Reflecting on past decades at the diner

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PUTNEY — Ellie Lascore knows her customers at the Putney Diner. Even if she hasn't seen them for a few days, or even months, she remembers exactly what they usually order, and she brings exactly that unless they tell her something different. One scrambled egg with dry toast, and tea, or oatmeal with fruit on the side, and maple syrup instead of brown sugar? She knows, though she doesn't write it down.

"I don't like carrying anything," she explained in a recent interview. "Usually people get the same thing every time, and if they don't, I can still remember the changes. You used to have scrambled eggs. You never changed, and you were happier than a pig in [expletive]."

Lascore will be retiring in mid-December, and she reflected on her long career, which started in Connecticut when she was 16, at an A&W — "a root-beer place with skates," as she put it. "I had skates — I loved it, it was a fun job. But I felt better when I was on my regular feet."

She moved to Brattleboro in 1963 and worked at the Riverview Diner, the present site of the Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery.

"I worked there for 19 years," she said. "I loved that place — that's where I met everyone in Brattleboro. And then I came up here to Putney and met more people."

Except for a brief time away when she was ill, she's been working at the diner since 1990.

"The diner has been through a lot of different owners," Lascore commented. "Now it's Eleni, who's an excellent boss. She runs the place right, she doesn't leave anybody out, she never gets mad at anybody — she takes care of everything. I enjoy her, and everybody does."

Lascore said the best part of her job is the people she serves.

"I like the customers — I love the customers," she said. "I love when new ones come in, and I love when the old ones come in, because I know I did something right."

While she easily memorizes orders, she doesn't always remember customers' names. "I'm terrible with names," she said. "I call 'em 'Toots' or 'Hon' if I can't remember their names."

She teases everyone. Bringing a plate of steak to a table, she asked a customer, "Would you like some steak sauce? Would you like a knife to cut the steak with ... or are you just going to rip it right apart?"

Lascore's last full shift at the diner will be on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

"I'll be moving to Hinsdale, Rolling Hills, right across the street from my granddaughter," she said.

"She's a big help."

She's looking forward to having time to read and watch movies.

"Winter's coming, so I probably won't be leaving my house that much," she commented. "I like Danielle Steele, Fern Michaels — I like a lot of books. I like all the sappy ones."

As for movies, "I want to see 'Wonder.' I hear Reese Witherspoon has a movie out, too."

Looking back on her working life, Lascore is content.

"I'm very happy. I've been lucky in the people I've met," she said. "I had a good time in my life, waiting on people, and that's all I wanted to do."

Maggie Brown Cassidy, a frequent contributor to the Reformer, can be reached at mcassidy@sover.net.

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