Ayer Nostalgia

Please indulge me for a moment.  This post has nothing at all to do with Flannagan Pond; but it has a great deal to do with the character of the Town of Ayer.

Almost 50 years ago, when I was in my early teens I used to work for Kendall Pierce who owned the Newspaper store on Main Street. It was in the Page Block at the time.

In the wee hours of every Sunday morning a bunch of us boys would unload the trucks coming into town with the Boston Herald, the Boston Advertiser and the Boston Globe. We would manually insert the ads and magazine sections into the news section that was right off the press.  The New York Times and the New York News would arrive last by Trailways Bus.

We then counted off papers and tied them off in bundles and and loaded three or four panel trucks and dropped off papers to several stores in Ayer, Groton and Harvard. But the big job was home delivery to hundreds and hundreds of Officer’s and NCO’s homes all over Devens.

But before I started all that work with the guys, I always sat at the counter and had breakfast at the Park Street Diner.  Bacon, Eggs, Homefries, Toast, Orange Juice and a slice of pie.  I didn’t like coffee back then, Starbucks had not yet been invented.  Back in the day, before we were nagged about cholesterol and saturated fats, a hearty breakfast like this fueled America’s working force.  Back in those days, a breakfast like that was about a buck and a quarter. Now it’s closer to ten bucks. I believe the diner was owned by Lester Berry.  It is now the site of the Sovereign Bank at the corner of Park and Main Streets.

So what prompted me to write this piece.  Well a few weeks back, while Googling for unrelated information I came upon a website about old diners; this feature in particular is about the old Park Street Diner.  It reminded me of a simpler time.  For some of you it’s something you never heard of, for others it’s a look in the rear-view mirror of life in Ayer. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires you to cook up a pan of bacon.  I expect to smell it wafting through the neighborhood when I leave for work in the morning.



About saveourpond

I am a lifelong resident of Ayer who lives on Flanagan's Pond.
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14 Responses to Ayer Nostalgia

  1. I am glad my post on the Park Street Diner (in my Diner Hotline Weblog) brought back memories for you.

  2. saveourpond says:

    Larry, I loved the Park Street Diner story. The Park Street Diner is a classic example of not knowing what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. Keep up the great work, your site is most fascinating.


  3. Jeremy Callahan says:

    Hi Chuck!

    I have foggy memories of the Park Street Diner but I am told it was open 24 hours. Wouldn’t it be great to again have a 24 hour diner in the middle of Ayer?

    I couldn’t resist responding to your note as it relates to Flanagan Pond. Fifty years ago property owners along Flanagan Pond chipped in and cooperated each other to remove weed from Flanagan Pond. If you don’t believe me, just ask around. I do agree, things certainly have changed in Ayer!

    Jeremy Callahan

    • saveourpond says:


      I cannot comment regarding the facts of whether or not this did in fact happen about fifty years ago. But this I do know, 50 years ago we had no EPA, no DEP, no Conservation Commission and no Wetlands Protection Bylaw. So if a band of neighbors wished to do something they were certainly free to mobilize more easily without being strangled or even penalized by the massive tangle of laws and bureaucracy in place today. It is also worth noting that the invasion of milfoil and fanwort was not a factor back in those days.

      Now go cook some bacon and eggs, that’s what this post was about. I like my eggs sunny-side up and my bacon crispy.


      • Jeremy Callahan says:

        I will add one more thing Chuck. 50 years ago there wasn’t as much run-off from streets and yards into Flanagan Pond. Our wicked smart Superintendent of Public Works Dan Nason has some good ideas as to how Ayer might improve its management of stormwaters running into waterways all over Town. I strongly encourage your readers to educate themselves on his efforts and support them. This would help Flanagan Pond tremendously.

      • Jeremy Callahan says:

        As much as this hurts to say, you are entirely correct.

  4. A Sportsman says:

    Exactly right, IMHO this current mess was caused by the town. This isn’t really a money issue but one of poor governing. Because I live on waterfront property I pay additional taxes. Because of the CPA I pay additional taxes some of which is to go to preserve open spaces. Common sense doesn’t cost anything!

  5. A Sportsman says:

    Flannagans may just need that storm water run-off. Last year the town opened the dam and for months forgot to close it. Thus, storm water may be what has saved the pond so far. I suggest getting back to the basics and rather than continue to impose additional rules and regulations just pay attention to what works, common sense planning.

    • Jeremy Callahan says:

      Dear Sportsman:

      The problem is, storm water run-off includes fertilizer, which is awesome for weeds. This becomes more true as development of land in town increases. As time goes on, the best thing for Flanagan Pond is to make sure run-off is diverted to the treatment plant in Ayer. In the past, the “basics” worked great. Today, given the amount of development and the extent to which land is fertilized, we need to give more attention to how we handle run-off. Perhaps we could share some of the treated water from the waste water treatment plant with Flanagan Pond to make sure water levels are sufficient to keep weeds from growing.


      Jeremy Callahan
      Planning Board

  6. A Sportsman says:

    Well, if storm water run-off w/fertilizer was an issue then wouldn’t it show up in the chemistry statistics? Chemical analysis of the water in Flannagans has been done in recent years which I suggest doesn’t even come close to supporting this being an issue. Unless you have information that hasn’t been revealed, making unsubstantiated claims does your cause more harm than good. The ConsCom burned that bridge when they addressed the residents at town hall this past year when they made the same claim that the weed problem was caused by fertilizer run-off from resident yards. IMHO, Ayer tries to use too much subjective theory to support the cause of the day. Some old fashioned straight talk needs to be used. Also, I’ll be bold and inform you adding treated water from the treatment plant will destroy the wildlife population of the pond. You totally blew your credibility making that suggestion. You sound like the know it experts who said importing carp would be good for the USA lakes because they would eat the weeds.

  7. Jeremy Callahan says:

    So you think I used to be credible? That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said!

  8. A Sportsman says:

    Some who have taken advantage of me have learned a flaw of mine is that I respect and even trust in everybody until I am burned then I never forgive or forget (a worse flaw). AND I will work tirelessly until things are put right. I do provide some flexibility for those who have good intentions as long as they maintain an open mind.
    I have been reading some on the storm water run-off issue and it is a mess made worse by towns that in my opinion think they have to go to extremes to resolve. I wonder if a survey is done, not by hiring consultants, and backed up by chemical analysis that we could meet at least the spirit of the EPA requirements without destroying our open spaces and resources. I think these storm water run-off and green initiatives are well intended but since they are made by people many times by those who think they know it all, the result is worse than the problem they try to fix.

  9. Harold Hanley says:

    Wow! i just left a large post about the diner on this other website I just happened across. I’ve been looking for anything I could on the diner that I used to go to when I was stationed at Ft. Devens from 1970-1971. Can anyone help me get in on this discussion?
    I’m leaving this posting now and I would like to leave my Email address here, too. I’d like to make it possible form anyone to contact me about this wonderful, historic home away from home that it was for me during those years.
    I’m even going to try and leave my comment right here that I referred to so everyone can see it. I told my short story about me and my times at the diner. Here it is:

    Hello! I found it! The Park Street Diner was one place I used to visit every weekend when I was stationed at Ft. Devens which would have been from of September of 1970 to April of 1971. After which I was shipped out to Ft. Myer, VA where I stayed until I got out of the service.

    I was too young to drink liquor, and couldn’t go drinking with my buddies, so the diner became my home away from home, so to speak. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Friendly folks always made me feel at home. Got to know some of the townsfolk, and even a young woman who used to go there that I got friendly with. I’m having trouble remembering her name, but I will eventually. She lived walking-distance from the diner, which many folks in the town also did.

    I even contacted someone from your city government, a Mr. Shaun Suhoski, when I was trying to find information about the Town of Ayer, and how it is today. You might say I was on an internet pilgrimage looking for people and places I used to know who remain very dear to me to this day. Mr. Suhoski was very helpful and sent me information and answered my questions happily. When I asked him about the diner, he only said it was now a bank.

    I was only 17-18 years old during this time. There were some other places I was trying to find out about, too. One of them was the little USO in the town near the diner. I vaguely recall everything about the town. But I would love to go back there some day for a visit. The Park Street Diner will always be a pleasant memory since it was the first place I would head to when I left the post, now called “Devens”, and enjoy many visits.

    I hope my letter here will be the beginning of many talks I would like to have about the Diner and it’s people, and the Town of Ayer, MA. Whoever reads this, please feel free to contact me at any time. I would love to hear from anyone who shares this time and place for the memory it provides me in a very memorable time of my life!

    I haven’t logged in, so I will have to become a member. I hope I don’t lose this letter trying. If it does get through, I will leave my Email address here for anyone interested in contacting me.
    Email address: hhanley007@comcast.net

    Thank you for being there! Sincerely, Harold J. Hanley

  10. saveourpond says:


    Thanks for leaving your comments. I am a lifelong “Townie” from Ayer. Ironically when you were here I was away in the service too; away from Ayer, stationed in Grand Forks, ND. I also had a couple of diners that I liked out there, for the same reasons you stated.


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