|By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday , October 26, 2000; Page M27
Lincoln got his face on the five-spot. Ford is remembered for his car. Penn gave his name to a commonwealth, Fender to an electric guitar. Hey, immortality is where you find it, and these days a comic strip's as good a place as any.
So it is that Silver Spring's Tastee Diner, already famed for its longevity, chipped beef and spectacular relocation last summer from on block to another, achieved everlasting renown this week in the syndicated comic strip "Zippy the Pinhead."
The diner was featured in the Sunday edition of the offbeat strip, which is syndicated in about 200 newspapers, as a result of its Connecticut author's eccentricities and a local man's brainstorm.
And why not, said Jerry A. McCoy, president of the Silver Spring Historical Society, who started the whole thing: Now the diner "will live forever in microfilm all across America." Said Tastee owner Gene Wilkes, who notes that business, after the move, is still on the rebound: "We enjoy any and all publicity that we can get."
The Washington Post carries Zippy daily but not Sunday. So Sunday's Zippy is reprinted here.
First, a bit about the diner.
Last June, it made headlines when it was loaded aboard a giant trailer and carted from 8516 Georgia Ave. to a new location three blocks away at 8601 Cameron St. The diner had been on Georgia Avenue for five decades, slinging chipped beef and pork chops, chicken and dumplings and hometown, stainless-steel ambience.
It was threatened, though, when Discovery Inc., decided to move its headquarters from Bethesda to Silver Spring and use the land on which the diner stood. "We didn't own the land," Wilkes said.
But Tastee, one of the country's few remaining classic diners, had been named a Montgomery County Historic Landmark in 1994.
So on June 17, aided by funding from the county and state, the diner was hoisted onto a trailer and, while fans watched and police blocked traffic, was hauled a half-mile to the former parking lot that would be its new home.
Enter Jerry McCoy, champion of Silver Spring's history and loyal Zippy reader.
McCoy knew that Zippy's creator, Brooklyn-born Bill Griffith, a former West Coast underground cartoonist, had a thing for old-time eateries. "He has a great love of diners," McCoy said Monday. "He always incorporates diners into the story lines of his cartoons. You'll inevitably see Zippy sitting at a counter having a doughnut or a cup of coffee. He routinely draws actually named diners from all across America."
"When they moved the Tastee Diner back in June, I thought, 'Boy, this would be a great plot for one his strips,' " McCoy said. "I thought it was quite an unusual scene when it was rolling down Georgia Avenue."
Griffith said he has met several microcephalics. "They tend to be happy in a kind of out-of-control way," he said. "They're very verbal, with extremely short attention spans.