A Multiple Trips Report

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Michael Stern
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2010/10/25 12:48:19 (permalink)

A Multiple Trips Report

Bruce's Digest Post about Roadfood Restaurants that still are thriving inspired me to go through some transparencies from our first Roadfood trips and get to reminiscing about some of the people and places that are no more. I will be adding more to this thread as I sort through them. I wonder if any of you remember Ma Groover of Ma Groover's Pig & Plate in Valdosta, Georgia:

...or Mrs. Bromley, of Mrs. Bromley's Boarding House in Clarendon, Texas (with a pan of her wonderful sweet rolls):

post edited by Michael Stern - 2010/10/25 13:02:45
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 12:55:31 (permalink)
    Pretty cool Michael...do you remember the dates these were taken?
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 13:02:09 (permalink)
    ChiTownDiner

    Pretty cool Michael...do you remember the dates these were taken?


    If I could dig up the slides, they would have dates on them, but they are in boxes of 1000s. I am quite certain, though, that both of these pictures were taken in 1978.
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    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 13:09:42 (permalink)
    I've always loved that Ma Groovers photo - Ma looks perfect, the name of her restaurant sounds like someone trying to achieve that tongue-in-cheek new-old effect (but it's for real), I like how you shot from below... it was in A Taste of America, I think, and I wonder how many people were inspired to hit the road from just that photo.
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 13:10:54 (permalink)
    Wow!  I love hearing about some of the great Roadfood restaurants I missed.  Ma Groover just looks like someone who's food you would want to eat.  Considering this was 1978, did it take a lot of coaxing to get these people posing for photos?
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 14:40:21 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    Wow!  I love hearing about some of the great Roadfood restaurants I missed.  Ma Groover just looks like someone who's food you would want to eat.  Considering this was 1978, did it take a lot of coaxing to get these people posing for photos?

    Cliff, most of them just humored me, like I was a crazy person. Here, by the way, is Edna Kaplan serving her chili in Port Chester, New York, at Texas Lunch, the place now decorated with dollar-bill wallpaper and known as Hubba:
     

    post edited by Michael Stern - 2010/10/25 14:48:06
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    mayor al
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 18:01:36 (permalink)
    Michael,
     From that first Roadfood volume that altered my travel and eating habits beyond belief, The NAKED CITY CAFE in Indiana??? Try as I may, I simply cannot visualize the two of you sitting thru a typical RF review meal at that location!!! Got any photo-evidence??? 
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    mr chips
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 20:26:02 (permalink)
    Thanks for the photos, michael. i was travelling cross country in 1978 and wish i had known about your books then.
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    Greymo
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 20:47:26 (permalink)
    I just love these pictures  and  the memories of the places now gone.  Would you happen to have a picture of  Shirley's Dining Room.  Thit had  to be one of my  top  three breakfast restaurants.  I can still remember, in detail what  I had to eat the last time that I was there.
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    Foodbme
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/25 22:58:08 (permalink)
    I hope you've made plans to perserve your slides for posterity. Have you considered donating them to a Library, a Universitry, or a Museum? The Smithstonian Museum?? They're a priceless synopsis of Americana!
    post edited by Foodbme - 2010/10/25 22:59:46
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 03:33:25 (permalink)
    Greymo

    I just love these pictures  and  the memories of the places now gone.  Would you happen to have a picture of  Shirley's Dining Room.  Thit had  to be one of my  top  three breakfast restaurants.  I can still remember, in detail what  I had to eat the last time that I was there.


    Oh, Shirley's! That was one of my faves. I especially remember the wonderful toast made from big loaves of Shirley's bread. I did have pictures of it, but they were black-and-white. I haven't yet excavated beyond transparencies to negatives....
     
    Here is the late Lou Mitchell, offering arriving guests a bon bon:

     
    ...and here is Jane and an unidentified New Orleanean outside of the legendary Buster Holmes Restaurant, where red beans and rice ruled:

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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 05:26:58 (permalink)
    On the set of Good Morning, America, about 1980. The producers asked us to invite a couple of favorite Roadfood cooks. Here are Grace Proffit, who started the Ridgewood Barbecue in eastern Tennessee, back in the 1940s, and Nancy Aldrich, whose father, "Sugar Bill" Dexter, opened Polly's Pancake Parlor in 1938.

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 06:08:59 (permalink)
    Michael, those women look like they are seconds away from a fist fight!  How did they do on tv?  And there is so much to like about the Buster Holmes photo, but I love the sign saying "sofe drinks" and "good served". 
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    chewingthefat
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 12:44:40 (permalink)
    Michael, if I may be so bold to ask, do you have an alltime favorite Roadfood restaurant?
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    mar52
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 14:29:59 (permalink)
    I'm loving this thread.  It's nice to know that there are real people behind these Roadfood places.
     
     
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 14:50:15 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    Michael, those women look like they are seconds away from a fist fight!  How did they do on tv?  And there is so much to like about the Buster Holmes photo, but I love the sign saying "sofe drinks" and "good served". 


    You're right, Cliff, Grace and Nancy were such opposite people: a good ol' Southern gal and a rockribbed Yankee. They were polite with each other, but I recall that neither did all that well on camera: they were too modest and dignified for a medium that loves swagger and braggadocio.
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 14:54:29 (permalink)
    chewingthefat

    Michael, if I may be so bold to ask, do you have an alltime favorite Roadfood restaurant?


    No.
     
    I don't think I could name my alltime favorite 100 Roadfood restaurants! If I did, I guarantee I would be waking up all night recalling ones that should have made the cut.
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 15:03:09 (permalink)
    OK, one more for today. Then I've got to get to work!
    Former New Hampshire Governor Meldrim Thompson went back to farming after holding office. When we happened upon his place one Spring day in the late 1970s, he gave us a primer in maple syrup making, processing, and enjoying, all accompanied by cider donuts (which his adorable fat old dog enjoyed nearly as much as we).
     

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    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 15:40:10 (permalink)
    Mt. Cube Farm!  I loved that place.  We were eating pancakes there as the governor was walking around with a mock scowl on his face, saying hello to folks.  We were still new at Roadfooding and, to be honest, he frightened us a little!  After breakfast, his daughter Muffin showed us around and talked with us for an hour or two.  She was such a sweetheart.  For years afterwards we ordered all our maple products from Mt. Cube, and sent boxes as gifts - they always put the orders together so beautifully, with fresh evergreen branches and personalized notes.
     
    Somehow, we lost track of them.  I think Mt. Cube stopped serving breakfast and stopped taking mail-orders, and I thought I heard that Muffin and her husband hit the road to do missionary work.
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 16:10:45 (permalink)
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

    Mt. Cube Farm!  I loved that place.  We were eating pancakes there as the governor was walking around with a mock scowl on his face, saying hello to folks.  We were still new at Roadfooding and, to be honest, he frightened us a little!  After breakfast, his daughter Muffin showed us around and talked with us for an hour or two.  She was such a sweetheart.  For years afterwards we ordered all our maple products from Mt. Cube, and sent boxes as gifts - they always put the orders together so beautifully, with fresh evergreen branches and personalized notes.

    Somehow, we lost track of them.  I think Mt. Cube stopped serving breakfast and stopped taking mail-orders, and I thought I heard that Muffin and her husband hit the road to do missionary work.

     
    A lot of those really unique sugar houses stopped serving breakfast, especially the ones who just did it for a few weeks a year. One place we loved in Ashfield, MA told me it was too hard to find help and the health department was demanding all sorts of restaurant grade equipment. They just couldn't justify the expense.
     
    As an aside, I can't help but notice that in the artist's rendering of Ma Groover just above her real self, it almost looks as if she is brandishing a pistol.
     
    Great pictures and stories. Thank you for sharing and looking forward to more.
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    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/26 16:22:47 (permalink)
    Tony Bad

    As an aside, I can't help but notice that in the artist's rendering of Ma Groover just above her real self, it almost looks as if she is brandishing a pistol.

    You're right, Tony!  On reflection I'm guessing it's supposed to be a skillet, not a threat.
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/27 03:46:50 (permalink)
    Koerner's-A-Lunch in Rhode Island is where we learned about coffee cabinets. I do not recall the name of this gent behind the counter; but I do remember that even in the late 1970s, the meal prices posted behind him were extraordinarily low:


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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/28 08:14:38 (permalink)
    Hatch, New Mexico, in the early 1990s. The annual chile festival crowns two queens: one green, one red:

     
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/28 10:14:37 (permalink)
    Oh, what a great photo!  I love that they have both a Miss Green Chile and a Miss Red Chile.  How do they decide which gets which?  Whether they have a red or green dress?  And I think Miss Red Chile should be a redhead.
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    sk bob
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/28 22:28:01 (permalink)
    great pictures Michael, thanks.
    the first few from the '70's were great.
    what do you see in those pictures that you don't see anymore?
    anybody notice?
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/29 07:49:51 (permalink)
    Who remembers these nice folks, Ferris Dove (Roaring Bull) and Eleanor Dove (Princess Pretty Flower) of the Dovecrest Indian Restaurant in Exeter, Rhode Island? They served authentic Native-American game dishes and wonderful silver-dollar-size jonnycakes.

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    susanll
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/29 09:19:03 (permalink)
    sk bob

    great pictures Michael, thanks.
    the first few from the '70's were great.
    what do you see in those pictures that you don't see anymore?
    anybody notice?

    Phone booths and aprons?
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/29 10:29:49 (permalink)
    Or the ashtray?
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/29 15:46:54 (permalink)
    No tatoos or piercings...
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Multiple Trips Report 2010/10/31 07:34:22 (permalink)
    The beloved Doodle, which closed just as our book 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late was published.  It was a New Haven institution that one assumed never would close (like the late, lamented George & Harry's). The Pig-in-a-Blanket write-up for 500 Things that we had to excise follows the photo.

     
    Having spent a few very happy years living one block away from the Doodle, a mere whiff of this old greasy spoon is, for us, like Marcel Proust coming across a carton of madeleines at his local Costco. Everything good at Yankee Doodle Sandwich Shop spends time on the griddle: bacon, eggs, hamburgers, even a New Haven notoriety known as a grilled donut, which is an ordinary sinker sliced in half, buttered and then grilled to a crisp. We love Yankee Doodle's hamburgers, especially the Dandy Doodle Double-Double Cheeseburger, on a hard roll with lettuce and tomato, onions, and bacon and always an extra pat of butter melting on the top half of the bun; but the item that won our hearts at the counter of this fast-food beacon just off the Yale campus is the Yankee Doodle Pig in a Blanket. We were first attracted to it by a sign above the counter that described the ingredients – a frankfurter, melted cheese, bacon and barbecue sauce, the sign concluding with the directive: "YOU WILL HAVE MORE!"
     
                Here is how a pig is made: a blubbery little frankfurter is slit and stuffed with cheese, then wrapped with bacon and cooked on the griddle until the dog blisters, the cheese melts, and the bacon is crisp. The Sunday-go-to-Meeting tube steak is slapped into a toasted and buttered bun and sold for a couple of dollars. We won't tell you it is the greatest hot dog known to mankind, nor even in the top ten; but no American eater's life can be considered well-lived if it lacks the experience of sitting at the Yankee Doodle counter and ingesting a brace of pigs.
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