The Mannequins of South Dakota

I just got back from a couple of days in South Dakota, hunting for vintage clothing for my store, Vintage Haberdashers, and seeing the sights. SoDak is a land of stunning natural beauty and wonderfully old fashioned tourist traps. These roadside destinations were populated by an amazing array of characters, re-purposed department store mannequins, aging wax figures, secondhand animatronics, and statuary.
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Wall Drug
510 Main St, Wall, SD 57790

Pioneer Auto Museum
503 5th St, Murdo, SD 57559

1880 Town
Interstate 90, Midland, SD 57552

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Clearview Diner – Mount Joy, PA

The Clearview started out life as a small, five bay 1948 Paramount. It was pretty standard for a Paramount built diner of the late 1940s, which is to say it was extraordinary- with a sensuously curved roofline and strong vertical elements. From the postcard, it’s hard to say what the exterior finish is, but I would guess probably vertically ribbed stainless. It had a great rooftop neon, which, in true 1940s form read “steaks, chops, hamburgers”. You don’t see nearly enough Steaks and Chops being advertised these days. For other ’40s Paramount built diners along similar lines, allow me to direct you to: “Rajun Cajun” of Hartford, CT, a six-bay model from 1950, to the Vale-Rio Diner, another 1948 model.

In 1954, the diner was remodeled and drastically enlarged, adding three bays to the left side and bumping a dining room back quite a ways. Business must have been good! In keeping with this modernization, curved glass supplanted glass brick on the corners. A new, clock topped vestibule was added, and a parapet was added to the curvy monitor roof to give the entire place a continuous, 1954 modern roof line. The emphasis of the design was changed to the horizontal. The diner was topped off with metal awnings and a new freestanding neon, though the steaks-chops rooftop piece remained for at least a little while longer.

Later on, the “Diner” name was dropped, replaced with “The Clearview Dining Room and Coffee Shop”. See Richard J.S. Gutman’s chapter on the move away from the “diner” name in the 1960s in his book “The American Diner Then and Now”. Despite the name and neon changes, the exterior looks to have remained in-tact, with the addition of Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs.

In what I’m guessing was the 1960s, the diner was enlarged and remodeled again, with a mid-century modern coffee shop-style vestibule put up along the entire length of the original 1948 section of the diner. Orange tile, floor to ceiling glass, modernist lettering.

Later on, the “Diner” was reintroduced into the name of the Clearview, probably coinciding with the cultural “re-discovery” of the diner in the 1990s. It changed names to the Tic-Tac diner in 2009, but that chapter in its life was short lived. By 2012, the diner had been stuccoed over, painted, and is now known as Babbo’s Italian Grill. A photo of the diner in its current state can be seen on the Diners of Pennsylvania facebook page.

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As the Tic Tac Diner
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Photo by Casey Kreider
LancasterOnline.com article

Bayway Diner- Linden, NJ

I went here a couple of years ago when they were filming a section for “diners drive ins and dives”. I’m just in the background of a shot, I know in the TV version, but I don’t see myself in the youtube edit.

It’s a cool little Comac Dinette, probably the last of its kind, that was remodeled by Randy Garbin’s diner restoration company.

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