Can you guess where you can get a good cup of coffee or two, for less than $1.00 in Northbridge? Right, at Peg’s Diner located in downtown Whitinsville. One of very few places in the Blackstone Valley right now where you don’t need to spend more than $5.00 for breakfast or lunch, this former 1936 Worcester Lunch Car, Serial #723, is still very viable at 87 Church Street. Known previously by most Whitin Machine Works workers during the 1940’s, 1950’s as Pat’s (Duggans) Diner, and in the 1960’s as Sully’s (Sullivans) Diner, and then as Barbara’s Place and the 87 Diner, and finally as Peg Gagner’s (Peg’s) Diner today, it is certainly best described as “a step back in time”. It still has its original floor and tables and booths, although its counter top has been changed. Having 10 stools and 4 booths, twenty four persons can be seated comfortably at any one time.
Very few experiences can equal being in Peg’s Diner and reminiscing about “the good old days” and how to solve today’s problems especially when you see Jack Walker and his Calendar and John Rogers, or even Peg herself engaging in a conversation about the re-emergence and revitalization of Downtown Whitinsville.(By the way, if you go to “downtown Rockdale”, you can still see the “stairs to nowhere” from Dewey’s Diner.)
Peg Gagner, including her tiny work force consisting of Jim and Debbie, work long hours and have a lot in common with the former employees of The Shop. When you want to hear the latest news in Town, if you missed a stop in Peg’s Diner, well, you are the loser. One can “catch what is going on” by reading the newspaper, casually thrown onto the Formica counter top, or lying around with real estate periodicals also. Make sure you are hungry when you enter, because the portions served by Peg and her Crew are ample and again, the prices are right! Each day a “Special” is served piping hot and it is usually featured outside on Peg’s large white billboard as you enter the diner. All persons are welcome, whether or not you live in Whitinsville, Northbridge Center, Riverdale, Plummers, Rockdale or Linwood. If you live out of town, well, you have to ‘suffer the consequences.’ “Some of our customers are appreciated when they enter and others, when they leave”, says Peg.
I can recall when the Shop whistle would blow at 1 pm. On Fridays or the gong in the Bell Tower each day would go off ) during the working day to remind the employees that their Lunch Hour was up and they had to leave the diner. For most of them, the walk would take only 5-7 minutes to get back to their respective departments. My Dad always brought his Lunch Pail, but every once-in- awhile, especially during the 1940’s, he would go to the diner and meet some of his co-workers to “brush up on the latest gossip “ about what was going on in The Shop. (The Shop cafeteria, a red brick building now occupied by Lane and Hamer, was erected after WWII.) Many employees, especially in management , would either go there, or to the Blue Eagle Inn for their Lunch Hour.)
Now you can judge for yourselves as to whether Peg’s
Diner will appeal to you. Simply log on to
“take a step back into time” !
Jim Gardiner , Peg's son, runs the Diner full time now.
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