadmap hotline to our West Coast Correspondent Anna B, who has been a fan of “Musso’s” since she has lived in L.A. From her new digs in San Fran she was kind enough to articulate in her own way what makes this place so wonderful: (more…)

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(10/2010 updated to note that this location has closed- boo!)

I know I’m not the only one with a love for cool old places so I’m always interested to learn about what other road-type folks have discovered. When I read the Diner Hunter review of Tommy Marco’s Ledo Restaurant it seemed like it would totally fit on Retro Roadmap.

According to his post, the restaurant (which has been at this original location since 1955 and should not to be confused with the franchise locations) is slated to move in early summer 2010, so I wanted to give folks a heads up to head over there before then.

Thanks to Spencer “Dinerman” Stewart for giving me permission to reprint his article as a Retro Roadmap Recommendation, and for making me hungry for square pizza! Visit his Diner Hunter website where he chronicles his take on the roadside, Little Taverns and more!

Tommy Marcos’ Ledo Restaurant
By dinerman

Before I headed back to school, I hit up Tommy Marcos’ Ledo Restaurant, which was opened in 1955. Now to avoid confusion, there is Ledo Pizza, the chain, and the Ledo Restaurant, in Adelphi Plaza, soon to move to College Park.

Tommy Marcos’ Ledo is the original- the one with the atmosphere- the one with tradition- and the one with damn good pizza. Ledo Pizza the chain is lacking in all those regards.

The pizza is a bit out of the ordinary in its rectangular shape. The crust is light and flaky an the pizza has a delicious sweet tomato taste. I ordered my favorite, pepperoni, black olives and sausage. A medium is one tray. The Ledo, in a nice touch not often seen anymore, still puts cherries in their pepsi.

The Ledo is a true local icon, with strong University of Maryland ties. Take a look at the murals on the walls.

They are supposed to move in early Summer.

Tommy Marcos’s Ledo Restaurant
2420 University Boulevard
Hyattsville, MD 20783
(301) 422-8122


Tommy Marcos's Ledo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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I realize I’m lucky living just up the street from a great single screen movie theater ( The Colonial – Home of The Blob – in Phoenixville PA) – I commented as much to Retro Roadhusband as we were sitting there this afternoon, sharing a bag of popcorn and waiting along with the nicely sized crowd, to see the classic “Singing In The Rain” on the big screen.

Now I know that many of you might not live close to a movie house like we do, but please, if you ever have the opportunity, you owe it to yourself to see some of these old classics (and some new ones too!) on the big screen.

The colors, choreography, everything was meant to be seen bigger than lifesize, and in my mind nothing compares to that sense of camaraderie you feel with complete strangers when you’re all sharing the same experience at the same time. Case in point today was the wonderfully spontaneous burst of applause we all gave to Donald O’Connor’s wonderful “Make ’em Laugh” acrobatic display, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one humming the title tune and trying a little tap-dancing on the way home.

Do yourself a favor and scout out the places near you to see the classics on the big screen. Let me know about them and I’ll post ’em on Retro Roadmap so other folks can find ’em too. It really is a great experience, and nice to be in the audience with other folks who feel the same way too.

Now pardon me but I gotta….DANCE! Won’t you join me?

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