Friday, March 7, 2014


  1. 50s and 60s(!) for the next few days, but this Neverending Winter attacks again on Wednesday and Thursday, with more fucking snow possible. After that, it looks like Spring and normal temps will finally be here to stay, though.

    55 today, and sunny. I'm thinking about taking a trip out to my favorite Delaware County hamburger stand for lunch (though leave those stupid tomatoes off my burgers, especially in winter!), heading out to Valley Forge for a bit, then having dinner at a Korean spot in Olney or Columbian or something along 5th Street on the way back home.

    Sounds like a day!

    Having some of Kensington's own Reanimator Coffee Dukunde Kawa Rwanda roast for breakfast right now. A good start to the weekend.

    Laundry can wait 'til tomorrow... ;)

    1. The only drawback to this plan is having to move my car, which currently happily sits in the spot right outside my front window for only the second time since I bought it three weeks ago.

      Typically, I have to park two or three blocks away, but that's what I signed up for by having a car in the city. Oh, well, enjoying the weather takes precedence over convenient parking today, for me, especially this year.

      Won't be moving it again after today until I leave for work at 5:15 Monday morning, so hopefully I can snag another spot at least somewhere on my own little block, when I get back tonight. We'll see, I guess!

  2. Okay, I canceled Valley Forge and dinner in Olney, but I did head out to Charlie's for lunch. Took some pics and did a blog about it, like to read it here it go.

    In related news, I now know what I must do with my blog. Turn it into a Roadside America / Americana photo journey kinda thing, mainly. That should be fun.

    Be on the look out for my Philly Luncheonettes / Philly Lunch Counters blog soon, too. I love that dying breed of American eatery, but fortunately my own neighborhood, and the rest of the River Wards, still abound in them. I consider it my duty to document them all.

    1. That sounds fantastic, Jay.

      Philly Luncheonettes / Philly Lunch Counters blog

      I love this kind of cultural history and studies. Will this also include diners?

      I read a book about this awhile ago by a working academic historian who suggested that the rise of the luncheonette or diner in the United States in middle part of the twentieth-century suggested the rise of the American middle class and the fact that families who could not eat out during the Depression could now participate in an activity once above their finances.

      Oh, and btw, ol' Jack Burton?


      I love that movie!

      Big Trouble!

      Jack just wanted his truck back!

      The funny thing is, I literally pondered the idea of putting it on today as just background for house puttering.

    2. I think I'm gonna leave diners to the many others who cover those, especially with their being so many of them. There are dozens of books out there on just NJ diners alone. I'm thinking now that most people from outside the northeast probably don't see any distinction between diners and lunch counters? But there definitely is, even if I can't precisely put it into words myself. It's just something you feel. ;)

      There are two lunch counters right down the street under the York-Dauphin El on Front Street that I'll start with, and then I'll hit a few more up Kensington Avenue toward Allegheny. Then head off into Port Richmond, which also has a few classic old lunch counters. That should keep me busy for a few months, at which point I'll head out into Delaware and Montgomery Counties and hit the luncheonettes on the frozen-in-time Main Streets in some of the small towns out that way. Photos of old store signage (I particularly love old Coca Cola and 7-Up signs) can go on the other blog.

      I finally have a blog focus now, heh.

      I hear there's still an automat somewhere in Manhattan? Or there was, until very recently. I stumbled across a few Horn & Hardart postcards somewhere not long ago, but I can't remember where now. Should have bought some when I had the chance.

      "Have you paid your dues, Jack? Yes sir, the check is in the mail."

    3. *there being so many of them.


    4. Well, I have to tell you, man, I will very much look forward to reading this series.

      btw, wouldn't you say that the difference between a lunch counter such as those at, say, Woolworth's, and a diner, is that the lunch counter is attached to a larger operation?

    5. Yeah, that sounds about right in the historic sense of 'lunch counter,' which is why I'm leaning towards using 'luncheonette' now. It was my understanding that the two terms (lunch counter and luncheonette) are interchangeable anymore, but you're correct that lunch counter is still associated with a Woolworth's-type setup in many minds.

      As for diners, there's also the regional differences. A 'diner' to an Oregonian, say, probably conjures up more an image of the kinds of places I'm looking into documenting, a roadside truck stop coffee-shop type place with a dozen stools at a counter; while a 'diner' to a New Jerseyan means a larger place (often featuring plenty of stainless steel and neon) with mostly booths and tables and an eighteen-page menu featuring everything from all-day breakfast to steaks and lobster to pasta to four pages of sandwiches and two pages of Americanized Greek cuisine.

      I don't really know of any Woolworth's-style lunch counters around here these days, but plenty of places with eight to twelve stools along a counter, a simple menu of simple foods mainly in the form of a small menu board on the wall above the grill that hasn't changed since 1974, and that small but real time warp feeling you don't even really get from diners or other types of older restaurants anymore these days.

      The food isn't gonna blow you away, though sometimes it'll surprise you (and the selections, too - how many places still serve things like creamed chipped beef on toast these days? Philly-area luncheonettes, that's who!), and the coffee is generally to be avoided, at least in my opinion, but it's all about the ambiance and the history.

      I've eaten at both luncheonettes on Front Street under the York-Dauphin El (and the bulletproof, yellow-signed American Chinese place / beer store as well, but those North Philadelphia staples are a different topic for another time!) that I plan to start with, and one of them actually had one of the better cheesesteaks I've had in the city. Nothing to go out of the way for, but a very solid neighborhood spot for when I'm in the mood for one of those. Kitty's Luncheonette in Port Richmond is the one I'm really looking forward to, though. Haven't been there yet, so I may just skip ahead and hit them first, possibly as early as this weekend.