Diners are pure Americana. They're recognized as national icons, of sorts, and two cities that I frequent played special roles in their history. Providence, Rhode Island, where I teach, is credited as the birthplace of the diner, where, in 1872, they started as horse-drawn carriages. Worcester, Massachusetts, where my son goes to college (at Clark University) is where, in 1887, Thomas Buckley started building them for distribution.
Dropping off my son at school recently, I visited the spot where, in 1906, two men by the names of Duprey and Staddard started the Worcester Lunch Car Company—creators of the famous domed diners that we see a lot of throughout the northeast United States. Other manufacturers throughout the country followed.
While my intention was to draw the 1947 classic "Miss Worcester Diner," which sits across the street from where the Worcester Lunch Car Company existed, things didn't work out as planned. So instead, I drew around the corner, at the younger, steel-clad "Corner Lunch" diner. It was built in 1955 in New Rochelle, New York, by the DeRaffele Diner Company and was brought to Worcester in 1968. Both the Miss Worcester and the Corner Lunch are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Because it was late on a Sunday, the Corner Lunch was closed. So, the diner and I sat alone together on a quiet corner, in this scrappy town. On that afternoon, I was the only admirer of this humble, but beautifully-preserved icon of American culture.