DOROTHY DOUCETTE REMEMBERS sitting in Miss Clarkin’s history class at Waterville High School in 1941 when the U.S. declared war on Japan.

Doucette, then Dorothy Brown and a high school senior, recalled President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s calling Dec. 7, 1941 “a date that will live in infamy.”

“We were young,” Doucette said. “It was a long time ago. I don’t know what we thought of the announcement, but I know what the boys were thinking. Of all the guys in our class who went to war, Richard Crocker was the only one that died.”

Doucette, now 92, spoke of World War II and other things last week as she lunched with four fellow students from the Waterville High School Class of 1942.

Sitting next to her was Burns Hillman, also 92. He remembers Crocker well.

“I put flowers on his grave every Memorial Day,” he said.

Doucette and Hillman were joined by Dollis Tardiff Bizier, Lucien Veilleux and Lucille Robichaud Cram, all 93, for the luncheon hosted by Cram’s daughter, Toni Ramundo.

Ramundo, of Winslow, is a hospice volunteer whose client is Hillman. She decided to organize the 75th class reunion lunch after she discovered that Hillman and her mother were both from the Waterville class of ’42.

Of the 214 students in the class, only about a dozen are still alive three quarters of a century later, they said.

They chatted and laughed, told stories and remembered the old days. All have lost their spouses except Bizier, whose husband, Reggie, 90, joined the group.

Ramundo did the event up in style with purple and white balloons — the Waterville High colors — billowing over the lunch table. She served salad, pea soup and chicken stew on a purple tablecloth on which she placed five little white paper totes containing mint and butterscotch candy and bearing photos of her guests when they were in high school.

They sipped tea and coffee and shared a large vanilla and chocolate cake topped with white frosting and the words “Waterville High School Class of 1942” written in purple.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Cram said of the gathering.

She and the others said that high school really wasn’t a lot different in the 1940s than it is today, though nobody had cars and everyone was poor.

“A lot of teachers had pets then,” Cram recalled. “Do you remember Cyril Joly, who later became a lawyer? He could do no wrong with Miss Warren, our teacher. She’d ask a question and we’d all raise our hands, and if he raised his hand he’d get to answer. He was a great guy. Oh, I got to know him really well when he and my husband were at Mount Saint Joseph nursing home. He was in the next room.”

Veilleux joined the U.S. Army in 1942 after graduation. When he returned home, he went to Colby College and then to medical school and became a surgeon.

“The war was terrible, but for me it was an advantage,” he said. “We didn’t have any money in those days. When you got out of the service you could get $450 a year for college, but I could go to Colby for $250, so I paid Colby from money I saved up in the service and I had enough to go to medical school. It was a blessing for me.”

Hillman also went into the service — the U.S. Marine Corps — and met his future wife, Christine Gilman, a nurse, there. She had grown up on Boutelle Avenue in Waterville. Hillman later would work at Maine Central Railroad, first as a brakeman and then a conductor. When he retired in 1983, he was a yardmaster.

Doucette would become a commercial loan teller for Federal Trust, a bank that was located where Camden National Bank now is on Main Street downtown. Cram became a registered nurse.

“It’s a very wonderful occupation,” Cram said. “I loved every minute of it.”

Bizier, now of Vassalboro, worked at C.F. Hathaway Co. shirt factory on Water Street, sewing collars and cuffs. She also taught a year in the town of Jackman. Accompanying her and her husband to the lunch was her caregiver, Anne Carter, who said she is wonderful to work with and her family is very attentive to her.

“They have seven children who are very involved and they all visit,” Carter said. “Sometimes families aren’t involved at all, but this family is very committed, very devoted.”

The group talked about the talent their peers had in high school. Veilleux played the violin and had a beautiful singing voice, they said. Cram was president of the Girls Glee Club and sang all over the state. Hillman, who was accompanied to the luncheon by his son, Bruce, played baritone horn and later played with the popular R.B. Hall Band.

When it was time to say good-bye, Veilleux thanked Ramundo and her husband, Bill, for the party and handed them a bottle of wine and loaf of bread he had made himself. After he left, Cram recalled working with Veilleux at Seton Hospital.

“He was quite a surgeon, you know,” she said. “He was fast — everything he did was fast.”

They looked through Hillman’s old, battered 1942 Waterville High School yearbook called “The Nautilus.” Interspersed between its pages were newspaper clippings bearing obituaries of those who have died.

“We paid $1 for that book,” Doucette said with a smile. “Course, that was 75 years ago.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 29 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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