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Meet Larry Cultrera

Today we’d like to introduce you to Larry Cultrera.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I have been documenting roadside places with my photographs since 1980, concentrating the main focus on Diners. Growing up in the Boston area in the 1950s and 1960s, my interest in Diners can be traced back to my youth. Back when I was around 5 or 6 years of age, my father informed me about them. He told me they were prefabricated restaurants that had a resemblance to railroad cars. That the factories that built them consciously designed them with similar styling. When I was a teenager, I frequented the Star Lite Diner, Bobbie’s Diner and sometimes Carroll’s Colonial Dining Car, all in my hometown of Medford.

During high school and the years following, Carroll’s Diner became a favorite hang-out as it was open 24-7. Between 1971 and 1979, I drove used cars, In April of 1979, I bought my first brand-new vehicle, a 1979 blue Chevy Van, the new vehicle allowed me to increase the scope of my wandering, as well as the frequency of taking road trips, traveling the back roads and exploring more. In late 1979, my pal Steve Repucci started accompanying me on my Sunday morning rides and it was his influence that led me to take up 35mm photography. On these Sunday morning rides, we usually started out by going to breakfast at a local Diner. After a couple of weeks, we decided to try to go to different Diners which in turn eventually determined the direction to head out for our ride. It was during this time that I decided to start taking photos of Diners. This happened after Steve moved to Harrisburg, PA in September of 1980.

The first Diner photo was of the Bypass Diner of Harrisburg on November 29, 1980. Since then I have photographed approximately 860 plus places. The photos were originally 35mm prints for around 3 years, then I switched to 35mm slide film. I started experimenting with digital photography toward the end of the 1990s (while still shooting 35mm slides). I switched to digital totally in 2008. I joined the Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA) in 1981. The SCA is an international organization based in the U.S. that is dedicated to documenting and preserving the roadside environment that was heavily influenced by automobile travel in the 20th century.

I became the first regular contributor to the SCA publications with my Diner Hotline column at the end of 1988. I retired the column in August of 2007 and started the Diner Hotline Weblog on October 31, 2007. In 2011, I was approached by The History Press to write what would become my first book, Classic Diners of Massachusetts. I wrote a second book, New Hampshire Diners, Classic Granite State Eateries in 2014 for them as well. In the last 2 or 3 years I have been scanning all my photos and slides to create a digital archive. At this time, the slides scanning is complete and I am working on the 35mm prints.

Please tell us about your art.
I have always viewed my diner and roadside photographs as a personal research project as well as a way of preserving for posterity things that seem to be disappearing with more and more frequency as the years go by. In the current compiling of my digital photo archive, I see how many of these places I have photographed have either been moved (and sometimes been reused), changed or entirely don’t exist anymore. This makes what I have documented seem extremely important.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have given the occasional power point presentation to various libraries, historical societies, etc. I also post a lot of my photos on my personal Facebook page as well as other Facebook pages I have such as, Diner Hotline, Got Diners? and one for each of my 2 books. Then there is also my Diner Hotline Blog ( I do have Twitter and Instagram accounts but rarely use them.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Larry Cultrera

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1 Comment

  1. Marisa

    September 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    What a great story !! I can’t wait to get this book !
    I love diners…….it must run in the family as Larry and I are cousins !

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