Deary Bros. Lives on at Mike's  
Thursday, May 30, 2002

So I've Heard Column

I ordered ice cream the day I stood at a service window to Deary Bros. Mike's Stand in Putnam, Conn., so I ignored the folded, printed menu in a counter stand-up box.
Some three weeks elapsed before I learned Mike's Stand is celebrating the 65th anniversary of another stand, the one-time Deary Bros. ice cream place on Dudley's West Main Street, opened in 1937 by Deary Bros. Dairy founders Thomas and James Deary, or Old Tom and Old Jim, as they became known in Deary lore. Young Tom, Mike's father and Old Tom's son, might be a senior in a chronological sense, but he'll always be Young Tom to people retelling the Deary story.
I might have stumbled on, unaware of Mike's celebration of Deary's Dudley beginning if Dorothy B. Morse wasn't partial to Mike's lobster rolls. Ms. Morse, children's librarian at the Webster public library, and her stepmother, Barbara M. (Deary) Morse, visit the Putnam stand most weekends. "We go there quite often," Ms. Morse says.
Oh, yes, the Deary history is on the back of the six section menu that I ignored. Cousin Barbara, Mike's self-appointed Webster publicity person, ferried a bunch of the menus to the Massachusetts side of the state line.
Old Tom and Old Jim bottled milk and other dairy products, delivering house to house for 24 years before going into the ice cream business. The milk dairy dated to 1913. They started at Liberty Farm, somewhere near the four corners to Old Southbidge Road and Route 31, Milton Perry, Old Jim's son-in-law, once told me.
I share a Deary Bros. memory with a lot of the kids who lived in Webster and Dudley during World War II. Gasoline was rationed, and vehicular traffic was all but nonexistant, particularly on Sunday afternoons. Besides, who was old enough to drive?
Friends gathered along Webster's Main Street, joined by others as they walked along West Main Street to Deary's, located then on the lot just before the Dudley Post Office. A dime bought a cone of ice crean big enough to lick and nibble all the way back to Webster. Vanilla was my favorite.
Young Tom's son has something to celebrate. The Putnam Deary Bros. is just off Route 12. A current day's walk to Deary's, replicating distance to the WW II jaunts so many Webster-Dudley people remember, would probably start near the Wal-Mart on Putnam Route 44.
Someone driving down Webster's Brandes Street on a recent evening may have thought John William Guy was developing a pantomime act.
Actually, the Providence native was describing a shadow baseball game, as presented by a traveling baseball team years ago. "I was a kid and it was between games to a double header," said Mr. Guy. "It seemed so real they had you looking for the ball. The players all had beards, like Santa Claus."
No one in this area has ever heard of shadow baseball, Mr. Guy said. "I've been asking around."
Andrew K. O'Keefe, the long time educator, has returned to his job as managing director of the Greater Worcester Farmers' Markets.
Mr. O'Keefe, who settled in Dudley after joining the former Webster Academy faculty in the early 1960s, is remembered for his work with the fledging Dudley-Charlton School District. He was chairman of the original Shepherd Hill Regional High School School Building Committee.
Mr. O'Keefe and his wife, Edith O'Keefe, promoted educational tours to Russia during the Cold War, and became a media source when stories required an understanding of the former USSR.
The Farmers' Markets will open its 2002 season at Basketville in Sturbridge June 13, says Mr. O'Keefe. Strawberries will arrive a week later, June 20, when the first of the farmers events and festivals will be held, also in Sturbridge. Blueberry, Peach and Corn, and Apple festivals are also planned.
The Farmers' Markets job is maybe 10 hours a week most months of the year, with a lot of work at thi
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