He explained, "it was a labor of love. When I get on something, I don't stop. I'm a restorer of antique cars and motorcycles (a classic understatement – as he is a powerhouse in the antique car world, hob-knobbing with the likes of Jay Leno and other celebrity enthusiasts) and wondered where all the trolley cars went?"
He continued, "I was told that they all went to South America, so I started looking into it. I did a lot of research."
It paid off.
When his son and his friend started peeling the old paint off the window sashes, they discovered that there was a number stenciled underneath: "1068."
A little further research revealed that that was the number of the first of 31 Bradley cars produced (they produced numbers 1068 to 1099). It would be the only survivor.
When Dick Shappy asked me to come see that car, knowing my background in West Warwick, I was startled at what I saw: he meticulously restored every hinge, every window (86 of them were restored with original glass), every unique floorboard, and every working platform, including the old mechanical counters. (Not an easy task, as when they converted it initially into a diner, they chopped off the front and rear of the car, as well as some of the undercarriage).
He even painstakingly replaced some of the original advertising signage that appeared on the curved wall slots, and also retained some of the diner's memorabilia including ash trays and the original sign.
Once he adds the wheels, it will be an exact restoration.
Asked what he will do with it after spending years completing it as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars, he was quick to reply: "I will eventually donate it to the Trolley Museum in Branford, Connecticut." A generous donation, to say the least.
And a fitting end for the first Osgood Bradley.
As for those of us who lived in West Warwick and surrounding areas, that number "1068" will always be the Veteran's Square Diner.
A place where we grew up, heard the Gospel according to Sammy Richer over tasty eggs and bacon, and the place full of characters who helped shape a community.
And, oh yes, the place where hundreds of people pleaded with the Richer family to make "just one more" tourtiere during the holiday season.
Readers can follow the ongoing restoration of the trolley by clicking here