I’ve mentioned before my love (or rather need) for watching travel documentaries. Well, I was perusing the ol’ library stacks a while looking for something about India, when I came across a travel documentary about Rhode Island. What better way to get to know your new home, than to watch a low-budget movie about it? I thought. So I got it, and watched it, and that has already come in handy because on Sunday I went and watched the ceremonial burning of the H.M.S. Gaspee (more on that later).
The DVD (yes, it was actually a DVD), also included a glimpse of The American Diner Museum in Lincoln, RI. Diners apparently started in Rhode Island: “It is generally agreed that the first diner was a horse-drawn wagon equipped to serve hot food to employees of the Providence Journal, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1872. Walter Scott who ran the lunch wagon had previously supplemented his income by selling sandwiches and coffee to his fellow pressmen at the Journal from baskets he prepared at home. Commercial production of lunch wagons began in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1887. The first manufactured lunch wagons with seating appeared throughout the Northeastern US in the late 19th century, serving busy downtown locations without the need to buy expensive real estate. It is generally accepted that the name “diner” as opposed to “lunch wagon” was not widely used before 1925.”– Wikipedia.
So they created a museum to honor this contribution to eating, and showcase the history of the loveable institution of “the diner.” Sounds great to me.
A while ago my Jewish Friend and I were driving home from a super-fun-adventure-Sunday hiking in Purgatory Chasm and then eating ice cream. It was early, and we still felt like more adventures could be had. So I pulled out Susan, the trusty GPS and asked her for a list of local attractions.
“Ohhhh, The American Diner Museum.” I said, “I just watched a travel documentary about that. Do you want to go there?”
“What is it?”
“It’s like a tribute to the American Diner.”
Susan was not on her game that day and she made us drive in circles for quite a while leading Jewish Friend to yell out, “Why is she making us drive in circles? Doesn’t she know how expensive gas is?” Finally, we found the museum, and found it to be closed. There were no posted hours on the building, nor did the recording give me any when I called them. So we went home.
The following day, I found their website which promises: “Visitors to the Museum’s permanent home will be able learn the history of the diner through interactive video and exhibits commemorating the numerous diner manufacturers. The Museum’s reference library will provide access to manufacturers’ literature and records, a registry of diners and a collection of photographs and artifacts.” Except there are no posted hours on the website either. So I sent them a politely worded email. I thought maybe, it’s only open during the summer months, and we had visited too early.
The email bounced back– three times.
So I called them, and left a politely-worded voicemail explaining that I’m new to the area, saw the museum on a travel documentary, and would simply love to come visit if they would only tell me when I can actually get into the building. No response.
Now, I have to ask, what is the point of having a museum that no one can visit? Do I need to be a part of a documentary crew in order to get inside? Someone must be paying the phone bill, so why is he or she not checking messages?
I was fully prepared to visit this establishment, appreciate the contribution that my adopted home of Rhode Island made to food service, marvel at olde tymey cooking gadgets, and then leave satisfied and say nice things about it to other people– no more. I fully intend to scoff every time someone else brings it up and say something like “good luck getting in.”