The city of Worcester (where I live) takes great pride in the city’s architectural landmarks and its contributions to modern civilization. Worcester boasts a number of “famous firsts”, including barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the first commercial Valentines, the birth control pill, the first perfect game in major league baseball and the yellow Smiley Face icon.
We have Coney Island Hotdogs with its famous neon sign, and the Boulevard Diner where Madonna ate spaghetti after a concert at the Centrum. We have Table Talk Pies and Sir Morgan’s Cove (now Lucky Dog) where the Rolling Stones in 1981 gave an impromptu free concert. We have Mechanics Hall, where Henry Thoreau, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton have orated and Auburn Park, where Robert Goddard sent the first liquid fuel rocket into space.
Worcester takes special pride in the diners that can still be found throughout New England and as far as Florida, because most of them were originally built by the Worcester Lunch Car and Carriage Manufacturing Company which produced over 600 diners between 1906 and 1957. The Miss Worcester Diner still stands in its original location across the street from the former factory.
Every year the Family Health Center of Worcester asks artists to donate examples of their work to the Art in the City Auction. This year’s auction will take place on Friday, May 4, 2012 at Worcester’s famous Mechanics Hall.
I like to donate paintings or photographs to Art in the City every year, because the Family Health Center provides health services to over 33,000 patients from greater Worcester, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.
Last year I donated four matted and framed photographs of Worcester landmarks which I had originally taken for an exhibit called “Welcome to Worcester” in 2010. The show was put together by Elizabeth Hughes of the Futon Company on Highland Street. The photographs I donated last year featured the Owl Shop, the famous sign of Coney Island Hot Dogs, and photographs of the Miss Worcester Diner and the Boulevard Diner. All the photos sold, and the diner photos were especially popular, so this year I’m donating embellished digital photos of Ralph’s Diner (where the owner, Ralph Moberly’s ashes are buried beneath a tombstone in front) and a different shot of the Boulevard Diner at night. I also contributed a photo of the Owl Shop’s neon sign against the bell tower of City Hall, and the clock tower of the Worcester State Hospital, long condemned and in danger of being torn down until it was decided to replace it with a copy of the original building.
If the photos continue to prove popular with the public, I hope to photograph a half dozen more of the classic dining cars that still survive in Worcester and its environs, because the lovingly maintained, art deco details of these neighborhood restaurants, both inside and outside, are certainly found art.