Reminiscent of Dot’s Diner….but then again, maybe not

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Notes from Rich, Photography, Route 66 1 Comment

Dots Diner, shot in Bisbee earlier this year

Dot's Diner, shot in Bisbee earlier this year

At the start of this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Bisbee, AZ.  What a unique town.  It’s so unique that it reminds everyone of Jerome, and Jerome reminds everyone of Bisbee.  Oh, wait, that’s not unique……

In all honesty, Bisbee is a unique town.  Wonderful buildings, great people, and a fantastic history.  A mining town, and considered by some to be an active ghost town.  My favorite things all wrapped up into one place!  How fun.

Along with my personal interest in ghost towns, mining camps, and tales of the wild west I have an equal interest in all things Route 66.  I caught the bug well over a year ago, and here I am, still dealing with a strange craving for anything and everything Route 66.

With all that said, it wouldn’t surprise any reader here today to learn that I took yet another trip along segments of Route 66 in Arizona.  The trip wasn’t a Route 66 trip per se, but it did follow along the Route.  So in the interest of covering more than one of my interests, several stops were made yesterday.  Winslow, Holbrook, Winona, the Little Painted Desert, and a few extra stops to boot.  400 miles of driving in total.  What a day!

It’ll take me 2 days to catch up from such a whirlwind day.  Another 2 days to finally fully sort photos.  And 2 additional days of telling you how long it took me to catch up with myself.  This gives me blogging fuel for an entire week!

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A sorely neglected "Dot's wanna be" sits in Winslow, AZ.

What I really want to address in this post is a simple combination of everything I’ve said in the paragraphs above.  Let’s see, we have thoughts of Bisbee, Route 66, the Painted Desert, and extra stops.  How could I pull all of that together into a related mis-mash of information?

Simple………Dot’s Diner.  I found it’s sister diner in Winslow.  And it needs the kind of love Dot’s has received!

Pulling into Winslow was pretty interesting.  Definitely larger than Seligman, Oatman, and several other towns I’ve visited on Route 66.  But you could tell, this is another dying town.  Well, in some areas beyond dying.  It’s such a shame.

Freight trains passed through the town several times while visiting.  A stop into a Harvey Hotel (more on that in another post), standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona, and a visit to a diner that screams to be loved!  My time was spent in that manner while visiting Winslow, not necessarily in that order.

Upon first view of the diner my heart jumped.  Dot’s, only closer to home!  But then I got a closer look……..closed, run down, and in need of some TLC!

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The Highway Diner.....not quite open for business....

Ok, another famous aside for this post.  Hey, you know how this blog works by now!

Airstream Life Magazine regularly does trailer restorations for the publication.  Well, I think this diner is restoration worthy, and I bet something amazing could be done that would be “Airstream worthy!”

The “Highway Diner” which advertises itself as Open for Business was unfortunately not open for business.  Even knowing that, I had to get a closer look.  Upon close examination I found a disturbing similarity to Dot’s Diner, located at the Shady Dell in Bisbee, AZ.  Ah, this is where Bisbee ties in!  See, sometimes my blogging makes sense……sometimes.

If you look at the photos in the post, the first is of the interior of Dot’s right before it’s grand re-opening this year.  The second shot is of the interior of the Highway Diner.  I didn’t have the original Dot’s photo with me, but I tried as hard as I could to replicate the image in my mind when shooting this new found gem.  I think I came pretty darned close!  Oh, and no cropping or anything, just a series through the window.  When I got home I did what I always do……started sorting, and sorting some more.  I found what I was looking for, and you’re seeing it in this post.

I do love old diners, trailers, napkin holders, salt shakers, and all the rest that you can imagine!

Looking inside the Highway Diner I found a slowing rotting corpse.  Plastic baskets on the stools, the ceilings falling on to the floor, a floor in need of repair, but more beyond the decay.  Glasses and mugs still in their places, a sugar dispenser, a napkin holder, and salt shaker all ready to do their part in the diner.  The place isn’t beyond saving……not yet.

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Have you ever stayed in a Wigwam? Yeah, me neither!

If I had the money and time I’d move the Highway Diner to Prescott.  I’d open it serving unique Canadian French dishes.  I could just imagine my Memere’s cooking in a cute place like this.  And I’m sure I’d make a killing even in this economy.  A retro diner serving up Candian French Meat Pies with cranberry sauce on the side, a slice or two of specially prepared turkey, and maybe a small serving of Virginia Ham (my own addition to the mix).  Or one of my Mem’s amazing burgers, which I still remember how to make exactly, bun and all.  I always told her when I was a child that she could beat any restaurant out hands down, and when I told her that I always pictured a location like Dot’s and the Highway Diner.

Memere is the word for grandmother in my family.  And my memere was the definition of “grandma.”  Spit on a handkerchief to clean your face, malted milk balls stashed away in a special cabinet, and the best food ever to spoil a grand child.  And her best meals were always prepared in a small trailer on a lake during the summer when vacationing, and we’d share the meals together on small islands of rocks in a cove on the lake.  Our special for lunch you know.  And when finished, a rousing game of “Go fish” or Uno.  Then once I had safely digested my meal, off for a swim, which lasted for hours!

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The scene from outside Williams Arizona. A forest fire grows!

So, “Dot’s Part Deux” exists.  Not only exists, but is almost an exact replica of the lovely diner located at the Shady Dell.  Nostalgia, meet nostalgia.  Now, square yourself, then cube yourself……

Beyond finding another amazing throw back diner, what else occurred on the trip?  A visit to “The Little Painted Desert,” a stop by the “Wigwam Motel,” a visit to a Harvey Hotel, and a ride into a forest fire.  Seriously, Flagstaff was choked off literally.  A fire is raging somewhere near Sycamore Canyon tonight, and I hope they’re able to get in under control!

More updates on the “Sunday drive” will occur this week, I’m sure.  I’ve got 250+ photos to sort.  Tepee motels, retro diners, functioning hotels, and some super smoke clouded photos to share.  Yup, there will be follow ups, but not on the order I predicted earlier in the post, that was just teasing, and you know that I’m good at that.

And I’ll remind myself someday soon to tell you all about my interest in “throw back” antiquities.  See, in my child hood I got to spend summers with Memere and Pepere at their place on Manchaug pond.  A cool retro “trailer” (it was big, 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, porch, the works), growing up on a lake, playing Uno with Uncle Hank, being accused of cheating at Trivial Pursuit, and more.  I think I love Route 66, Airstreams, and everything that seems to be disappearing because I got to live at the tail end of that America.  And I’ve met so many people who haven’t, it makes me feel a great loss.  And that loss makes me want to document the few remaining pieces while they’re still here.  This year Mem & Pep’s lake front place was taken to the ground, and I’m sorry to know it’s gone.  Wish I’d had the opportunity to photograph that throw back…..it’s where I spent a good deal of my formative time.

If you’ve got a few bucks and want to restore an old diner, I might be convinced to share a recipe or two with you if it means saving something that reminds me so much of my childhood.  🙂

Comments 1

  1. Hi Rich,
    Just wanted to tell you…. really great job spotting the two “Dots”. Hope someone takes on the task of renovating the one in Winslow. Maybe it’s a “new england thing”, but I have the same fondness for the old americana that Route 66 seems to represent. Growing up in Vermont, family and friends meant everything.

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