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The Salem Diner

I love a good diner.  I always have. When I was little my Grandmother's sister and her friends owned a diner..It was always so much fun spending time there.  Fortunately for me, my friend Dina, loves a good diner also.  So often when we go out on our Friday morning jaunts, we might end up in a diner if we come across one.  This diner though, is special for so many reasons and I was just beside myself to be there.  I was amazed at how many memories it stirred up for me and how nostalgic it was. Truth be told, I should have been to this one a very long time ago..but another truth, I'm so happy we were there on this day.

The Salem Diner is a historic Sterling Streamliner diner. It's one of only two Sterling Streamliners left in New England, The other Sterling is in Rhode Island.  Sterling Streamliners were made by the J.B. Judkins Company of Merrimac, MA. They built diners from 1936 to 1942. It sits on it's original site on Loring Ave...just across from Salem State College.  I was born and brought up in Salem, but until Dina and I went there a few weeks ago, I had never been inside this diner.  After eating there and meeting the people, I must add it to my list of "should have done this sooner"...but then again, thankfully we made it before it was knocked down or fell down because it was really old in there but I was just so happy to be there.  

So here it is in all it's turquoise and pink. Oh my, right out of the fifties. Everything and I mean everything, from the ceiling to the lights, the swivel counter stools, the counter itself and of course the booths.  I'm not sure about the grill but I'll check that out the next time.  For a full five minutes, I couldn't stop looking around and taking it all in.  Do you know how rare this is, to find a piece of history still intact, and I was just so giddy about the color.  

So here we are in the only booth left.  I'm so happy we got this booth.  We are actually sitting in the front of the Streamliner. Our table is in the middle of the front end, hence the shape. So there we sat, next to each other, the perfect spot for great people watching, counter talking and dishes flying out from the kitchen and grill.  Check out the curtains, they look pretty original.  Well, I did check out the curtains and it was pretty sketchy up there.  I told Dina to have a look.  We could see daylight and a few other things we didn't recognize...LOL, so we just looked ahead.  We both had the homemade hash with eggs and it came with all the fixings...and my, my, it was so good.  We both got the clean plate award.



Check out the menu...the prices are very good for all that food.  I think we walked out of there for $20.00 and that included a good tip.  Honestly, the menu design is straight from the 50/60's also.  I wanted to take one home for old times sake but Dina wouldn't let me...

It was a special morning at the diner and although we were fascinated by the vintage feel of the place, there was also a sense of today there that you would not have found in the 60's. Kids still playing with their I-phones, and a take out order waiting to be picked up.  You can hold on to the past but the here and now is always present, as it should be I guess.  For me though, I loved being in a place that brought back the excitement of my youth, my high school years and talking to people who sat so close to us, eating their breakfast also and sharing our stories from the past.  

So you might ask, why was this my first trip here.  Why didn't we hang out here when we were young and this lovely diner was new.  It's simple, we had no car and we had no money.  This was not within walking distance to my house or my life.  It was very much out of the way.  Mostly though, back in my younger days, not many "regular people" went out for breakfast. Actually, we didn't go out to eat very much at all.  Only on special occasions.  As I look back now, I wonder where my Mom even got the money for those special dinners...that were eaten at noon time. By the way, noon time was dinner, five o'clock was supper.  Hmm, I wonder when that changed.  See what I mean, it brings back so much.  Even still, the times we did go out were lovely and remembered, even today.  Today, kids go out so much it's not special to them at all.  More routine.

So that's my story for today...What I know for sure is, I will go back.  I have to take Jim.  We will have a great breakfast and I know we will spend our time there sharing old stories..only the stories that him and I will understand and laugh about. I hope we get to sit in the same booth that Dina and I did.  If not for Yankee magazine last month I might not have made it here but I did and it was a wonderful trip down memory thing though, I do wish they had donuts and desserts.  No Pie.  Desserts are usually a highlight at most diners.  I'm not going to tell them that though...


"A poet could write volumes about diners, because they're so beautiful. They're brightly lit, with chrome and booths and Naugahyde and great waitresses. Now, it might not be so great in the health department, but I think diner food is really worth experiencing periodically."

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Reader Comments (11)

I just love these places, Cheryl.
A couple of weeks ago, when I was in Boston, we went to a diner called Victoria's, in Dorchester for Sunday morning breakfast.
My son warned me that the area it was in, was not the "best," but said the breakfast would well make up for the scenery.
He was right on both accounts!
You sure got some wonderful photos here.
Thank you for sharing.

February 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Gordon

Thank you Lisa for your lovely comment and for stopping by. That's the way with Diner's, they are never in the best part of town. Most always were people who can afford them, can go. That's what gives them there charm...well that and the good cooking...

February 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

What a gem you discovered! Nothing beats diner food and that wonderful retro look you captured so beautifully. Looks like my kind of place...but I am really surprised that there was no pie :(

February 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

I know Susan...they really do need pie or a good coconut cake. Do you like coconut cake. If you do, the next time you come my way, I'll take you to Gloucester for coconut cake and rum raisin ice cream...just awesome...Maybe there is a diner between us where we could meet sometime...we'll have to check that out..

February 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

LOVE diners!!!!! With Richard from NJ and me from PA, we always get so nostalgic in these places! You mentioned a "Sterling" diner in RI . . . I'm wondering what city it is in? We've been to two FABULOUS diners in RI . . . one in Pawtucket and the other in East Greenwich! The latter one was really expensive! The Pawtucket one had amazing food and had been voted one of the best on some food network! I must have some shots somewhere on my stream!! Here's to Coconut Cream Pie! I have to really watch my sugar, so can't indulge much anymore, but I can dream, and always have a nibble! I love those "dessert turn styles" which I associate with all diners! Have you ever been to Moody's in Maine? We stopped there on our last trip!

February 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAntoinette

Pawtucket Rhode Island is where the other Sterling Streamliner is Antoinette. Maybe that's not to far from you..We also love a good diner and yes, we have been to Moody's in Maine many times...I love their Walnut Cream Pie. I even bought their cook-book. Here, at the Agawam Diner in Rowley, I love the coconut cream good. It was so strange though that this diner did not have any desserts. Of course after that big breakfast we didn't need any desserts...It was a fun day. Let me know if you make your way to the one in Rhode Island...

February 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterCheryl Crotty

I remember having lunch "out" just once as a child. My dad took my brother and me out, and we had hamburgers and chocolate malts. The malt was Dad's suggestion - I'd never even heard of one before. In the 60's (as I got into my teens), fast food places began to emerge. Kentucky Fried Chicken is the first I remember - we got take-out there a couple of times. A McDonald's opened at the edge of town, though I never went there. We mostly cruised the main drag and frequented a drive-in coffee shop at one end of it. But when I was growing up, we always ate at home except for lunch at the school cafeteria, and that was it. Now? I do love diners. It's sort of a "Happy Days" nostalgia thing, I guess, rather than a return to anything I ever experienced in my younger days.

March 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLeón

Love the look of the place. There are actually two diners like that on Cape Cod not too far from my house. I have never ventured into them but they always look intriguing and the parking lots are always full!

March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Thomas

It looks like you stepped back in time! I love the colors. I can't believe the chairs and booths are in such good shape. A pie would look great on their counter under a glass dome. You are right about kids today eating out more and there isn't anything special about it. I can remember when I was little and it was a very special treat when we got to pick out where to eat out our birthday dinner. You found a winner. :)

March 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

I love these diners. I always have mixed emotions when I see one. I feel a sense of loss that most of them are gone but so glad some of them remain and are still blessing their patrons.

March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Thank you Lynn for your visit and for your lovely comment.. If you are new here, welcome and please come again...

March 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl c.

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