The outrage of a new menu

Today’s Zippy takes us to the banks of the Connecticut River in Chicopee MA, to a historic diner, and to the bizarre foods that Zippy fancies:

(#1) If you’re Zippy, everything goes better with a dollop of Valvoline on it — and, maybe, some canned beets:


Zippy and Gladys are in Al’s Diner, a well-known feature of Chicopee, a northern industrial city that took advantage of the falls on the Connecticut to drive mills — which then entangled the place in the slave economy of the early 18th century.

The diner in its current incarnation, complete with its famous meat pie to take home:

(#3) (Alas, Sweeney Todd long ago made the idea of meat pies somewhat uncomfortable for me; I have no such reservations about canned sliced beets, however — but hold the Cool Whip, please)

Al’s Diner is a historic diner at 14 Yelle Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts. It was, at the time of its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, one of only of two diners in Massachusetts built by Master Diners of New Jersey, which operated from 1940 to the 1970s. The diner was brought to Chicopee in 1958, and has been known variously as Al’s Diner, Al’s Restaurant, and The White Diner. Until 1983 Al’s Diner was a 24-hour operation; the diner presently serves breakfast and lunch, with limited dinner hours on Thursdays and Fridays.  (Wikipedia link)

And on Chicopee, also from Wikipedia (crucial bit boldfaced):

Chicopee is a city located on the Connecticut River in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States of America. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 55,298

… In 1823, Jonathan Dwight purchased the water privilege at Skenungonuck Falls in Chicopee. He built a textile mill and five years later, it operated 14,000 spindles and nearly 500 looms, making it the second-largest operation in the state. It processed cotton from the Deep South, becoming part of the extended slave economy and King Cotton.

… Chicopee’s industries included cotton mills, woolen mills, textiles, brass and iron foundries, paper making, footwear factories, for leather boots and shoes, the first lucifer matches, and ship building [also bicycles] . In nearby South Hadley Canal, the firearms company Crescent-Davis specialized in producing double-barrel shotguns.

The far-flung consequences of American chattel slavery have been much on my mind recently, thanks to an astonishing NYT Magazine special issue “1619” (on-line 8/14, in print 8/18), on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the August 1619 arrival in America of the first enslaved people from West Africa. I’ll post on the NYT‘s project separately, noting here only that it moved me to pursue the story of the Wyomissing Industries in Wyomissing PA, which loomed hugely in my early life (and in my father’s life, and his father’s life at the Textile Machine Works in Wyomissing), and that took me to recollections of the summer of 1961 in Wyomissing and to the re-kindling of an old friendship. A topic for another posting to come.

4 Responses to “The outrage of a new menu”

  1. Max Vasilatos Says:

    Reminds me, I lived around the corner from Miss Florence’s Diner at one time:

  2. Max Vasilatos Says:

    brought up the pictures-in-comments issue, I’m looking at that more

  3. [BLOG] Some Friday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky looks at diners and changing menus and […]

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