Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Alpharetta's Dixie Diner

The Dixie Diner had been an Alpharetta icon since 1964. You could walk in on any given morning and find an eclectic mix of locals from farmers to businessmen... all sharing in some coffee and some comfort food to help them jump start their busy day.

I'd been meaning to photograph the diner since I began this project in 2007. But, by the time I made my way back to Alpharetta from California, the diner was gone. One of Alpharetta's last ties to its small-town country past finally gave up the ghost to progress and development.

The empty lot has since been paved, but nothing has moved in to take its place. So, I took advantage of a break in the rainy weather and walked from Wills Park up to the sacred spot where The Dixie Diner once stood. It was a beautiful morning, and I was rewarded with the gentle scent of honeysuckle and the delicate white flowers of wild blackberry growing on the side of the road. Everything was covered in morning dew, and the sun was just beginning to peek above the treeline.

To truly understand why I took a photograph of an empty lot, one would have to know The Dixie Diner... or at least have fond memories of a beloved old diner in their own hometown. Just like the smell of a warm apple pie can bring back childhood memories of your grandmother baking in the kitchen, a photograph of a favorite place can conjure up its own memories of good times and good friends long forgotten.

I wish I could provide you an old photograph of the Dixie Diner from its heyday, but all I could dig up was a shot of the original building, back when it was a Jolly Chef. Yet another reason The Vanishing America Project is so important... Without photos and stories as reminders, the memories of Alpharetta's Dixie Diner will fade away with the passing of each generation.