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We all mourn the lost of certain things, for example I mourn the loss of some of my beloved hair , the ability to party all night, and patience with children. I mourn the loss of good, well written television (despite the current writers’ misguided belief that they are indispensable). I mourn the loss of my love of travel, the thrill that I got getting my gear together and putting on my travelling clothes, the excitement I got waiting at airports and train stations.

I mourn the world’s general loss of innocence, humanity’s seeming loss of respect for others and world leaders’ loss of their grip on reality (ok, that one is really just Dubya). I mourn the loss of well made, easy to fix cars, being able to find a seat on a train, being able to find a seat on a train without some asswipe with an iPod who thinks I’ll like their music as much as they do, being able to find a seat anywhere without having to deal with some ignorant, lowlife piece of shit with a mobile phone who thinks I’m interested in hearing their conversation.

I mourn the loss of my ability to deal with life’s little annoyances without going ballistic. I mourn the loss of not being able to sit down anywhere in my own house without having to move an animal first (I know I could fix that, but I also mourn my loss of motivation).

But most of all, I mourn the loss of Diners, those funny looking, almost extinct American institutions, I’ve been lucky enough to eat in a few of them, and it’s always a great experience. While it’s convenient to say that it’s simply and evolutionary thing, and we must move with the times, I lay the blame firmly at the base of the golden arches, and our willingness to accept reconstituted dog shit as food instead of insisting on quality. Are we all such impatient, cheap bastards that we can wait for our food to be cooked and then pay a fair price for it?

Anyway, what’s the point? Well funny I should ask, the point is that I stumbled upon a clip I enjoyed the other day. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I’d like to share it with you, it’s a tribute to Diners. I hope you like it too…


The song may be familiar to you, it’s by Martin Sexton and originally came to notice in a Scrubs compilation scene. It you’d prefer that instead, it’s here.

PS. I wouldn’t mourn the loss of a few kilos.

Updated** Here’s the lyrics in case you’re interested…

You might have seen one out in Minnesota
Or maybe down by the sea in Sarasota
But they were made back in Worcester Mass
Of aluminum and Bakelite and glass

Like a locomotive they were streamlines
And the blue prints were drawn up from a dream of mine
Slap ’em up put ’em on the train
Out to Michigan up to Maine

You may find a diner down in Georgia or
Carolina off the twenty by the Piggly Wiggly
In the country out of Waynesboro

Or when it’s getting late and rainy out in New York State
You hang a louie off the thru-way
And you go and grab yourself a cheeseburger
At the little gem diner off the six niner

Diner my shiny shiny love
In the night you’re all I’m thinking of
Diner my shiny shiny love

The cruiser pulls in where the trooper’s always stop
As we dine over the chrome and formica table top

The cashier she always squints
By the gum and the bowl of mints
She’s tapping her toe
To the Dean Martin on the consolette
Booth service and a cigarette we’re loving it so

Side of fries a dollar
Or the haddock plate two ninety five
A rootbeer float a pepsi
And be sure to save some room for some apple pie
Better make it a-la-mode


Dean Martin god rest his soul
Talkin’ to me from the cereal bowl
There’s a couple from the show me state
Knockin’ back a little meatloaf plate
Diner my shiny shiny love.



27 Responses

  1. That was a nice trip down memory lane. My favorite diner in Tulsa closed last year. I’ll miss it. There is a wonderful place in my little hometown, though, that’s been there as long as I can remember. My great grandmother did some of the cooking and baking there, though long before I was born. It’s more of a cafe than a diner, but just because it’s large. The lunch counter is in that old diner style. For some reason, I’m craving onion rings and cream gravy.

    It’s called the Bliss Cafe. Isn’t that the best name?

  2. i love diners. i still eat in them, whenever we get a chance, when we’re on the road. you find them in the oddest places, too. there’s one on I-35 on the way to Duluth; it’s attached to a gas station and you would never think to stop there if you didn’t already know that they have the best chicken soup you’ve ever tasted.

    and there’s an oddball little place on Snelling Avenue in Roseville–sandwiched between a gigantic mall and a Room and Board furniture store. just a goofy little place that makes great broasted chicken (is “broasted” just a minnesota term? or does everyone know what that means?) and really, really good onion rings.

    yep. diner food. i love it.

    the rest of the stuff you mourn? i won’t admit it. i don’t want to sound as curmudgeonly as you.

  3. I miss diners too. Never been too keen on those golden arches though, but you are right; that give to me right now mentality has done us all in. Strange, but I think I’d like some meatloaf and mashed potatoes right about now…….

  4. (*sniff*) Now there you went goin’ all sentimental on me. Awwww, shucks.

    Anybody got any meatloaf?

    Interestingly, one of our local universities is building an old fashioned diner on their campus. It’s very retro-looking so far. I wonder if they’ll have a rough waitress in a hair net that smells of week-old grease.

    Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

  5. I so hear you, WT. 😉

  6. BRILLIANT post, WT! In one of his books, Bill Bryson too laments the loss of this great American institution.

    We do NOT support the golden arches!! (nasty, unfun parents that we are … but our kids don’t know what’s in there so they don’t complain anyway!)

  7. Melissa – It’s funny, but this was almost a ‘stream of consciousness’ post. All I had was the clip that I wanted to share, but it looked so lonely I thought I’d put in a few words, and they just came to me.

    I’ve never read Bill Bryson, but I do admire him. Oh, and I’ve seen a couple of his shows on TV, plus a bunch of his interviews (which I always find interesting).

  8. lol.. We have the drive ins .. Sonic and women on rollar skates… and other oldies like A & W.

    They closed my favorite ( although it was really in a bar .. one of the oldest bar and cafe’s in MT ) down a couple years ago… but they wrapped your to go order in brown paper. Sometimes when I’m traveling I see the retro diners.. and a few originals!

    Some of my family in Michigan broasts chickens and such, Laurie.. maybe it’s a Yankee term… lol.. ok.. Northerner.

    Thanks for the fabulously fun post Peter!

  9. Go to Jersey. Swear to GOD, there are diners everywhere. Good ones. With malts and vanilla cherry Cokes and big ass burgers.

  10. Martin Sexton! Yahoo! What a great guy. Dilling (you will remember me mentioning her on Musicana) turned me on to him awhile back. I have since picked up two of his CD’s and they are both outstanding!

    As for Diner’s, sadly those that were in our area are now a figment of our imagination. I remember an interesting movie awhile back entitled Diner, with Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern and Steve Guttenberg and some other, then, up and comings – early 80’s.

    Great post, WT!

  11. Laurie, you can buy broasted chicken all over Oklahoma. They sell it with these wonderful seasoned potato wedges, and usually there are other things like deep fried mushrooms, or corn dogs, or egg rolls. Here it’s usually sold in convenience stores more so than diners or cafes.

    WT, did I tell you that I laughed out loud and almost spit soda all over my keyboard over your “Pat the Bunny” comment? You’re lucky you don’t owe me a keyboard!

  12. Why do I have the sneaky suspicion that you don’t really mourn all of those things?? hmmm?
    Oh, yeah, I have a fridge magnet with your new subheading!!

  13. We have some American diners in the UK. I remember Sam taking me to one in London back in the 80’s ( can’t remember the name of it. We also visited a good one when we were in Orlando~ name also escapes me~ what is is to get old and forgetful!!

  14. I loved that clip, and thank you for posting the lyrics. You know what a lyrics freak I am.

    And diners aren’t totally dead. There’s a show on Food Network here called “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, dedidcated to seeking out those culinarily delightful places. Diners may not be ubiquitous anymore, but if you look for them, you can find them. Great place for breakfast. I never got bad eggs at a diner.

    As for the rest of your old-man crochety post, you can take my iPod when you pry it from my cold dead hands. (Which might happen, if you were around.)

  15. That was an interesting clip and it brought back a lot of memories. I still remember the little diner in New Jersey that my Pop used to take me to when I was a little girl. I loved to sit up at the counter and spin around on the barstools. It was one of the shiny,, streamlined diners talked about in this song.

    I believe there is still one in northeast Wichita. My mom used to live near it and often took the kids there. There are several others old fashioned diners around town, but I don’t think any other metal ones. Some have been in business since the 40s or 50s. There is one that was built in the 90s to look like a 50s diner inside and out, right down to the waitresses uniforms and menu items.

    If it weren’t so nasty out right now (2 hour delay for school even), I think I’d take Na into town for a diner breakfast. Someday soon I’d like to take a cross country trip and not be in a hurry to get anywhere. I’d stop at only small local restaurants and skip the fast food chains.

  16. I can remember balancing myself on a stainless steel bar stool covered in red naugahyde eating chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy with my mom and dad. Nothin’ like it.
    One question: Wonder how many naugas they had to kill to cover all those red bar stools?

    Great post that brought back many wonderful memories. Love the song. It is now playing in my head…over, and over, and over.

    I have to go change the light bulb, replace the empty toilet paper roll, and take out the trash, or I would continue with this comment.

    “Suck it up?”

    Shut up, DubYaT !

  17. Great post, WT! Jen beat me to it – telling you about the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The closest thing we have here is Waffle House. Not much on ambience (unless you favor the tattooed, toothless, and smoke-wreathed) but the hashbrowns are to die for!

    Thanks for this. Great song, too.

    I’m gonna go dig out a Dean Martin record and fry up something.

  18. I always try and go to the local Cafe for a sit-down meal, whenever I’m car-travelling here in NSW… bugger Archies and the like. At least at the local Cafe you know the person who owns the place will have cooked the food for you with their own hands. And you can always get a decent friendly chatty conversation in as well.

    Gotta love those little rural town stopovers. I guess the “Cafe” is the Aussie version of the diner? I dunno! Maybe they were those old Golden Fleece Resteraunts at Truck Stop sevos? How’s that for a memory? heh heh

    Mal 🙂

  19. if you come visit me hubby and I will take you to the Long Branch in Weston Oregon.
    Now I must continue to contemplate Sinatra.

  20. I love diners too. We never eat at McDonald’s. We always look for the quaint little places when we travel.

  21. Well, now….this is unexpected coming from you. All that weepin’ and gnashin’ of teeth over loss? I just didn’t realize that’s what I’d be getting at the Dingo today.

    But………..it was nice. Veddy, veddy nice. I’m a fan of the diner, too…there’s something wonderfully kitschy about a place like that….

    Man, I’m craving a burger, fries and a Fountain Coke right now.

    (p.s. Your tagline cracked me up…they always do and it’s the first time I noticed a different one in a while.)

  22. I LOVE diners!!! Mashed potatoes and Meatloag…Cherry Cokes! Can’t beat ’em…check your mail, I’ve sent you a pic of the one closest to me. GREAT post!!

  23. We have a chain popping up called “Silver Diner”. the restaurant is all shiny and silver with the little jukebox on the table. Buuut. It’s not diner food really and the service comes from the same stock that work at McDs…sadly.

    I know what you mean.

  24. Great post! I love eating at Diners too! Now I am hungry to go eat at one!

  25. We still have diners here in Wisconsin! They are especially popular during summer months. Most are closed during winter.

    We enjoyed one in a 1950’s theme when we were in Maui. Very fun.

    Glad you included the lyrics, or I’d have been clueless as to what was being sung!

  26. Excellent post and oh so true. Gregg and I have a favorite diner we go to for breakfast whenever he’s home and it’s great. I’m going to be thinking of this song the next time we go now.

  27. “Diners”?? mm, i mourn the transformation of the English language. “Hi. Ya wanna Coke ‘n’ fries?” .. or is this post prompted by the loss of an eccentric café by the roadside??

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