When we go skiing, we often stop on the way home at the unpretentious “Wagon Wheel Country Drive-in” diner in a little town called Gill, MA. Here’s a photo of the cozy interior – distinctly un-dinerish, I think.
This place is special for several reasons, in addition to that wonderful wood stove which we appreciate so much after skiing. I will begin with the food, which was “farm to table” before everyone started doing it. If you order a burger, the beef will be grass fed and from just up the road. Let’s just say that everything is delicious and interesting.
But then there’s the decor. This restaurant is filled with collections. In the front section, the walls are covered with paint by number paintings. I used to love doing these as a child, and many of those hanging on the walls I recognize from having done them myself. (I can still remember the smell of the tiny pots of paint.) Remember the horse? And the German Shepherds? Do kids still do these? Do they even sell them anymore?
When I look at these, I can’t help wondering about the people who created them. Are they from around here? Are they still alive? How did their work end up at the Wagon Wheel? Same for the paint by numbers. Those must have been done decades ago.
When we first discovered this diner, I was delighted to see the attention and care the owners had taken in decorating the place. That attention to detail is reflected in the food, of course, but seeing these bits of creativity on the walls, many of which seem so personal, makes the experience more special. A little poignant, too.