PUTNAM, Conn. (AP) — When Deary Bros. Mike's Stand opens later this month, it will be the 75th year the Putnam institution will serve up ice cream and other summer favorites.
When the stand opened on Intervale Street, just off Route 12, in 1937, it was an off-shoot of Deary Bros. milk company. The stand sold ice cream and other dairy products, current owner Mike Deary said.
"They moved the house around the corner so the stand could be near the main road," Deary said, pointing out a yellow house where one of his brothers still lives. The building the milk company operated out of is next to the house.
One of 13 children of Tom and Teddy Deary, Mike Deary said his brothers and sisters all took turns working at or running the stand. He started working at the stand in 1965 and never stopped.
"We didn't just work there, we leased the business," he said. He eventually bought the business from his parents.
"When I first started out, I'd deliver milk during the day and then go to work at the stand," he said. "It was different then. There wasn't the volume there is now."
Over the years, burgers, hot dogs and seafood were added to the menu.
Because he was an educator, Mike Deary had the work schedule that allowed him to keep running the seasonal stand. All four of his children worked at the stand at one time, and the favorite summer spot has also employed countless local teenagers through the years.
"A lot of them come in at 16 and stay through college," said Deary. "There are a ton of the family still working here. Most Sundays, a majority of the workers will be Dearys."
Matt Wester started working at Mike's Stand when he was 16. He's now 26 and has managed the stand for five years.
"I can remember being a kid and going there Friday nights for dinner," Wester said. "It's a Putnam tradition. Working there is also a rite of passage for a lot of Putnam kids."
Mike Deary retired from teaching four years ago, but he has no plans to retire from the stand. Although he lives outside Springfield, Mass., Deary is still a presence at the stand. He is also a partner at The Courthouse Bar and Grille.
"My brother saves a room for me at the house," Mike Deary said, referring to his childhood home.
As the stand marks its 75th year, Deary credits its longevity with good food and good service.
"It's a lot of work. We serve quality food, it's all made from scratch and we treat people like they should be treated," Deary said. "And people come back."
Information from: Norwich Bulletin
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