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Boston & Albany Railroad: Quick Lunch Car

This was Westborough's first Meals on Wheels.

 Boston & Albany Railroad ~ Quick Lunch Car

Courtesy: Oct. 12, 1917 Fire......Westborough Historical Commission

The smoke continues to rise from the Oct. 12, 1917, fire that destroyed the Westborough Trunk & Bag Co. (formerly the National Straw Works), the Hassle Lace and Curtain Co. and the residence of George Barnard (formerly the Westborough Inn). Flames then leaped over Union St. and destroyed the Staples Block, leaving nothing but ashes and rubble on East Main Street.

Although firefighters from surrounding communities as well as Worcester and Framingham responded to the scene they were only able to stop the conflagration from spreading across East Main Street then to High and Summer streets. If not for a deluge of rain and shifting winds, the entire downtown may have burned to the ground.

In this Bower photo is the Quick Lunch car built by the Worcester Lunch Car Co. and like many others was owned by the Boston & Albany Railroad. The cars were located near a retail, business district or busy railroad crossing and were the forerunner of the Worcester City Diners. The car appeared in downtown Westborough as early as 1911 and is photographed at the railroad siding on East Main Street. When the massive fire broke out, the car was moved from its location between the Staples block and the railroad spur and returned after the fire to resume business.

Westborough’s Quick Lunch Car

The etched glass windows were the trademark of the Worcester Lunch Car Co. (est. 1906). The car had a kitchen area with a take-out window to the left separated on the inside by a bar with stools and a small dinning area. The sliding entry door in the middle of the car allowed patrons to enter and sit at the bar or a table. The car was open for business every day and early evening hours and offered sandwiches, eggs, coffee, milk, pie and cigars. As part of the downtown redevelopment program in 1930, the railroad was asked to remove the aging lunch car to make way for redevelopment. Although the car is long gone, the site later became that of Dacey’s Diner. References: Worcester Lunch Car Co. Richard Gutman, Westborough Chronotype.

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Don Montgomery November 14, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Fantastic! For more on the Worcester Lunch Car Co., see http://www.henrydeeks.com/shop/real-photo-postcards/books/the-worcester-lunch-car-company/prod_46.html
Ron Goodenow November 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I agree with Don. Keep it all coming Glenn! Would be really interested in the food cars on the line itself. I remember a wonderful dinner in the diner on the old NY Central New England States, a train with an interesting history that is still rolling at least part way to Chicago as the Lake Shore Limited. When I took it several years ago to Chicago (that's where my sleeper, attached in Rensselaer to the New York section of the train, went). The Boston section had an Amfleet cafe, and then we had a diner after Rensselaer. The history trains and food is wonderful....think of Fred Harvey houses and hotels, food that company provided on the Santa Fe, and all that. But the aspect of the business you're talking about is new to me!
Marilyn Leffler November 17, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Love to hear old stories about our town. How scary that fire must have been though. I feel so bad for all of those who lost homes and jobs because of it. Our fire department has come a long way since then. Keep up the good work Glenn!!!

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