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Recap of Diner History in Westfield, and some new discoveries

Buzzings from BeeLines

June 28, 2011
By Marybelle Beigh, CurrentWestfield Historian
The First Annual Roadside Day on Historic Route 20 on June 18, 2011, is now history. Mike Engle, diner historian and organizer of the event, arrived at Parkview Ice Cream Parlor and Soda Fountain Cafe, which is also the Westfield Historian Office, at 3 East Main Street at 10:30 a.m., to report, sadly, that no one showed up for the mini diner tour. The diner tour was to have started at Silver Creek at Steve’s Diner Museum at 9 a.m., with book signings there and at two other diner stops — Brocton’s Green Arch, and Mayville’s Bo’n’ar Diner — before arriving at Main Diner at noon here in Westfield.

The event locations here in Westfield — Main Diner, Eason Hall, and Parkview Cafe and History Bookstore — were gaily decorated with colorful balloons and Engle set up under a tent outdoors for the book signing at Main Diner at noon with books to sell, photo albums and posters of the various historic diners and manufactories in the area. At 2:30 p.m., Eason Hall hosted a delightful poetry reading by Sara Ries, whose parents own and operate the Woodlawn Diner in Blasdell, from her book of poetry about that diner, “Come In, We’re Open.” Additionally, a short video “20 West” narrated by Mac Nelson, author of a book of the same title, was shown.

With the internet not accessible at Eason Hall for the showing of another video about historic Route 20 and a PowerPoint presentation recapping the diner history in Westfield as researched by Engle and Marybelle Beigh, the equipment and attendees moved to Parkview for the conclusion of the event and sales of books about diners, historic Route 20 and ice cream treats.

Recap of diners once located in Westfield noted the early 1900’s lunch cars — Closson Lunch Wagon factory (1912), Bancroft Lunch Car (1916), Earl B Richardson’s first lunch wagon (1909), and a mystery lunch car shaped structure on the northwest corner of Main and Portage (1912 Sanborn Map).

The “first” diner in Westfield, as remembered and pictured (interior) in last week’s BeeLines, Merry-Guest Diner and later called Westfield Diner or Stafford’s Diner or Stafford’s Lunch, is believed to have been a Richardson, from about 1924, located on the south side of Main Street about where Key Bank is now.

Another “history mystery” diner, Elk’s Diner, was described as being known only from an article found in the September 1, 1933 Grape Belt newspaper and republished in the September 6, 1933, Westfield Republican. The headline reads, “STOPS ‘DOG WAGON’ GOING TO WESTFIELD” and states that, “Elks’ Diner, owned by Ward and Dickinson, of Silver Creek, N.Y., was about to be hauled out on wheels for removal to Westfield when Phillips [Erie PA City Treasurer] stepped in with Constable Heisler. An attachment was placed on the diner for four years’ taxes due the city. Then, to end the story happily, the money was graciously paid, and the diner continued on its merry way.”

While researching for the above article in the Republican, efforts were made to locate any later mention of a new diner in Westfield between September 1933 and September 1934 when the Main Diner and the Mead Diner were brought to Westfield. Another “history mystery” lunch car was discovered in addition to Stafford’s Lunch in a November 1, 1933 full-page display of Westfield merchants who had pledged support of President Roosevelt’s recovery efforts through membership in the NRA – “HOUTZ – HOVEY Lunch Car.”

Any reader having information, photos, or postcards depicting or describing either the Houtz-Hovey Lunch Car or the Elks’ Diner from 1933-1934 in Westfield, contact the Westfield Historian and 397-9254 or . Thank you.

Returning to the activities of Roadside Day 2011 featuring historic diners along Route 20, the Recap of Westfield Diners presentation recalled the Modern Club Diner at Elm and Main prior to the Main Diner, the Elk Diner described above, the Main Diner also called Wright’s Diner, Black and White Diner, and Pat Park’s Diner, Mead’s Modern Diner at Union and Mai, the Starlite Diner, and Bradley/Beacon Diner on West Main, now parking lot of Grape Heritage Center. The Hilton Diner and a couple other diners were mentioned because Westfield people had family connections with them.

After the Roadside Day was over, Engle and Beigh took a field trip to see and photograph some historic diner memorabilia, but those photos and discussion will be the subject of a future BeeLines story.

Marybelle Beigh is the current Westfield Historian and her office is in the Parkview Ice Cream Parlor at 3 East Main Street in Westfield NY. She can be contacted by phone at 397-9254, or via email at westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net'>westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
In this photograph taken by Bill Locke at the Main Diner during Roadside Day in the afternoon on June 18, Mike Engle signs a copy of his book, “Diners of New York” book for lucky fan Pat Locke.

 
 
 

 

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