Apparently, I was eating at all the wrong diners back in the ‘50s (and even the ‘40s) in Ohio and New Jersey, because they were not much like the current replicas described in Calendar (“Diners: Blasting Back to the ‘50s,” by Ruth Reichl, Aug. 17).
I don’t remember any cutesy signs--or cutesy waitresses either, for that matter. Most of the women were middle-aged, wore orthopedic shoes and didn’t take the time to tell you their names were Karen or Kimberly or Melody because they were interested in getting the order to the customer fast and right. In those days, they even managed to serve the toast with the eggs-over-easy--and it was hot, besides.
It is certainly true that diner food was no gourmet delight--nor was it intended to be. What you got were substantial portions of plain, country-style food including “real” mashed potatoes.
It’s pretty clear that the original diner concept is not making a return engagement but wouldn’t it be nice if waitresses (and waiters) on the current scene would stop behaving as if they were a media event and get back to the business of bringing the food from kitchen to customer with dispatch and accuracy?