The Whately Diner Burns and In the 978 Area Code, I Didn’t Even Know

I’ve spent a wonderful weekend in the 978 area code, a land called Wendell where cell phones do not function and so, I’m detached from the details of the people in my life. I casually emailed my son, asking him if he’d like to join me at the gym, a tradition we’ve established over the year.

No answer. Curious, I pulled up the Gazettenet website and found out the reason. The diner where he is a cook caught on fire early Sunday morning! WOW! With a cellphone, I probably would have known, but here in 978, that wasn’t an option. The grease fire that started in the kitchen of the 24-hour diner, also known as the Filling Station, has destroyed the whole kitchen. My son’s job as a cook will be on hiatus for weeks until they can rebuild the place.

I reached him by phone this morning and he told me how scary it was, how the flames that began as a small grease fire, they tried to quell with salt, then took out a fire extinguisher…yet a pile of grease below the grill caught fire and then boom! flames! Then the whole kitchen was filled with smoke. He was told that the fire suppression system was dry and didn’t go off, but a manager there said someone had checked them out recently and they were working.

I was comforted that he was ok, and despite the diner now being encircled with yellow tape, much to the disappointment of the hundreds of truckers who stop by there from 91, he didn’t suffer any smoke inhalation or injury.

Now I’ll make my way back to 413 and my life in the flatlands of South Deerfield. It’s different up here in 978, that I could tell when we strolled the grounds of the Garlic and Arts festival. I didn’t recognize that many people, since I’m from down in the valley and these are all 978 folks.