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Monty's Diner: 1942

Monty's Diner: 1942

May 1942. "Southington, Connecticut. Monty's Diner." Next door to the Wigwam and Redmen's Club. Photo by Fenno Jacobs for the OWI. View full size.


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Re: Service Flag

After today's posting, the Redmen Lodge Service Flag shows all blue stars I think, especially since it is early 1942, not that long after Pearl Harbor. By WWII the custom of gold stars had changed slightly from WWI so that slightly smaller gold stars were sewn over the original, thereby making it gold with a narrow blue edging.

Although some flags were made with Service Men's names embroidered or painted on this was very rare. I think what you see in this photo is a reflection on the glass in front of the banner.

The Service Banner or Flag was adopted officially by the US Government in 1966, and there was use in regional locations of the flag.

If you go to, ask and you can get more info.

Gold Stars

I don't have the ability to focus in on individual aspects of the photos, like some of you do, and my eyes aren't that great, either, but it looks to me like there are at least three gold stars on that Service Flag. It looks like there is something written on them, too. I wonder if that was the man's name, along with birth date and death date, or maybe something about where they were killed. A sobering thought.

I sure wish we'd had service flags during the Vietnam conflict. It was only 20 years later, but many Americans treated our servicemen like losers or even criminals.

Regionalisms can be entertaining.

I spent a few years in Rochester, NY, as a kid, and there the term "hamburg" also obtains, though I never heard of their being steamed ... miffed, maybe.

The local "Frankfurt" was called a "hot," and came in red or white.

And trips to Ohio traversed a small section of Pennsylvania in which one got coffee and a piece of pie at a "dinor." There's probably a decent dissertation topic there for some budding philologist.

That menu looks so good --

I'll take one of everything. Here's my $1.25.

Maid Rites

In central Iowa around Ames & Boone Maid Rites are a similar loose ground beef sandwich.

Dead giveaway

Even if there were no caption I would have figured out that Monty's was located in Connecticut. The central part of the state, to be specific. The clue is the listing on the sign for "Grilled or steamed hamburg." Steamers, as they're usually called, are as about as regional a food as you can get. They're a longtime delicacy in the central part of Connecticut, basically a circle of about 15 miles in diameter, centered on the city of Meriden and encompassing Southington, Middletown and Berlin,* and nowhere else. While the idea of eating steamed ground beef may sound gross, I have had steamers and can say without hesitation that they're very good indeed and not in any way off-putting. Restaurants have to use special devices to make steamers, resembling metal cabinets with small drawers, and as far as I know each one is custom-made.

Monty's was located on North Main Street in Southington, probably within a block or two of the town center. I doubt the building's still standing. It stayed open 24 hours a day during the war to accommodate shift workers in the town's defense plants. Business declined in the postwar years and Monty's shut down in 1964.

The Diamond Beverages noted on the sign were from Diamond Ginger Ale Company in my hometown of Waterbury, about ten miles west of Southington (far enough away for it to be out of steamer territory). It started out shortly after 1900 and remained in business until the late 1960's. The front of its bottling plant in the South End of Waterbury had the bottoms of soda bottles embedded in stucco, creating a unique effect somewhat akin to glass bricks. While the building's still around, the outside was renovated about 20 years ago and now there's nothing unusual about its appearance.

The Redmen's Club, formally known as the Improved Order of Red Men, still has a chapter ("tribe") in Southington, though as far as I can tell it no longer has its own clubhouse.

* = Berlin is pronounced to rhyme with Merlin. It used to be pronounced in the conventional manner until the outbreak of World War I made that name a bit awkward. As a full name change would have been too much trouble, city officials decreed that henceforth the pronunciation would change. Or so the story goes.

The Greatest Generation

Looks like the Redmen's Club had 20 members in the Armed Forces. If you enter the Lord & Taylor Department Store on 5th Avenue today, at the entrance, there are plaques honoring their employees that served in WW2.

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