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Archive for July, 2010

Hey Retro Roadmap fans – please come say hello tomorrow –  Saturday July 31 as I participate in an artist’s meet and greet / exhibition closing event at the Doo Wop Experience on Ocean Ave in Wildwood NJ. I’ll be on-hand from 4-6pm to discuss my photos, Retro Roadmap and of course vintage New Jersey diners!

Salem Oak Diner, Salem NJ(one of my personal fave diners I recently discovered – the Salem Oak Diner in Salem NJ)

Sponsored by the Doo Wop Preservation League, there will be DWPL members attending who can answer your questions about the League, a Representative from Preservation New Jersey and if we’re lucky, a couple of guest stars from the roadside fans world- Glenn Wells of the RoadsideFans website and Mike Engle, author of the book Diners of New York.

Doo Wop Experience Exterior

The night will be capped off with a guided bus tour of the Wildwood area’s Doo Wop 1950’s Motels! It will be a do not miss type of evening at the Jersey Shore, for sure!

RSVP to the Diners and Doo Wop event on Facebook

Diners and Doo Wop Event –
The Doo Wop Experience
4500 Ocean Ave
Wildwood, NJ 08260

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I’m posting about the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit ME out of chronological order, because it closes for the season soon after the summer is over and I want you all to have enough time to visit this swell seaside movie house!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME

The Leavitt Theatre is in the town of Ogunquit Maine, which is an easy exit off of the Maine Turnpike / 95, soon after you cross over from New Hampshire. I’ve got a bit of an “in” at the Leavitt as my uncle Kevin has been a projectionist there since 1974, and is still up in the booth one night a week. (Here’s a photo of Kevin I happened to find on the Leavitt’s Facebook Page!)

kevin-hickey-leavitt-theatre-ogunquit-maine-1991“1991 photo of Kevin Hickey in the Leavitt Theatre projection booth. Kevin has been a projectionist here since 1974! He still keeps the equipment running smoothly. He completely overhauled the booth with newer projectors in 2003.”


When I let him know that I’d be in the area he was happy to bring my friend Jeannie and me on a behind the scenes tour of the theatre. Lucky us!
leavitt-theatre-front-ogunquit-me-retro-roadmap

(Kevin says they rue the day that someone planted these trees in front- they were supposed to remain tiny, but they’ve grown to obscure the front of the theatre. While the tree hugger in me says let’em be, the photographer in me says- cut’em down, they’re getting in the way of a good picture!)

In chatting with owner Peter Clayton, who has owned the theatre since 1976, he says that the theatre, built in 1923, is thought to be the oldest continually running business in the town of Ogunquit, and I’m glad to hear that it had never closed down or had to turn towards “other sorts of programming” to stay afloat. Indeed I’m also glad to learn that because the Leavitt is a seasonal theatre they are able to get first run movies and play them for a few days at a time, so vacationers staying for a week can see a number of movies during their short stay.

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Ticket Booth

Peter’s family all have worked at the theatre in one capacity or another, from selling tickets from the booth (and needing a step stool to reach the ticket window) to selling popcorn with real melted butter atop. I myself spent a short bit of my early teen days here at the Leavitt when I was staying with family up here one summer. I remember seeing Airplane for the first time (this is dumb) and the second time (hey this is kinda funny) and the third time (OMG this movie is HYSTERICAL!) at the Leavitt.
Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Vintage Poster 1939
In walking (or limping in my case) down the incline towards the stage Kevin points out that all of the 600 seats are original but many have been reupholstered to add more padding for the comfort of us modern folks. One of the things that I’m thrilled to see they didn’t tamper with were the wire hat racks attached below many of the seats, so gentlemen would have a place to stow his hat during the show, for the comfort of the folks back in the hat wearing days.

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Seat with Hat Rack

The auditorium itself is not opulent, but has clean simple lines, something you’d expect to see in Maine. While the look may still be old fashioned, the sound system has been upgraded to Dolby Surround Sound, and we learned from Kevin about the Cinemascope and regular type movies, which they’re equipped to play both. I very much enjoyed the unusual vantage point looking out on Route 1 from the window of the projection booth!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME From Projection Booth

In reading some of the articles Peter was kind enough to lend me, I was dismayed to read that they don’t seem to get a lot of locals coming to the cinema, and instead it’s mainly (MAINE-LY!) tourists and vacationers. C’mon local folks, you don’t realize how good it is to have a movie house on your main street until it’s gone! Don’t take it for granted! Everyone one and all, make sure to support this independently owned, family run, continually operating 85+ year old theatre. And if you don’t live near the Leavitt, make sure you support your closest independently owned theatre- these days we’re all on a shoestring, but the family run businesses get hit harder than the big corporate multiplexes. Wouldn’t you want to see your money go into helping the Clayton family keep this movie cinema going, and not just lining the coffers of some giant conglomerate? I don’t like to get all preachy, but you know what I mean.

OK, I’m off the soap box I promise, and on to the “hey check this out” department:

As I turned the page of a York County Coast Star article about the Leavitt from 7/8/2004 (that is not online though I was ready to link to it), I recognized a movie title even though it was a film I’ve never even seen. Does that ring a bell with any regular Retro Roadmap Readers?

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Trapped In A Submarine

In a moment of kismet, I realized that was the same film that I had seen a poster from and snapped a photo of further down the east coast in Barnegat NJ! Cool stuff, huh? Neat when stuff comes together like that!
Trapped In a Submarine

So please- if you’re on Route 95 in Maine, driving past, or staying nearby for the week- maybe you’re on a first date in Portsmouth NH and you want to do something totally wacky and memorable- get yourself over to the Leavitt Theatre on Main Street in Ogunquit and help continue the tradition of this being the oldest continually running business in town!

The Leavitt Theatre
259 Main Street / Route 1
Ogunquit, ME 03907
(207) 646-3123

Like The Leavitt Theatre on Facebook!

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I had always wanted to see the movie The Friends of Eddie Coyle again because I remember there being a scene filmed in a diner, but I wasn’t sure what diner it was? My geographic brain thought it might be the Apple Tree Diner because that was still in Dedham when many of the scenes were filmed there. But I now know that could not be, because the entrance to the Apple Tree was in the middle and this diner has an entrance at the end.

OK diner fans- who knows what diner this was/is? I’m stumped!

Diner From Outside

Diner Barrel Roof

Diner Counter

Diner Interior Table Jukebox

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I remember seeing just a bit of the movie The Friends of Eddie Coyle when my dad was watching it once on TV and doing a complete double take when I saw that the scene was filmed in Dedham the town where both my mum and my dad grew up, and where “Grammie in Dedham” lived, on Richard Street, a few blocks away. We’d sometimes walk to Dedham Square to get an ice cream cone at Cole’s Drug Store or see a movie at the Community Playhouse.

Dedham Square(We used to call my sister PJ and I TOTALLY remember going into McLellan’s with Grammie & Mimi and getting a little china tea set)

Now that I’ve broken a bone in my foot (blah) and am having to spend a bunch of time with my leg up, I thought it would be a good time to do a Retro Roadmap Re-view of this 1973 movie, starring Robert Mitchum, and co-starring a number of great locales from the Boston area. Like watching Spenser For Hire, it was almost more fun to see where things were filmed as it was to follow the story! I’m going to break this post into 2 pieces as I know my diner pals will be interested particularly in part 2. But for now, here are a few places that made me curious, or homesick or both.

Here’s Robert Mitchum looking in the window of a cafeteria type restaurant across from a T station – who from Boston would miss that iconic letter? In the reflection I see that they serve Spanish Omlettes. Though I’m not quite sure, I’m thinking this place might’ve been near Park Street? OK Bostonians, what say you?
Boston Lunch Room Across from MTA Station Serving Spanish Omlettes

Here’s an interior shot of the same restaurant, with the cafeteria line in the back. The reflection in the window from the subway stop says, “MTA All Points” – like Charlie on the MTA!

Boston Lunch Room

One location that appered a lot in the movie is this corner bar- I love the barstools like diner counterstools and the gigantic fan in the back corner. I bet there were still many of these neighborhood joints still around in 1973- does this look familiar to anyone? Someone on the IMDB message board for the movie says it was on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave, where Tower Records used to be.Boston Bar Room(and if anyone is wondering, that’s actor Peter Boyle’s glowing pate)

Moving out to the suburbs, Dedham was featured prominently in the movie, and one of the major bank robberies was filmed at the bank my Grandmother used to go to. The scene that got me all in a tiz however was the one shot at the Dedham Plaza shopping center on Route 1. Not only did I work there during college but we used to walk down there too, when we were bored from playing on the piazza at Grammies’ or didn’t want to rest on the divan (two words I only use when referring to her house, so old fashioned)

Lechmere and Dedham Plaza Signl know this is fuzzy, but check it out – it’s Lechmere! I remember hearing Bette Middler’s version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy on the car radio when sitting in that parking lot when I was a kid and thinking it was the coolest song ever- what random things your brain remembers, huh?

I told my mother about watching the movie and she said that Barbo’s had been there for years. I know it wasn’t there when I worked at the plaza, but am drawing a blank at what it became. Perhaps it was cut up into little shops. But that Friendly’s was still there, I used to go get ice cream sometimes on my break from Pier 1.

Barbo's Furniture, Friendly

That Rexall was still there when I worked there and if you watch the movie there’s a panning shot where you can see the Woolworths there too. Just look at all those cool old cars! I just took a quick look to see if I could see Gram’s white Ford Falcon, but she must not have been shopping that day.Dedham Plaza Liggets Rexall

Speaking of shopping, I love how they used a real shopping bag from the local Stop & Shop grocery store to hide the contraband weapons in. Funny how I saw that logo go by in a split second and I knew exactly what store it was from. Now that’s the lasting impact of design, right there.
Stop & Shop Bag Garden of Eatin

There are plenty of other Boston views in the movie- Government Center and City Hall Plaza which were only 3-4 years old at that point, a hockey game with Bobby Orr at the Gaaaaahden and other places that may hold special meaning for you if you’re from the area. Heck, even seeing the skyline with the Hancock tower under construction is a hoot.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but this location definitely has a lasting impact.
Billards Ten Pin Candlepin Is this the bowling alley in Dorchester near where the Neponset Drive In used to be? There I am talking like a Bostonian, giving directions based on places that aren’t there anymore!

Stay tuned for part 2- What Diner Is That in the Movie?

Or if you can’t wait, you can rent The Friends of Eddie Coyle from Netflix like I did!

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Hey Retro Roadmap fans – please come say hello to me this Saturday July 31 as I  participate in an artist’s meet and greet / exhibition closing event at the Doo Wop Experience on Ocean Ave in Wildwood NJ. I’ll be on-hand from 4-6pm to discuss my photos, Retro Roadmap and of course vintage New Jersey diners!

Salem Oak Diner, Salem NJ(one of my personal fave diners I recently discovered – the Salem Oak Diner in Salem NJ)

Sponsored by the Doo Wop Preservation League, there will be DWPL members attending who can answer your questions about the League, a Representative from Preservation New Jersey and if we’re lucky, a couple of guest stars from the roadside fans world- Glenn Wells of the RoadsideFans website and Mike Engle, author of the book Diners of New York.

Doo Wop Experience Exterior

The night will be capped off with a guided bus tour of the Wildwood area’s Doo Wop 1950’s Motels! It will be a do not miss type of evening at the Jersey Shore, for sure!

RSVP to the Diners and Doo Wop event on Facebook

Diners and Doo Wop Event –
The Doo Wop Experience
4500 Ocean Ave
Wildwood, NJ 08260

Read Full Post »

Since I’ve been talking about “cool old stuff” places – head down the road a few blocks from Unshredded Nostalgia to Recycling The Past if you need something old and cool that is bigger than a bread box. Here you will discover a cache of unique architectural salvage, vintage fixtures, tile, doors and more. This Barnegat NJ outpost is a great place to explore when searching for antique and funky old architectural pieces for your home or business.

Save The Pink Sink!

At the Hacienda we love our seafoam green tiled bathroom with canary yellow sink and bathtub, but were devastated when the yellow toilet stopped working and we had to replace it. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to find vintage yellow bathroom fixtures, and with this being the only bathroom in the house, we didn’t have a lot of time to wait for the perfect one. We settled for a cream colored one and got a pal to install it (the night before our big Christmas party no less!)

Had we known about Matt White and his property filled with repurposed and recycled items we might have been able to find a matching commode, and definitely have his family owned place in mind when we add an all important pink powder room to the Hacienda!

Vintage Bathroom Fixtures

I spent way too long in the hot sun participating in what felt like the coolest suburban archeological dig ever, and I know I didn’t get to see all of the great things that are displayed and hidden around the yard.

Salvaged Tiles

Their inventory may include at any time,

“Architectural antiques, mantles, stained glass windows, lighting fixtures (both interior and exterior), iron gates, and fencing, garden implements such as furniture, urns, statuary, and fountains…newel posts, gingerbread, molding, Victorian pieces, porches, and doors, doors, and more doors as well as windows, plumbing fixtures, columns, and hardware”

He didn’t mention feisty chipmunks or gigantic pieces of glass, but I found ’em!

Glass

I call this one: WhatareYOUlookinat??

Whatreyou Lookinat?

While roaming the land trying to figure out what we might “need” for the Hacienda I stumbled upon a house, and since it looked like it might be open, I entered. I was met with not only a refreshing blast of air conditioning, but also friendly proprietor Matt White. We had a lovely chat about antiquing, thrifting, Brimfield and more and it was great to speak with someone so enthusiastic about what he’s doing – traveling all over the place and collecting the leftover pieces of demolished architectural gems and everyday places.

Coca Cola Cornerstone (There I go getting that Beneath The Planet of the Apes vibe again!)

One thing that was not revealed to me until I got home and checked out the Recycling The Past website, was that they had been able to salvage many items and pieces from La Ronda a beautiful castle of a home which graced Bryn Mawr PA from 1929 – 2009 ( and is now an infamous example of a senseless teardown by someone who has more money than kindness in their hearts).

la-ronda-recylcing-the-past-retro-roadmap

While I am devastated that this architectural beauty is no longer with us, I am glad that some of it was able to be spared, and that some folks will hopefully enjoy some of the items that were able to be saved.

So if you live in a house as small as our little Spanish Hacienda, a mansion like La Ronda or somewhere in between, Recycling the past is your source for authentic old architectural details, fixtures and one of a kind decor pieces. Now about that pink powder room….!

Recycling the Past
381 North Main Street
Barnegat, NJ 08005
(609) 660-9790

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Thanks to Diner Man Spencer Stewart and his blog Diner Hunter for sharing this great post from Kevin Patrick about the neglected / closed / abandoned vintage diners of New Jersey.

mac-diner-new-brunswick-nj-kevin-fitzpatrick-retro-roadmapUsing the same Preservation New Jersey list of the top 10 endangered historic sites that I did as inspiration for my New Jersey diner photo exnibit currently in Wildwood, he shows the other side of the coin, and what can happen to these great places if they aren’t given the love and support they need. Take heed peoples!

Check out Kevin’s post and list of the top 10 endangered diners in New Jersey which are no longer open as well as the ones that are getting close to that point. One look at his great photos show that these places are definitely worth a chance at saving and reopening.Thanks Kevin for such a detailed well thought out piece, and for allowing me to spread the word about these places here on Retro Roadmap.

If I win the lottery, I’ll take care of all of these sadly neglected places that need some love and appreciation. Just like all the puppies at the pet store!

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