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The Town of Ayer, MA and Camp Devens - 1918

Broadway - The Main Street of Ayer, Massachusetts.

Broadway - The Main Street of Ayer, Massachusetts. GGA Image ID # 139fa8a3c9

The little town has changed greatly since June, 1917, when business was humdrum and life was unexciting. Now the soldier-population of 30,000 men has removed from this street many traces of its former rusticity.

Boston merchants rented stores and equipped them in the true metropolitan fashion. The town merchants, fearing this competition, brushed the cobwebs from their windows, stocked up with every necessity and luxury, and installed electric milk-shakers and cash registers.

There now seems to be a race between the natives and the visiting merchants to see which can charge the highest prices for their wares; at last reports the local tradesmen were miles ahead.

Automobile Row - At the Train Station in Ayer.

Automobile Row - At the Train Station in Ayer. GGA Image ID # 139fc15064

The prospective visitor at Camp Devens, upon arriving at the station, falls prey to that species of vulture commonly known as the jitney driver. These motorists were formerly the farm hands, station agents and second-story men of the vicinity. When the troops came to Ayer, they purchased jitneys which were in every stage of dilapidation and inaugurated a motor service to and from the camp.

At first, they charged the soldiers atrocious prices, but eventually the various units purchased huge 'busses of their own and ran in competition. The stranger will do well to assure himself before embarkation that he will be charged only the fixed price of twenty-five cents, and to renew his life insurance policy before venturing on the perilous journey.

Army Mules Pull a Supply Wagon through Ayer.

Army Mules Pull a Supply Wagon through Ayer. GGA Image ID # 139fd3604c

It is a common thing to see the heavy, rumbling supply wagons in the streets of Ayer, bringing rations and other necessities to the camp. They are drawn by the most efficient, yet the most vicious, beasts of burden on earth — the government army mules.

View of the Main Gate to Camp Devens.

View of the Main Gate to Camp Devens. GGA Image ID # 13a05889f1

If the visitor arrives by trolley at the camp, he leaves the car at this gate; practically all traffic enters and leaves here, with the exception of the Sunday rush, when the upper gate is pressed into active service. Military police, wearing the blue arm band inscribed "M. P.," are constantly on guard.

An Army Truck Rolling Through Camp Devens - "Gangway!"

An Army Truck Rolling Through Camp Devens - "Gangway!" GGA Image ID # 13a2561382

This huge truck, belonging to the Quartermaster's Department, is one of the hundred such vehicles which are at Camp Devens.

More speedy than the mules of former days, and of greater capacity than the mule-drawn supply-wagons, they are almost universally used for trucking in places where the condition of the roads permit.

One sees many of them daily at Ayer, rumbling along, the chains jingling noisily, and at a rate of speed which makes life miserable for the unwary pedestrian.

 

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