Press-Republican

April 1, 2012

Gordie's diner reprise

GORDIE LITTLE, Small Talk
Press-Republican

---- — It apparently opened a faucet of memories when I wrote recently about diners.

I heard the iconic email phrase, "You've got mail," over and over again. I answered the telephone repeatedly and responded to a plethora of Facebook messages. It took much longer to do our grocery shopping, thanks to old and new friends stopping in the aisles to offer things like, "Yeah, but you didn't mention the diner in …"

I love to say "Quechee" out loud. Like "Peasleeville," it just rolls off the tongue. Farmer's Diner in Quechee, Vt., deserves mention. Recently, they served free pancakes while raising money for nonprofits and deserve a tip of the hat.

Duke's Diner on the Tom Miller Road was formerly in downtown Plattsburgh. Along with other local eateries, the proprietor has used his contacts and his good name to raise money for worthy causes.

This space isn't large enough to include the names of all the diners past and present that are jammed into my addled brain; but I feel compelled to mention a few. I was reminded of a former diner located on the north side of Route 3 east of the intersection with Route 22B.

I received an email from Phil Gordon along with a neat photo, circa 1918. He wrote, "The diner sat on the side of where the Highway Gas station is located. In the '30s and '40s, Vic Rivers had a diner across from the D&H Railway station. It's now the Johnson Glass Company." Great information.

Bruce Behan wrote, "Read your column on diners and it brought me back to my younger days. I remember Jock's Diner (Jock's Lunch) in Cadyville. Of course, there was the Plattsburgh Diner across from the Federal Building on Brinkerhoff. There was the diner on Clinton Street which I think had more names than Zsa Zsa Gabor has had husbands. I also liked the Cherry Hill Diner in Malone, which was popular with the truck drivers for the good food."

Behan went on to give me a hearty laugh with what he called "diner slang." The list included orders such as, "burn one, walk it through the garden and pin a rose on it (a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion); sweet Alice or moo juice (for milk); bowl of bird seed, dough well done, eighty-six the cow grease, and squeeze one (bowl of cereal, dry toast and a glass of orange juice)."

Lora Bushy remembered Mil's Diner, "in the form of a railcar," in Chateaugay. It was moved from one side of the street to the other, but "the long line of those fun-to-twirl-on stools remained along with the friend, neighbor or complete stranger who appeared to sit next to me."

Marilyn Parrott also remembered Mil's. She said her mother started as a waitress there and later worked her way up to become a cook and baker. She added, "Blanche's pies were pretty famous in the North Country for a long time."

My friend Jerry Rambach has fond memories of a diner in Paramus, N.J. He said, "There were four waitresses shouting orders (no written orders) and this guy would have six or seven things on the grill or the broiler or on the stove at one time and I never saw a mistake. I was in awe."

Les Bradford, who illustrated my latest children's book, said, "We recently drove by Cheryl's Diner on Route 11B in Potsdam. That's where the bulletin board fell on my head as I sat at the counter. I love that place!"

He also remembers Tubby's Diner near his former childhood home in Massachusetts where, "When I was a kid my folks would give me 50 cents and that would get me a hamburger and a pint of milk."

Thanks to all who responded with their personal diner memories. I love you all, and I'd like to invite you to one of my favorite greasy spoons sometime for "Adam and Eve on a raft and wreck 'em." That would be two eggs, scrambled on toast.

Have a great day, eat hearty and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at gordandk@aol.com.