CHS graduates share 75 years of Class at Crosswinds
FORT KENT, Maine — There aren’t many classmates who have the opportunity to reminisce with one another about their high-school days 75 years after graduation.
Fort Kent Community High School Class of 1942 members Claude Dumond, Gertrude (Jandreau) Picard and Alberie Nadeau are able to do just that on a regular basis, as all are now residents of Crosswinds Residential Care Center.
Much has changed since these classmates, who have 15 children and 186 years of marriage between them, made their way to Crosswinds, including their plans for the future as they envisioned them back then.
“I planned to be in agriculture; in fact my diploma was in agriculture. I planned to be a farmer. Instead I became a town manager,” said Dumond, who served the Town of Fort Kent for 18 years in that role.
Dumond’s agricultural aspirations stemmed from his childhood on the family farm in New Canada.
“Farming was a big thing back then. I remember in the basement we had an incubator. We were selling our own chickens, hatching them and selling them,” Dumond said.
With World War II underway at the time of their graduation, farming was the furthest thing from Nadeau’s mind. Instead, he eagerly undertook the role of a military serviceman.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to be. First thing I did — I went into the service. I enlisted in the Air Force,” Nadeau said. “I had an older brother on the farm. I decided to take his place (in the war) because I was not interested in farming.”
Nadeau later served as an oil delivery man in the St. John Valley for 18 years and after that worked for the Town of Fort Kent for 18 years in the wastewater department.
“Claude was my boss. He was a good boss,” Nadeau said.
“He was a good worker too- reliable,” Dumond added.
Occupational uncertainty knew no gender bounds in the 1940s, according to Picard.
“I thought about becoming a teacher after high school, but the traveling and all that jazz,” she said. “My brother had a small filling station and he wanted me to work in there. For money, you did anything. I went to work in there and I did that for quite awhile.”
There was also pressure for her to marry.
“I‘d been called an old maid for quite awhile,” Picard said.
The age at which she did marry her husband, Euclide Picard, back in 1958 was young by today’s standards and there was a practical reason for her decision to postpone marriage.
“I was 33 years old. There were no men around; everybody was at war,” she said.
Together, Gertrude and Euclide Picard had one daughter.
Nadeau enjoyed marriage to his wife, Geneva Michaud, for an astonishing 68 years. Together, they had six children.
Dumond was married to his loving wife, the former Annette Jandreau, for nearly as long. The couple were married for 66 years, and had eight children.
“We had a nice life,” Dumond said.
Dumond, Picard and Nadeau attended school at a time when free or reduced-price hot lunches did not exist in the education lexicon, let alone the lunchroom. Families were on their own to provide meals for their children.
“There was no cafeteria there,” said Dumond of his high-school. “We brought our lunch. Our mother made sure that we had a lunch.”
“We usually had an apple for the afternoon,” Picard added.
Like any high-schoolers, the Class of 1942 had opinions about their teachers, which remain all these years later.
For Dumond, one teacher made all the difference: Miss Vogt.
“I was bashful back then. I was supposed to do a book report and I learned it by heart. She said ‘from now on this is the kind of book report I want.’ It gave me confidence in myself,” Dumond said.
Nadeau’s favorite teacher was Mrs. Crocker, who may very well have saved his life in the war by teaching him to type.
“When I went in the service I got a job doing typing. I was a clerk in the outfit because I knew how to type. That helped me,” he said. “She was a good person. She was likeable.”
Picard has memories of her own regarding Mrs. Crocker, and they do not necessarily measure up to the positive ones which Nadeau shared.
“She had taken the cover off a typewriter because she thought I was cheating,” Picard said. “And I was.”
The years have not faded the classmates’ sense of camaraderie, and they enjoy reconnecting while at Crosswinds, according to Dumond.
“Once in awhile we’ll get together and reminisce about this or that. It makes us happy, of course; we still remember,” he said.