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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Walter's Restaurant: 1953

Walter's Restaurant: 1953

Fairbury, Nebraska, 1953. Walter Gorham, my uncle, ran this restaurant in the Mary-Etta Hotel. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Eat from Pac

1) See pic for details of the infamous Kel-bowl-pac. My brother and I tried this more than once. Never worked. 2) As others have implied, I have had surgery in places that were not this clean.

A diner photo!

Thanks, Gorham family, for the photo and the story from Fairbury, just down the road. And thanks, Shorpy, for a diner/restaurant/soda fountain photo after what seems to have been ages. They used to be posted more often and I particularly enjoy those.

RE: That was my home!

Thanks for your memories! Loved reading your story.

That was my home!

I grew up in the Mary-Etta Hotel. My parents ran it, along with the cafe and the tavern and party rooms, from 1963 to 1972. The cafe was definitely not this spotless by the time we got there. The glass cases on the counter were filled with slices of pie, baked fresh every day in the back kitchen. To the right, just out of camera range, there were three booths that would seat four each. You can see the coat racks that were mounted on the ends of the booths. Food was pretty standard American diner fare - grilled cheese, hamburgers, hand-cut French fries, a full breakfast menu. There was usually a dinner special each night, something like roast beef or fried chicken. The "diet plate" consisted of various kinds of canned fruit (peaches, pears, pineapple, maraschino cherries) with a scoop of cottage cheese in the center, all on a bed of lettuce leaves. Mom and Dad had to work long hours every day keeping everything going, so often our supper was ordering something in the cafe. Pork chops with fries was one of my favorites. Eventually Dad got tired of working so hard and never making much money - the place was old and took constant attention and infusions of cash just to keep it running. So he opened a steakhouse half a block south and sold the hotel business. The new owner lasted a year or so before giving up under the workload, and by the mid-70s the Mary-Etta was torn down and became a car lot. (I'm still kind of sad about that.) Thanks for posting this picture and transporting me back to my childhood.

Flower power

The fact that there's a tasteful arrangement of fresh flowers shows this guy's attention to detail and concern for his customers.

"Noted for Good Food"

The Mary-Etta Hotel as pictured on a matchbook cover

Those little Kellogg cereal boxes on the shelf

You could cut open the box and use the box for a bowl. If you were very careful not to slice the the wax paper lining. As kids we always battled for the Frosted Flakes. Pep cereal and Bran flakes were the last two eaten.

Counter Cases

What were those cases on the counter used for? Donuts?


That takes the prize as the cleanest restaurant I recall seeing on Shorpy.

Cleanliness Its Ownself

You don't see spotlessness like that any more. Gorham was either very industrious or knew how to get good work from employees.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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