Back on December 4, 2010, one of my customers, I’ll call him “Joe” as he does like his coffee, upon hearing about the “History of Westfield Diners” series in BeeLines, shared with me a fascinating tale about his own experiences with a local diner.
The gist of his story is that, when Joe mustered out of the Navy after the end of WWII in 1946, he was casting about for something to do, and he saw a lonely diner — for sale? — sitting in a ball field in Corry, Pa. So he tracked down the owner and bought it from him. In order to move it, he talked to a buddy at the Ford dealership in Sherman, where they were both living at that time, who provided four motor-vehicle tires, which he mounted on the diner.
When Joe let the diner down off jacks onto the tires, all four tires popped. So another buddy of his offered to move it to Sherman in pieces. As he recalled, they cut the diner into four pieces and it was moved, blocking Main Street in Sherman for many hours until they got it onto the property. The lot where it was placed had a steep drop of about 12 feet lower than the street, and was situated next to the Ford dealership building, so they had to put the diner on stilts that involved obtaining some old railroad ties and rails for free to which they welded the diner.
Knowing nothing about how to operate a diner, Joe partnered with an old buddy of his from before the war to “do the diner,” and they got it up and running in about six weeks as the Main Street Diner.
The story gets complicated after this, as neither partner expected the sort of work entailed in operating a successful diner. But as luck would have it, the buddy’s sister had a knack for cooking and serving the down-home foods that diner customers wanted, so the diner flourished. And the sister’s husband, who worked at G.E. in Erie after the war, also helped evenings by washing dishes for free. Soon the buddy sold out his interest to Joe and within a year or so, the diner again changed ownership.
Never having seen any diner in Sherman, I asked Joe if it was still there somewhere, and he shook his head, “No”, saying that they’d “tore it down,” but couldn’t remember when. With no names to go on, just the story above, I contacted Mike Engle to ask if he’d ever heard of a diner in Sherman. Mike replied, “I have never heard about this diner. There was a diner in Corry, a Mulholland [made in] (Dunkirk) … [listed] in the 1939-1943 city directories, but not … 1957.”
So I was off to the library to look in their archived phone directories 1961 to present, and on Dec. 4, I located an Aggie’s Diner in Sherman in the 1961 directory. From 1962 through 1971, which is as far as I researched), there was only an Aggie’s Restaurant, and no other diners.
Later that night, I did some Ancestry.com research, found the family names for Aggie’s Diner — Felix and Agnes Pulinski — and noted that Aggie is dead, but her brother and possibly her husband are still alive. Apparently Aggie’s brother was the partner with Joe in bringing the diner from Corry to Sherman, as Joe did buy out the brother’s interest in the diner, but hired Aggie, the sister, to run the diner, which she did for many years.
When I told my mother the name of the diner and the later restaurant was Aggie’s, she remembered eating at each of those establishments when she taught in Sherman and during later visits to Sherman.
On Dec. 5, 2011, I contacted a friend who lived for many years in Sherman, and he confirmed the names of the family that ran the diner in Sherman. A quick search of the phone book located Pulinski, and my friend immediately visited Pulinski, who showed my friend a small 2”x2” photo of the diner, saying he had a larger photo, and describing the diner’s location.
Later yet on Dec. 5, I phoned Felix Pulinski, who was the last person to own the diner with his wife, Agnes, from 1955 to 1962, before I had to be torn down. Pulinski said he built a new restaurant in another location, in 1962, since the land where the diner was located was leased from the Ford Dealership, and the proprietor needed the property for his business. Pulinski confirmed the date in 1946 that the diner was brought to Sherman and put into operation by Joe and Aggie’s brother, and that the partnership between them had fallen apart. He explained that from 1947 to 1955 the diner was sold and resold to several different owners before he and his wife purchased it, but that his wife, Agnes, had done all the cooking from the beginning.
After our phone conversation, Pulinski agreed to meet with me in person so that I could interview him further, and he would dig out more photos for me to borrow and scan for my files. It being the middle of winter, we agreed to postpone the meeting until fair weather, and until other circumstances were more favorable.
The meeting finally took place during the second week of June 2011, when a sprightly elderly gentleman came into my historian office in Parkview Ice Cream Parlor, with a twinkle in his eye, and I thought I recognized him from a photo of the Memorial Day Celebration in Sherman in the June 9 issue of The Westfield Republican. He asked to speak with Marybelle, and I identified myself and asked if he was possibly from Sherman, and he smiled and handed me a 5”x7” photo of Aggie’s Diner with Aggie herself in front, and the date of 1955 on the back, indicating when Felix and Agnes had just recently purchased the diner.
Pulinski and I met at his residence in Sherman, and he shared more photos with me, and added some more details and stories about the days of Aggie’s Diner and Aggie’s Restaurant. One fascinating item is that when the new restaurant building was completed, Felix and Aggie finished the last day and evening at the diner, spent the night moving necessary items into the restaurant, and opened Aggie’s Restaurant the next morning.
Pulinski also showed me the site where the diner had been, and shared another interesting bit of information regarding the location of the later Aggie’s Restaurant. The restaurant building Pulinski built in 1962 is now the Sherman office of the Westfield Family Physicians, and Pulinski and I both have the same doctor at that office.
Enjoy the photos of Aggie’s Diner printed with this BeeLines article, and if you have further stories to share, please contact Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Historian.
Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
Aggie Pulinski stands in front of Aggie’s Diner after she purchased it with her husband, Felix, around 1955.