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Statement for Timeline
I have always had a fascination with diners, I loved the sleek look and breakfast food has been my favorite since I was a child. I never knew the greater history of diners, I just always saw them on TV and assumed they were just like every other average restaurant. Once I started to do research on it, I soon found out I was very wrong. I was surprised to find that diners did not originate in the south as places for great breakfast food, but rather originated in New England as a place for a quick meal in the night. The timeline I decided to create followed the history of diners with a focus on Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minnesota. I chose to track Mickey’s Diner history because it is the most famous diner in the United States. It is often visited by celebrities and has been featured on many films, TV shows, and the food network. Mickeys has been open 24/7 365 days a year since it opened in 1939, which is very unique compared to the number of diners I considered researching. Although I was not able to cover a direct history of Mickey’s Dining car and it’s process, I was able to put together a story of how diners have changed and shifted over time.
One of the main reasons I chose to cover a general history of diners was because of the lack of information on Mickey’s diner. Though this was a unique diner being one of the first in the Midwestern United States, there was very little information about the two men who decided to open Mickey’s which I found to be disappointing. Not being discouraged, I dove into the greater history of diners as eating places opposed to a timeline of two people. What I discovered was that the story of how diners were created was so rich, it was genuinely a service to America’s common man. So I took the approach that Mickey’s was the “common man” of American Diners that shares a history with other diners that operate today or recently went out of business. It started off as Walter Scott creating a place for late night workers to get a bite to eat and snowballed into a mass production of dining cars in the early 1900s. I thought this undercover story was really groundbreaking, Mickey’s Diner was one of thousands of dining cars produced by Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company. So I decided to take it further and further back to when eating at a space outside of a home became a “thing.”
I thought in telling the story like this it made the timeline engage more with the reader. No longer were they reading the history of some random diner located in St. Paul, Minnesota, they were reading the history of how diners changed over time and how they became a part of the social society in the United States. Diners have became a concrete part of American culture, they’re on contemporary TV shows, they’ve been the teen hangout spot since the 1970s, it’s where major social movements were started, and they look really cool in pictures. As Americans we all have a stereotype service at diners, and what our experience will be like at one. What I wanted to do was explain that what Americans see today as something so normal, was physically constructed from basically nothing but an idea. Walter Scott changed the use of a space to fit the need of a service (the wagon to the lunch wagon) and T. H. Buckey saw a profitable business and started mass producing dining cars. The idea of diners being diners was socially constructed. Through understanding the history of Mickey’s Diner and a greater history of diners in America, a viewer is able to see how geographic imagination is in sync with a person’s race, class, gender, sexuality, and sense of embodiment and privilege, thus providing a representation of what America is.