Archive for November, 2010

We all know that some old places just don’t make it, for various reasons, while others flourish and thrive. A perfect example of this can be seen in 2 theaters from my neck of the woods back home in Massachusetts, the Wollaston Theatre in Quincy, MA and not more than 10 miles away, the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline, MA.

Filmmaker Justin Fielding was kind enough to let me share his short film about these 2 historic Boston area theatres, and seeing the Wollaston after not visiting it for so many years just breaks my heart.

I remember going to the “Wolly” a half dozen or so times before I moved away, and being absolutely fascinated by the history of the place (would you believe the Plasmatics played here?) and dismayed at the Haversham-esque dishevelment of the once grand space.

I asked Mr. Fielding to write a little something about the movie to share with Retro Roadmap Readers:

I make short films, features, and commercials with an ultra-low-budget production team called Castparty Productions, just south of Boston, MA.

In 2008, we signed up to do the International Documentary Challenge, in which you have five days to make a short, non-fiction movie. We decided to do a film about the long-shuttered Wollaston Theater, a beloved but decaying old movie house in the Quincy, MA neighborhood of the same name.

The proprietor, Arthur Chandler, showed up at the theater every day in what seemed to be — and, unfortunately, proved to be — a quixotic quest toward someday reopening the theater.

Mr. Chandler was very gracious, taking us on an extensive tour of the facility.

Fairly early in the process of developing the film, we got the idea to contrast “The Wolly” with the beautifully restored Coolidge Corner Theatre, in Brookline. Joe Zina, then-Executive Director of the non-profit Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, gave us free run of the place and an interview that contrasted poignantly, I think, with Mr. Chandler’s.

Sadly, just a month after we shot A Tale of Two Cinemas Mr. Chandler passed away.

Since then, there have been attempts to re-open the theater, but they haven’t panned out, as yet. Local residents still hold out hope that some white knight will make Arthur Chandler’s — and their — dream of The Wolly re-opening a reality.

The world gets much poorer every time a classic moviehouse gets bulldozed to make way a parking lot or a chain store, and I hope our film might inspire someone to revive this little gem of a theater and stave off such a fate for it.

My current project, nearing the end of post-production — and I hope garnering some film-festival attention — is an irreverent slacker comedy called Inventory, about lazy furniture store clerks who are supposed to be counting merchandise. Along the way, they learn a lot about each other and themselves. It features a soundtrack stuffed with fantastic shoulda-been-hits by Beatlesque powerpop greats, including Shoes, Stackridge, and many more. We describe the film as The Breakfast Club meets Clerks, and we think it’s a whole lot of fun. Maybe you’ll agree….

Anyway, many thanks to Mod Betty for sharing A Tale of Two Cinemas with this cool retro-centric community!

Justin Fielding

If you want to save the Wollaston Theatre (like I do, when I win the lottery!) here’s where it is:

Wollaston Theatre (Closed)
14 Beale Street
Quincy, MA 02170

And if you want to visit the Coolidge Corner, which is still open, here’s the info!

Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446-2917
(617) 734-2500

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Who can resist a timeless Christmas classic movie on the big screen, to get in that holiday mood? This Tuesday 11/30 The Roxy Theatre in Northampton PA is showing the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, starring a wee Natalie Wood and my fave Maureen O’Hara. And it’s FREE with the donation of a non-perishable food item for the Northampton Food Bank.


I came to this movie late in my life, but can’t resist the story of a jaded little girl who just might start to believe in Christmas, with the help of an eccentric old man (Santa? See the movie and find out!)

If you want to check out the beautiful Roxy this is the time to do it,  as the theatre will be closed from Dec. 1st – 24th while they refinish the auditorium floor, install new seats and carpeting, and finish interior painting. They will reopen on Dec. 25th, Christmas day.

This show is presented by The Northampton Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.

The show is at 7:30 PM
Doors open 7:00 PM

Roxy Theatre – Miracle on 34th Street 11/30
2004 Main St
Northampton, PA 18067-1314
(610) 262-7699

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It’s that time of year again, and RetroRoadmap will be your source for all sorts of cool vintage and retro places to go and gifts to buy for the holiday season!

Christmas Tree At The Fisherman

I’ve got a few new old places I’ll be sharing with you readers, but in the meantime don’t forget to search the archives for places near you to visit and shop at.

Buy gift certificates to your favorite local independent restaurant as gifts and introduce friends and co-workers to the wonders of diners and ice cream parlors!

Become a member of your local independent movie house, or buy gift certificates to there for the neighbors, mailman, et al. We just renewed our membership at The Colonial Theatre and it’s a great feeling to know you support something that gives pleasure to so many!

The Colonial Christmas

Visit your local 5&10 and buy some toys for the kids or something handy from their hardware department!

National 5 & 10 Newark DE(I’m heading here today to pick up a plastic cover for my sister’s dining table, and some odds and ends for the RetroRoadkids!)

Support your fellow fans of roadside related fun and buy a tee shir or print from Jeff and Kelly – the cool couple who are Vintage Roadside!


Pick up a diner guide from roadsidefan Kyle Weaver at Stackpole books!

Head out to your local antique, thrift, or junque store and do the best kind of recycling there is – unearthing treasures from a lost era and giving them a loving home. I’m off to do that today, to pick up a little something for my RetroRoadmum!

So while this can be the time to be overwhelmed with the barrage of messages imploring you to buy the latest electronic device or  overconsume in a big box store, remember there are independent mom and pop businesses out there who need our support at this time more than ever. Be a good elf, and buy from the small guy!
Christmas Elf

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Today is the busiest traffic day of the year and RetroRoadhusband and I have added our car to the conga line of travelers.

Not wanting to get into the 23 mile backup on the NJTPK we’re heading north on the back roads, at least while it’s light enough out to see anything cool!

Happy Thanksgiving to RetroRoadmap readers everywhere. I’m wicked thankful for your support and encouragement!

Sent from the Retro Roadphone

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Last time we were heading up to Massachusetts I made a Retro Roadmap “Rut-Roh” at Rutt’s Hutt in Clifton NJ. Learn from my mistake!

Rutt's Hut Neon SignRutt’s Hut is a classic roadside joint if ever there was one with a passionate fanbase for their “ripper” style hot dogs (aka split and deep fried).

While we did get one of their famous hot dogs, here’s where we went wrong. We shied away from venturing into the Bar / Dining Room for our meal, and opted to eat at the standup, takeout counter. It was white tiled and utilitarian. The Childrens Counter below the window was good for a chuckle.

Rutt's Hut Children's Counter

With Retro Roadluck on our side, it was handy that we wanted to use the facilities before we hit the road, and were directed by the gal behind the counter to go into the Bar/ Dining Room area.

When we entered we realized the err of our ways- check out this photo of the interior of the bar/dining room area of  Rutt’s Hut from the folks at Roadfood.com– how cool is that?

I am still kicking myself for not going in there first (I was spooked by a disembodied face peering out the window!) This place is a time capsule of vintage dining and bar decor, right down to the sassy waitress and bar patrons with slicked back hair.

One of the benefits of being a Retro Roadmap Reader is learning from my mistakes…so when you go to Rutt’s Hut go through this door:

Rutt's Hut Bar Dining Room(Walk towards that door even if you see someone looking out that round window right at you. Don’t be a scaredy cat like I was! I’m sure he’ll move aside when you try to go in.)

I’m glad to read that Rutt’s has more than hotdogs on their sit down menu – it means we get to go back there and eat in that vintage dining room!

Rutt’s Hut
417 River Road
Clifton, NJ 07014-1520
(973) 779-8615
Cash Only

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Many of the people who came to the RetroRoadmap / Roadsidefans meet-up in Scranton told me that the tour we took of the historic Lackawanna Train Station – now a Radisson Hotel in Scranton, PA was a highlight of their visit. As this tour was my idea I was pleased that this was such a success, and recommend you stop by the Radisson if you’re ever in Scranton. It’s Beautiful!
Lackawanna Train Station Radisson Hotel FrontThe building itself was constructed in 1908 and while it did go through the decline that many historic rail stations have, I am  happy to report when a classic gem like this avoids the wrecking ball (see my post on Worcester’s Union Station as an example).

I cannot rave more about the prompt and professional service that I received from the staff at the Radisson in Scranton, from my first email exchange with General Manager Michael Kearney to the friendly, informed tour given by Front Office Manager Rae Lynn Barrett. I have recently planned a lot of events via email and have to say that these two definitely left a positive impression on me.

The hotel was in fine form as we arrived, serving an elegant brunch in the main hall with live accompaniment on a grand piano. While we were all technically looking forward to eating in the Glider Diner, each of us commented at one point that had we known the brunch would look and smell so delicious, we would rather eat here. RetroRoadhusband and I have put it on our map for a nice Sunday drive for sure.

Lackawanna Train Station Radisson Hotel Stained Glass InteriorThe stained glass roof above the main hall is reported to be Tiffany glass – and (horror of horrors) the reason that the middle sections are missing is that during a period of decline and closure of the property years ago, construction workers threw the furniture from the floors above THROUGH the wonderfully decorative glass ceiling!!! At least there are some sections left to admire.

When we met up with Rae Lynn I did not know what to expect from the “tour” and thought perhaps she’d just point to a few areas of interest and let us roam around. Our entire group was delighted when we realized we were getting a behind the scenes guided tour of the property, including trips to the old safe, wine bar and even the…MORGUE!

Yes, that’s right, the morgue.

With the blessings of management she guided us downstairs through the bowels of this old building, to a small room with an antique door…Lackawanna Train Station Radisson MORGUE Door

And behind that door…another door!
Lackawanna Train Station Radisson MORGUE!And behind that door….well it was just a small cement lined room. But still, how cool is that, a creepy ancient morgue, that you would never know existed unless you took the tour. Rae Lynn tells that when the property was still a train station they needed a place to store bodies that were waiting to be transferred onto trains that hadn’t arrived yet. The painted warning was added recently for effect :-)

We were then brought up to the 6th floor (added to the station in the 1920’s) to get a glimpse of one of their guest rooms, which was well appointed and nicely decorated. Taking a peek outside the window I was thrilled to see the famous Scranton Electric City sign in the near distance:

Scranton Electric City Sign from Lackawanna Train Station Radisson Hotel WindowRae Lynn knew many facts about the property and her pride in working in such a wonderfully historic property was in evidence. We too were caught up in her enthusiasm for the details she pointed out, such as the green tiled walls that now line the Trax bar, to the decorative marble surrounding the main hall and cozy wine bar.

I was feeling bad for not taking more photos but doing a little internet search I found a WONDERFUL 360 tour you can take, to show you some of what we viewed in real life:

Click here to check out the 360 tour of the Radisson Lackawanna Train Station Hotel

Even if you don’t arrange a private tour like we did, do yourself a favor and poke your head into the Radisson at the Lackawanna Station if ever you’re in Scranton. It’s a marvelous testament to the grandeur of the past, and a thumbs up to a company like the Radisson who are keeping this gem viable for hopefully the next 100 years!

Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel Scranton
700 Lackawanna Avenue
Scranton, PA 18503
(570) 342-8300

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When I was told that the RetroRoadmap / Roadside fans meetup was going to be at the Glider Diner in Scranton,PA I knew I had to drive up and check it out before the big day. Being the hostess with the mostess means making sure there’s enough room for everyone, and this was one of the few times in my life where I was happy to see a bright sunny dining room added on to a vintage stainless steel diner. (According to the history of the Glider Diner the addition was actually made back in 1964 and called the Fireside Lounge, though it has been redecorated since then!)

Glider Diner ExteriorThe Glider diner is a 1950 Mountain View diner, and had we been able to finagle fitting all 17 of us into the vintage interior of the diner, I know the RoadsideFans / RetroRoadmap Readers would have preferred that. 3 folks who heard about the meet-up on RetroRoadmap came in to the back dining room to say hi to all of us, but said they wanted to eat in the diner part, and I can totally understand wanting to sit in that sun-filled pink diner interior.

Glider Diner InteriorThe photo above was taken after the diner had closed, that’s the only reason I got it looking so empty. The swell folks working at the Glider diner were kind enough to let us sit and chat at our table past their 2pm Sunday closing time, so we were able to snap a few photos of the interior without disrupting the customers.

To see this counter crowded with our gang, head over to Roadsidefans.com where Glenn Wells has posted some group photos he took that day. You may need to log in, but if you’re a RetroRoadmap reader you’re probably interested in RoadsideFans too, so it’s a win-win!

I was a bit overwhelmed with all that was going on so I ordered my standard 2 eggs over easy with bacon, and let me tell you, that was some of the better bacon I’ve had in a long time! Kate tried a hot porketta sandwich which is a spicy boneless pork sandwich with their famous gravy. Mike had frequented the diner before and dared order off menu for a chicken Caesar, and they were nice enough to accommodate. We all enjoyed our food, and our waitress did a wonderful job keeping track of everyone with good humor.

It was fun to match up faces to names, and soon enough postcards and photos were being passed around, stories being told and so many interesting conversations that I wanted to be a part of every single one of them. Such a good time was had that rumor has it that there will be another meet-up in May of 2011, so mark your calendar and join us, won’t you?

And if you’re ever in the Scranton area, don’t glide on by the Glider Diner, stop for a bite to eat!

Glider Diner
890 Providence Road
Scranton, PA 18508-2546
(570) 343-8036

Glider Diner on Urbanspoon

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Bongiorno! That’s the last name of the family who started Bongi’s Turkey Roost in Duxbury MA and has been selling fresh local farm raised turkeys for over 60 years. I wanted to get this post out before Thanksgiving so you folks on the South Shore (and beyond) could benefit from their dedication to tasty turkeys and sides, and maybe take some stress off of your own holiday preparation.

Bongi's Turkeys Neon Sign I remember taking a photo of their great vintage neon sign years ago, but could not remember where the place was, but through the power of the internet was able to find out where they were located AND ask RetroRoadsis to drive us down there to buy some turkey for dinner on one of my last visits home. Bongi’s is located on Route 53 which was once known as Turkey Row.

TinkertownIf the RetroRoadkids were acting better we might have made the detour to Tinkertown, but alas they were both being little terrors that day! I spent most of our visits wrangling them while Roadsis spoke with the friendly folks at the counter and ordered our food. I was able to snap a few photos between wrangles and loved seeing the old photos and ads framed around the clean and busy shop.

Raised For Quality - Sold On MeritI was also able to pick up a to-go menu that lists all of the food items they have for sale there, either prepared for immediate eating or to be cooked later. Looking at that menu I am reminded of that character Bubba in Forrest Gump, who was all about the shrimp prepared every which way. Except here at Bongi’s they’re all about the turkey prepared every which way!

They’ve got:

Hot Roast Turkey, Fresh Frozen Turkey, Stuffed Turkey Thigh, Turkey Breast, Turkey Gravy, Sliced Turkey Breast, Turkey Pot Pie, Frozen Turkey Dinner, Turkey Soup, Turkey Broth, Turkey Chili, Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Salad and Spaghetti Sauce with ground turkey in it!

Turkey Hearts, Livers & Gizzards
Along with the above noted turkey hearts, turkey livers and turkey gizzards (eyyywww!) they also sell tasty mashed potatoes, squash, stuffing, cole slaw, fried chicken and fruit pies too!

We got a little bit of everything for a family feast, including turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, squash and a turkey pie. Everything was very tasty, but I was most fond of the turkey pie, because I just love pie, savory or sweet. You have your choice of sizes, and if you want all white meat, mixed, all dark, veggies or not. What a country!
Bongi's Quick Frozen Turkey PieOne of the things that I think is so cool about Bongi’s is that you are dealing directly with the folks who raise the turkeys, not some faceless farming corporation. The turkeys are raised and processed right there, without hormones, antibiotics or pre-basting, and go right from the farm to your table. As their advertisements declare,” for over 60 years, all Bongi’s turkeys are raised for quality and sold on merit”.

Bongi's Turkey Products

And if you don’t get a turkey from them now for Thankgiving, remember they’re open year round for whenever you get a hankerin!

Bongi’s Turkey Roost
414 Kingstown Way
Duxbury, MA 02332
(781) 585-2392
Closed Sundays

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If you’re a vintage diner fan and want to learn more about the history of this popular style of American eatery, you owe it to yourself to attend one if not both of these talks, in the next few days/weeks. These presentations will be given by two of the foremost diner experts in the field, Richard “Dick” Gutman and Larry “Larry” Cultrera.

john woolf diner photograph shawmut diner new bedford ma panopticon gallery retroroadmap.com

Diner Talk at the National Heritage Museum, Lexington MA
Saturday, November 20, 2 PM

“What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That’s for Sure”

Richard J. S. Gutman, director and curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, will hold an illustrated lecture entitled, “What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That’s for Sure.” Gutman will elaborate based on 40 years of eating and research.

This is related to the exhibition of diner photographs by John D. Woolf on display at the museum, so it’s a perfect destination for the diner fan. And it’s FREE!

National Heritage Museum
33 Marrett Road (At the intersection of Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue)
Lexington, MA 02421
(781) 861-6559

diner hotline slideshow quincy ma december 6 retroroadmap.com

Diner Talk at the Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy MA
Monday December 6, 7pm

“The Evolution of Diners – From Lunch Carts to Mega Restaurants”

Larry Cultrera of DinerHotline.com will be giving a slide show and talk about the ever changing appearance of the American Diner.

Larry has been conducting a personal research project on documenting the American Diner for the past 30 years. Since November of 1980 he has photographed 800+ diners throughout the northeast including all the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland & Ohio, as well as parts of Florida, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia. He has also photographed other selected businesses/buildings along the roadside and has a fairly large collection of dinerpostcards and diner memorabilia.

The Thomas Crane Public Library
40 Washington St
Quincy, Massachusetts 02169
(617) 376-1301

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I have the hungry horrors this afternoon, and if I didn’t have dinner plans already I’d drive straight up to Zandy’s Steak Shop in Allentown PA for a cheese steak sandwich and a step back into time. Though the building has been stucco’d and blandified, the great brushed stainless steel and neon sign in front give a glimpse of what vintage decor  you will find when you walk in.

Zandy's Neon Sign

Owned and operated since 1940 by the Zandarski family (current owners are brothers Ed and Jeff), here’s a photo of what Zandy’s looked like “back in the day”. I love the curtains!

Zandy's Steak Shop Vintage Photo

Here’s a cool color version of that throwback photo from a Zandy’s Postcard for sale at Card Cow:

Zandy's Steak Shop Allentown PA Postcard Card Cow RetroRoadmap.com

And here’s what Zandy’s looked like just a few weeks ago! Pretty cool huh?
Zandy's Steak Shop Interior HDifferent curtains, but the same wonderful pink interior, pink formica tables, vintage chairs and fun mosaic tile floor! Sit yourself down at one of these tables – I’m partial to the ones at the window, and someone will come over and get your order. Or if you want to be closer to the action, you can sit at the counter.

The menu at Zandy’s your standard Hoagie / Sub Shop fare. Except for “Creamed Cabbage” being as side order you don’t see every day!

Zandy's Steak Shop MenuDisplayed next to the counter is a wonderful collection of dolls from around the world. Current owner Ed says that his grandfather would bring them home from trips, and it’s nice to see such a personal touch.

Zandy's Steak Shop Dolls

I got my standard cheesesteak (no onions, no peppers, I know- boring!) and when I was asked if I wanted sauce, my knee-jerk reaction was, “No Thank You”. Unfortunately I later learned that Zandy’s is famous not only for their steak sandwiches, but their cheesesteaks with sauce! I’ll have to bring Retro Roadhusband with me next time, as he’s a fan of saucey steaks.

Zandy's Steak Sandwich

(I have to admit that my sandwich was tasty but I feel like I was missing something without trying the sauce!)

The Zandy’s sauce is tomato based and a secret recipe handed down from generation to generation. We’ve got to get up there again soon to check it out!
Zandy's Steak Sauce

Zandy’s Steak Shop
813 St John St
Allentown, PA 18103
(610) 434-7874
cash only

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