A Diner for Locals and Out-of-Towners

22 Jul

Travis struggled to open the door until the woman behind the counter motioned for him to slide it, and suddenly she yelled at the other men behind the other side of the counter on the red spinning stools to scoot over and make room for four guests. No one complained, but instead we were instantly hit with two or three jokes as we made our way in the narrow rail car-turned diner, setting up shop and eying the stove in front of us where sausages, eggs and pancakes were already frying. American breakfast, just as I remembered, and though this wasn’t our first choice, not a single voice in the group of four showed any hint of remorse.

Our 45 minute drive to Dick’s for eggs and bacon was wasted when we read the sign saying they were on vacation for a week, and in a small mill town, there aren’t too many options for breakfast all day. But Travis knew of another place a few blocks away, so we kept rolling until pulling up to the hill where Deluxe Diner sat. Originally a rail car constructed in the 1920s in Worcestor, MA and transported to Rumford, Maine by carriage, it has remained a mainstay of good old fashioned home cooking ever since. These small towns, especially those in New England, invite you in and make you instantly feel welcome. It must be something about the influence of Irish and English humor fused together, of course blended with the American style. You could be getting insulted and not even realize it until a minute later, yet still have a smile on your face as everyone else around you laughs. It’s all in good taste and you’re not really offended.

The woman behind the counter gave us menus and after we made up our minds, buttered us up with hospitality and greasy but delicious food. Nothing was insincere, just genuine friendly people. My cup of coffee was never more than 3/4 empty and while we waited for our orders, the cook joked around with us and told us of how he once lived in Massachusetts. It all started as we chatted amongst ourselves, and then in classic small town fashion, he turned around and said, “Are you guys from around here? Because I know most of the people in this town.” His question was filled with interest rather than suspicion. Rumford isn’t exactly a vacation spot, so it was strange for outsiders to be moseying up on the red stools. Travis explained that he was born in Rumford but lived in Massachusetts, but his family now had a house in Weld, down the road. That made enough sense to our hosts and we were welcomed in like the other locals at the counter.

Our food came out and I feasted my eyes on the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel and the short stack of pancakes with sausage links. This was the exact kind of thing I’d been missing out on, covered in butter, grease and what will eventually clog your arteries if you eat every morning. For all of that food I would expect to see some insane prices like one might find in Buenos Aires, but the bill didn’t even come to $10. Throughout the brunch we were treated to the playful banter between the waitress and cook who took special note to say that they weren’t at work, but were rather hanging out. At one point another patron was also pulled into it, as he was shown off as a volunteer at the diner. When no change could be found, he volunteered what he had and did his part.

Bellies full and souls content, we said our goodbyes to the staff and walked back out into the thick summer heat. The stench from the paper mill was blowing down wind, and though Travis said you get used to it, Curtis pointed out that he wouldn’t want to get used to it. Even if you gotta live in a mill town, having an old fashioned, quality diner like that can make it pretty sweet.

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