Archive for December, 2010

Though the chain stores try to obscure this roadside gem from sight, Zip’s Diner raises their hand and flags down passersby with one simple request – EAT! And that’s exactly what you should do should you be in this corner of Connecticut -Eat At Zip’s Diner in Dayville, CT.

Eat At Zip's Diner

Even a gloomy grey day could not diminish the charm of this stainless steel diner, one of the most photogenic ones I’ve come across in my travels.

Both Sides Now at Zip's Diner

I entered the diner and was pleased to find a corner booth, my favorite location in a diner. Ordered a cup of tea and was delighted with the mini teapot that it was served in. While there were many booths and counter seats filled this mid-afternoon, you know how I wait for people to leave the scene so I can snap a photo, so here’s a shot of the formica table and rounded ceiling of this 1950’s era O’Mahony diner.

My Neigbors At Zip's Diner

Here are some more great photos of the interior of Zip’s Diner, courtesy of our pal Gunnar at Eccentric Roadside.

And here’s what I had for lunch!

Chicken Sandwich at Zip's Diner

A chicken cutlet sandwich was always my default dinner at the Bel Aire Diner in Peabody, and this one from Zip’s hit the spot just right. I also had the luxury of viewing this lovely vintage mural while I was dining:

Lake Alexander, Dayville CT Mural at Zip's Diner

While the weather was cold and gloomy, I left Zip’s diner mosty toasty. A swell lunch at a vintage diner like Zip’s will do the trick!

Open 6am-9pm every day. Don’t zip by, pull off the exit and check out the neon when its all lit up, or sunny out!

eat eat

Zip’s Diner / Dining Car
Connecticut 101
Killingly, CT 06241
(860) 774-6335

6:00 am – 9:00 pm

Zip's Dining Car on Urbanspoon

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I was overjoyed at the fact that RetroRoadhusband and I were able to swing ourselves off of the Garden State Parkway in Elmwood Park so we could grab a slice of pizza – and Americana. I was glad to see that Pizza Town U.S.A. hadn’t changed from my last visit in 1991. In all reality it looks like it hasn’t changed much since opening in 1958!
Pizza Town USA Neon

It’s easier to get to Pizza Town USA from the southbound side of the Parkway, but we managed a U-turn and a wrong turn and did some clever merging to get ourselves into the parking lot bathed in the glow of neon.Once inside we chose the line for slices, and within moments were devouring some thin crust cheesy goodness. We would’ve ordered more than just 1 slice, but this was just a “snack” as we were to dine officially at the Olympia Diner in CT.We downed it so fast I didn’t have time for a photo, but I do love the throwback graphics on their soda cups. You go, Uncle Sam!

Pizza Town USA - Uncle Sam Cup
Family owned and operated at the same location since 1958, Pizza Town USA has a few tables for folks who want to “dine in” and we saw a brisk to go business for whole pizzas as well. There are 3 different lines, all labeled clearly, so make sure you get in the right one.  Funny part was when one customer changed his mind mid-order and decided he wanted a whole pie, he had to move to another line. The counter guy moved to the new line too, to ring him up!

Pizza Town USA - Box History

Be forewarned, while there are some “facilities” in the back of the building, it’s a shared one stall type of arrangement. You don’t see many places like this anymore especially right off a busy highway, so stop by here for a quick slice and a photo and get back on your way!

Pizza Town U S A

89 US Highway 46
Elmwood Park, NJ 07407
(201) 797-6172

Cash only.

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The bright neon glow of the fabulous Olympia diner sign  in Newington Connecticut was a welcomed sight as we made our way towards Mass via the Berlin Turnpike on our last trek home. We were totally pulled into the tractorbeam of this bright oasis and I’m superpsyched to add this roadside delight to the RetroRoadmap of CT!
Neon Sign - Olympia Diner Newington, CT

As we entered this 1950’s era O’Mahoney diner we were pleased to see that the interior did not disappoint, and we were told to sit anywhere we’d like. We opted for a booth near the entrance but they also have an extended dining room for larger parties.

Olympia Diner Interior
Usually the tabletop juke boxes don’t work, which makes me sad, but in this case they were operational. Much to our dismay however, the folks behind us were pumping in quarters during our entire stay and had less than great musical taste. Luckily the food we ordered (cheeseburger / BLT) tasted better!

Tableside Juke Box - Olympia Diner, Newington CT

As I was looking over RetroRoadhusband’s shoulder I realized why the Olympia Diner looked so familiar to me – and realized it was featured on the original cover of American Diner by Richard J. S. Gutman himself! That’s a copy of the cover behind the cash stand.

American Diner - Olympia Diner Newington, CT

Food was good, the folks working there nice, and glad to know  they’re open every day ’til Midnight. I recommend going at night so you can see that stellar neon sign all lit up! The Berlin Turnpike was lined with old motels and hotels as well, they were fun to look at too.

Olympia Diner
3413 Berlin Turnpike
Newington, CT 06111-5106
(860) 666-9948

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Sometimes going down a different street can make all the difference- as it is exactly how I found this great vintage neon sign and wonderful vintage building housing Harry Louie Laundry and Dry Cleaning in downtown Dover, DE. (Looks like Happy Louie on this bright December day!)

Harry Louie Dry Cleaning & Laundry Dover DE
I was taking an alternate route to Spence’s Bazaar to pick up our Christmas pie when I drove past this cheery sight and you know I just had to stop and capture it! Here’s a closer look at that well kept sign:


Glad to report that the closed sign is only for the Christmas holiday, and while not much info can be found online about the origins of the business, it appears to be family owned and operated and is a local favorite.

Harry Louie Laundry Dover DE - Standing Tall

One thing that touched me about Harry Louie is that the building remains standing tall with a well maintained neon sign, despite the fact that the businesses that had flanked it years ago have been turned into parking lots. Thanks Harry Louie, for standing tall where others have fallen!

So if you’re ever in Dover DE and need some dry cleaning, stop by here to support this business, and if you’re in the area and are just stopping to photo – go on in and tell them how much you dig their sign and building. I’m sure it would make their day! I’ll remember to swing by here some evening to see if the sign gets lit up too.

Harry Louie Laundry & Dry Cleaning
129 South Governors Avenue
Dover, DE 19904
(302) 734-8195 ‎

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It was kismet that RetroRoadhusband and I were near downtown Media PA this week as I’ve been wanting to showcase Deals Variety Store as a shopping destination for the longest time. And who can resist walking on the wood floors of a once Woolworths right before Christmas? Not me!

Snowman and Snow Shovels

Entering the store you are reminded that Woolworths and their like use to be in practically every downtown, and served such a useful purpose as a one stop place to get everything you needed.

Deals - Woolworths Entrance

We needed some light bulbs for our front post light and Deals is the only place in the area I know that carries the ones I like. The big and boring chain stores only have the big and boring bulbs-!

Vintage Light Bulb Display

Deals is clean and bright and chockablock full of practically anything you could need! In our short trip in we saw candles, candies, galvanized buckets, twine, chain, lighter fluid, paint, squirt guns, table cloths, Christmas decorations and so so so much more. They make keys too!

Ajax Unbreakable Pocket Combs ( I love these Ajax Unbreakable Comb Displays, and am kicking myself now for not getting one to put in Retro Roadhusband’s Christmas Stocking!)

Speaking of Retro Roadhusband he thought we might want to get a magnifying glass, but I told him we were too young for that!

Magnifying Glass

So many useful things abound here. While we didn’t pick up any jute twine – it’s biodegradable AND holds a knot, dontcha know – I know where we can get some when we need it.

Jute Twine

Downtown Media is worth a visit itself for the number of independently owned and operated businesses, and if it wasn’t such a chilly day we would’ve done more shopping on State Street.

Deals Store Media PA

Don’t forget right down the block from the main Deals location is the Deals stationery annex with great prices on boxes, pads of paper, envelopes and cards. We cracked up at the Anne Taintor type magnets on display and were psyched to find a packing tape gun to replace the one RetroRoadhusband left at the post office.

Deals Variety Store
15 West State Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 627-9996 ‎

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Best wishes to everyone this holiday weekend, thanks for all of your support!

Dolles Taffy on the boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach Delaware. Christmas eve 2010.

Sent from the Retro Roadphone

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As a holiday treat to my mother, sisters and the Retro Roadkids, I ventured to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago to bring them to a holiday recital on the Great Boston Music Hall Organ, at the Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, MA. Listening to classic Christmas tunes played on this grand pipe organ, a splendid time was had by all!

The Retro Roadkids

Even Bach got into the holiday spirit!

Bach Goes Christmas

Originally built for the Boston Music Hall which opened in 1852 (now known clunkily as the “Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre”) the organ was inagurated into that space 11 years later, to great public acclaim.

However, much like we see today, times and tastes changed. In 1881 the Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded and drew the audience away from the great organ. With the orchestra’s popularity also came need for additional stage space, and it was deemed that this outmoded relic was too big for the hall’s current needs.

Despite vigorous protests the organ was sold and removed from the hall. Eventually the organ – which had cost over $60,000 to build, was resold for $1500 to Edward Francis Searles of Methuen.

Boston Music Hall Organ Christmas ConcertFinished in 1909, the Serlo Organ Hall in Methuen, MA where the organ now resides was built specifically for this great organ and is known for its wonderful acoustics and italianate decor. It is interesting to note that the organ was used only for the private entertainment of Mr. Searles, and the public was not admitted to the hall during his lifetime (he died in 1920).

Now on the register of historic places, you’d never know what a fabulous treat awaits you behind it’s classic brick facade. I would not have known about it myself except that I had attended a wedding there years ago. It’s a beautiful space for a wedding for sure.

Boston Music Hall Organ Pipes

I knew this was a place that my mother would enjoy, and the RetroRoadkids were amazed with the organ as well. I’m hoping the memories of seeing it and hearing it will last them a lifetime (an auntie can dream!)

RetroRoadboy is AmazedThe sound was just lovely, and while I did take some video of it, you end up hearing more of the woman behind me singing along to the carols than I would prefer. Here’s a video from YouTube that gives you an idea of the grandeur and sound of this great pipe organ:

We were lucky enough to attend this concert before they closed up for the winter (can you imagine how expensive it would be to heat such a place?!) but please keep this fantastic destination in mind and check out their website to learn when they re-open in the spring. It’s truly a hidden gem!

Methuen Memorial Music Hall
92 Broadway
Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 685-0693

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It’s a busy holiday season but between now and the end of the year we’ll share with you some great roadside places we’ve stopped on our trips north this fall, just in time to add them to your holiday travel plans.

Retro Roadmap Christmas Couple

Look forward to a vintage diner with a killer neon sign, a cozy coffee shop in the big city, and a roadside pizza stand that I first stopped at almost 20 years ago-!

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McMenamy’s Hamburger House in North Easton, MA has been on of my fave roadside hamburger destinations long before RetroRoadmap was even invented. And since we were just talking about Hilliards Candy further down Route 138, I thought I’d share it with you, so you can eat something savory before getting a sweet treat!

McMenamy's Hamburger House

According to their menu:

The McMenamy family has been providing food in North Easton for over 70 years. Frank McMenamy started his butcher shop in this location in 1954, grinding the leanest, finest beef available. From Frank’s hands to his son-in-law, Al Carter, who started here as a part time cook then taking over the restaurant. He was here for 50 years. Now Al’s son, Steven Carter, keeps the dream alive to produce the same quality hamburgers as the generations before him.

And when they say hamburger HOUSE, they’re not kidding!

McMenamy's Great All Beef Hamburgers

Here’s a peek through the window at the counter where I like to sit and the Retro Roadkids like to spin. The house itself is pretty small, with less than a dozen small tables and few more counter stools than that, but I’ve never had a problem finding somewhere to sit.

McMenamys Hamburgers Hamburger House Photos by Burt Lewis TV Digg ( Photo by Burt Lewis)

For all the years I’ve been going to McMenamy’s the one thing I’m absolutely consistent with is never remembering whether I like the steakburger or the cheeseburger better! I’ve been tolkd that their clam chowder is very good, but when in a burger house, I like to stick with the burgers.

Coca - Cola Menu

Here’s what I got the last time I was there – it’s the plate version, with fries and “salad” tomato and iceberg.


Here’s the “other kind” of burger – RetroRoadsis ordered this one, sans fries and accoutrements, but proclaimed it tasty as could be.

CheeseburgerThe retro roadkids bucked the system, but I’m cool with that. RetroRoadgirl got a hot dog (frankfurter!) on a nicely grilled New England Style roll. Which means the only kind of hot dog roll in my book, always made more delicious with the fact that you can get them buttered and tosted right on the grill. Takes what’s basically a folded up piece of bread and brings it to new heights!

Frankfurter on New England Style Roll (Photo by RetroRoadgirl. Not pictured, RetroRoadboy’s grilled cheese sandwich)

We sat at the counter and were delighted to be able to chat with our waitress, who was darling with the kids, and they loved seeing the cook’s head occasionally poke out of the window below the menu. It was a special treat for the kids to get a tootsie pop after their meal, but to me, a burger at the Hamburger House was treat enough!

McMenamy’s Hamburger House
181 Washington Street
North Easton, MA 02356-1118
(508) 238-9051
Open 11-6:30, closed Sundays.

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I was told recently that ribbon candy – a staple in the Christmas candy dish of grandmas everywhere, was invented in Brockton MA – near where my RetroRoadsister and her fam live. A big holiday thanks goes out to Retro Roadmap Reader and blogger in her own right, Miss Cherry Bubbles of Past Life Vintage for letting me know that it still is being made by one of my fave candy shops – Hilliard’s Candy, located just next door to Brockton, in Easton MA.

Here’s a sneak peek into how Hilliards make -by hand and by wacky crimping machine-  this wonderful looking sweet treat:

I love how their ribbon candy has that satiny ribbon glow to it – I’ve seen other ribbon candy that looks more opaque, but this one reminds me of the Christmas candy of my childhood.

Speaking of Christmas candy – here’s Hilliards making some Peppermint Bark, using their own candy canes (and a mallet!). Yum! Hilliard’s is famous for their chocolate as well as their hard candies so you know this is going to be delish.

Family owned and operated since 1924, Hilliard’s is one of my fave places to visit year ’round with the Retro Roadkids – in the summer they have homemade ice cream made with their candy toppings – including their real chocolate jimmies or sprinkles to you non-New Englanders! I’ll have to snap a few photos next time I’m up there (when it’s warm enough to eat ice cream again!). They have 3 locations but my fave is the one in Easton, right near the RetroRoadfam!

Hilliard’s Candy
316 Main Street
North Easton, MA 02356-1107
(508) 238-6231

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