So now I am finally going to keep my promise to my faithful readers and tell the story in its complete form, with the help of my friend Matt Simmons! The next part is basically what I wrote for Roadside, with a few new tweaks…….
The album cover featured a photograph of an abandoned diner. This cover had always intrigued me whenever I came across it in music stores. Between tunes, the DJ mentioned how he liked diners, which definitely got my attention, and then he played the Abandoned Luncheonette song. For the first time, I really listened to the lyrics. The words spoke to me and stirred something within me.
I had to have this record. Needless to say, I bought this album — the first of around 15 albums in my collection with images of diners featured on the covers. I pulled over and checked out the map. The road went only a few miles to the west, but went 30 or so miles to the east, towards Philadelphia.
I knew this had to be the right road and decided that on my next trip, I would go exploring. Since we had some time to kill on the trip down, we bypassed through Reading and headed down Route We had traveled about 20 miles or so to the east into the outskirts of Pottstown actually Kenilworth , PA when there it was — the Abandoned Luncheonette — sitting about 25 feet off the side of the road.
This was really exciting, almost like finding the Holy Grail. It was still recognizable and looked very similar to the album cover, albeit with nine years worth of over-grown foliage. Luckily, it was the middle of winter, and I was able to duplicate the album cover photo without the bushes and trees getting in the way. I have since found out the diner was formerly the Rosedale Diner, operated for years at the corner of High Street and Rosedale Drive in Pottstown.
It was certainly in sad shape when I found it and on a subsequent visit April 3, , it was completely unrecognizable having had all of its stainless steel exterior stripped away.
In fact, The Man on Rte. Now if I could only get the original Rosedale Diner linen postcard into my collection! Rosedale Diner postcard from my collection. Well, since I wrote that story in , I was able to obtain a copy of the Rosedale Diner postcard for the collection thanks Art Goody! Also, within the last 5 years or so, I have become acquainted with some key people who were able to impart some more facts and info on the Abandoned Luncheonette.
One of the facts I had wrong in the earlier story was when I guessed the time period the diner got moved to its final resting place. She was able to give me some first-hand info on the diner and its history. In fact they have known each other most of their lives. Cindy is the daughter of Bill Faulk who was the owner and operator of the Rosedale Diner. In my correspondence with Susan, she was able to fill me in on some of the facts about the diner and also put me in touch with Cindy.
Rosedale Diner menu cover courtesy of Susan Norman. Matt was himself trying to find info on The Abandoned Luncheonette. So thus began a trading of info back and forth between Matt and myself. What a coincidence! I immediately bid on it and was determined to get it for the collection. I watched over the auction for the last hour or so of bidding and managed to squeak by in the last 2 minutes for the winning bid!
Back of Rosedale Diner drinking glass. Also, Matt Simmons was making inroads in gaining more info and insights while making friends with Cindy Baker and her sister, Marla LaBelle as well as their friend Susan Norman. Recently, when I did a post on Abandoned Diners, I renewed my promise to finally do something with the story of the Rosedale. Well, the middle of July came and with it an email from Matt with the promised story.
I read it over and got back to him to let him know that it was a fantastic piece! I told him he was getting co-authorship of this post. In fact, his text makes up most of it! According to Bill, the hippie boys informed him that if they won this contest, they would get to record an album of their music. A photo of the dormant diner across the street, which Bill also owned, would be perfect for the cover. After Bill called the local police, the hippie boys, along with their college-aged female photographer, abruptly scurried from the diner.
The simplicity of southern farm life was shaken at the age of seven, when his beloved mother, Annie Pearl, passed away. Formal education was forsaken shortly thereafter, stalling short of the fourth grade. While serving in World War II, he earned promotions to the level of Sergeant and often fulfilled cooking duties for his fellow soldiers.
Their relationship quickly blossomed, driven by a flurry of love letters penned by Bill. Operating location of the Rosedale Diner, photo courtesy of Matt Simmons.
Situated forty miles northwest of the Liberty Bell, the borough served as residence for roughly 22, others. In August of , Nancy gave birth to Cindy. He opened his restaurant at the corner of East High and Rosedale streets. High Street, a. Route at the time, was the bustling main drag in Pottstown. A kaleidoscope of pink and burgundy tiles lined the interior floor and walls, and the forty-three seat restaurant featured a significant luxury: air-conditioning. Betty was a local music teacher, whose son was among her pupils. Open twenty-four hours, six days a week, operating the Rosedale required a complete family effort.
Bill typically labored until at least P. Cindy spent many evenings of her youth at the diner, and at age twelve, she became part of the daily staff. She performed just about every task required at the Rosedale, until earning her high school diploma.
Among them was Jean Harner, who Cindy believes was eighteen when she accepted a waitress position at the Rosedale. Aerial view of Rosedale Diner prior to obtaining an entryway vestibule from Fodero Diners. He declined opportunities to buy it more than once, balking at the asking price. The Rosedale was relegated to being towed out. One month shy of turning eighteen, Cindy was no longer an only child. He had been telling a variety of people for years that fast food was the future of the restaurant business.
With his diner now homeless, Bill decided the time to join the future was now. He purchased land on each side of Route on the southeastern outskirts of Pottstown. Bill secured several rural acres on the north side, and enough space to open a new restaurant directly across the street on the south side. He directed the diner be placed near the north edge of Route And in that spot, the Rosedale sat. Bill raised cattle on the surrounding acres, as the Rosedale sat. And sat.
Bill had his new fast food restaurant, Toggs, constructed directly across the street. To enhance his pursuit of a music career by easing pronunciation, Daryl changed his surname to Hall. He met fellow southeast Pennsylvania native John Oates while they were each students at Temple University. Together, they signed with Atlantic records and released their first album in One of the songs, composed by Daryl, was inspired by the diner that had transformed from a sparkling childhood memory to a dormant and downtrodden relic.
So, at least one thing Daryl said on that summer day at Toggs in was true. The front cover featured an exterior photo of the Rosedale, encompassed by the tall grass and shrubs of eight years of inactivity. The back cover featured a photo of the duo that was taken moments before the police arrived at the scene. Despite widespread critical acclaim, the LP would not be a commercial success for Hall and Oates for several years.
The first song on side B was the title track. Its lyrics painted a somewhat pitiful picture of an antiquated couple, sitting in an empty diner, clinging to the distant days in which their youthful energy had brought the building to life.
To anyone who ever knew Bill, it would be obvious that the lyrics were about him. After all, by the day Daryl, John, and their photographer walked into Toggs, Bill and Jean had long been a couple. For quite some time, the marriage between Bill and Nancy had merely existed on paper. The husband and wife had moved on, mutually.
According to Marla, Bill listened to the album once, and then never again removed it from its sleeve. But in , Bill started to notice something surprising and disturbing.
Random strangers were stopping by, even in broad daylight, and attempting to go inside the Rosedale. At first, the corresponding deterioration of the Rosedale was gradual. Hall and Oates began the decade with separate multi-platinum-selling albums in three successive years. The local hippie boys, who had dropped by Toggs with a peculiar request nearly a decade earlier, were now arguably the second most popular musical act in the world behind Michael Jackson.
People came from all over the world, in search of the special spot on Route at Peterman Road. The Rosedale was ravaged.
Bill saw little choice but to plan its demolition. Terry Ruggles came to the site on Route with microphone in hand and cameraman in tow.