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Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

The student news site of Wayland High School

Wayland Student Press

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Opinion: A tribute to the Route 27 plaza

Credit: Andry Nasief
Guest writer Ellie Brogan discusses her personal ties to the Route 27 plaza and her reaction to the fire that occurred on Oct. 3.

I live near downtown Wayland, otherwise known as Cochituate. I have lived here my whole life, and I know the area like the back of my hand. For as long as I can remember, the plaza containing Liberty Pizza, Family Farms, International Auto Body shop and Wayland Town Cleaners has been a consant while everything else seemed to come and go. This plaza served as a permanent landmark on Route 27. That is, until the fire on Oct. 3 burnt it down.

When I heard about the fire, I was sitting at Wayland High School waiting for a ride home. I had no idea how bad the inferno was until I saw the plume of smoke rising above the treetops on Old Connecticut Path, drifting in yellowish-gray clouds as my mom and I drove down Main Street.

When we reached the intersection of West Plain and Route 27, my confusion and shock turned into horror and grief.

So many memories came flooding back as we drove by the emergency services that worked tirelessly to prevent further damage. Memories of getting pizza with a family friend when I was three, and memories of talking about TV shows with my friend inside Liberty’s Pizza flashed through my mind. I remembered buying candy after school from Honey Farms before it was bought out and rebranded as Family Farms, and going with my mom to the International Auto Body shop to pick up her repaired car after an accident.

Even the most mundane tasks were memorable to me because of my connection to the plaza. Instead of foul smoke, I recalled the nostalgic smell of the mixture of air conditioning and packaged food that filled Honey Farms on a hot summer day as my brother and I looked for sugary treats. I could remember the relief of stepping onto Liberty’s tiled floors for lunch, and the air conditioning rescuing my friend and I from the late spring heat as we sat down at the vibrant, red tables.

I walked by the plaza what must have been hundreds of times over countless summers. Honey Farms was one of the first places I visited by myself when I was younger, testing my independence for the first time. The plaza was a landmark to look for on car rides, the red and yellow emblems of Honey Farms and Liberty’s Pizza indicating that I was almost home after long drives. Even if the businesses were not my favorite, I still regarded them fondly as major childhood landmarks.

And now those memories are marked by the date Oct. 3. Even if International Auto Body and the adjacent businesses are rebuilt, I will always remember the sight of smoke rising from the auto shop, and the booming crash of the collapsing building.

It fills me with relief that all employees of the establishments managed to escape the fire safely, as all businesses were open at the time.

If you would like to support Joe Gagliardi and the International Auto Body shop, please donate here.

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About the Contributor
Andry Nasief
Andry Nasief, Webmaster
Andry Nasief, Class of 2024, is the webmaster for WSPN. He enjoys programming, photo editing and web design. Andry is also the technical director for WayCAM TV and the Senior Show. Outside of the digital realm, he loves to spend time with his friends by mountain biking, playing soccer and watching movies. Contact: [email protected]
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  • D

    DanielDec 19, 2023 at 11:13 AM

    Eleanor — Thank you for this lovely tribute to the Route 27 plaza and its businesses. Having grown up in Cochituate in the 1970s, I had similar experiences at Honey Farms and Liberty — and have equally warm memories of that time and this place. I imagine there are many others like us. Take care.

    “There are places I’ll remember
    All my life, though some have changed.
    Some forever, not for better;
    Some have gone and some remain.”