By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – About 200 juniors were treated to a unique history lesson when the second annual Hudson High School (HHS) 50th Reunion Alumni Panel was presented May 19 at the Intel Mini-Theater. Four class of 1967 alumni were introduced to the students by Todd Wallingford, curriculum director and panel moderator.
“They’re a group of individuals who began their high school career on the eve of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and lived through four years that were impactful in the history of our country,” he said. “Much of that history you studied in your courses. They’re going to bring it down to the level of what life was like in Hudson.”
Lifelong Hudson resident Ellen Bianchi DiLauro noted that her husband is also a HHS 1967 graduate. She served as a class officer, member of the Student Council and National Honor Society, and played varsity basketball, the only sport offered to girls at the time.
“I always wanted to be a teacher – and it’s a good thing,” she said. “In those days, the choices for girls were basically teaching, nursing or perhaps a secretarial/business degree. The mindset seemed to be that girls would go to college, graduate, get married, have children and be a stay-at-home mom. I got my degree in teaching and taught in Framingham for 35 years.”
Michael McGorty shared that he also married a HHS 1967 classmate. They live in Marlborough, where he served as mayor from 1994 to 1997. He compared the current HHS to the building where his class attended, which now houses C.A. Farley Elementary School.
“The HHS we graduated from was nothing like this one,” he said. “If we were at the old HHS, you’d be sitting on bleachers and we’d be down on the gym floor.”
A self-described studious “nerd” in high school, Anthony Monteiro expressed gratitude for employment immediately after graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with an engineering degree. He worked for 34 years at the Hudson Light and Power Department, ultimately retiring as manager.
“[WPI] did get enlightened by my sophomore year; they accepted two girls among 2,000 boys,” he said. “The year I graduated, ’71, jobs were hard to come by. About a third of my class actually got a job; another third went to grad school; the other third ended up in Vietnam.”
Jack Parker reminisced about the last day of school when he and his buddies violated the HHS dress code by wearing shorts and were sent home to change. He still appreciates his HHS football coach Vic Rimkus, who might have helped him get his 30-year job at the Marlborough Post Office.
“Vic gave me job references for the rest of my life,” he said. “I always got the jobs that I wanted.”
Students asked the panelists questions based on circa-‘60s newspaper articles and ads they found at the Hudson Public Library.
A 1967 newspaper clipping about Gladys and August DeSantis celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary prompted questions about small-town community: “Was the sense of community in Hudson greater than it is nowadays? Did people know their neighbors better?” DiLauro replied, “The DeSantis family was my second family. Their daughter Loretta was my best friend since we were a year old – and we still are. Community was very important then.”
When the discussion turned to the Vietnam War, each male panelist recalled getting his lottery draft number while in college: McGorty 110, Monteiro 223, and Parker 312.
Recollections of 1960s consumerism included buying 25-cents movie tickets at the Hudson Theater; working at Webster’s shoe factory for $1.25 minimum hourly wage; and paying $35 a year to insure their first car.
Among favorite leisure activities discussed were loitering on “the wall” at Main and Church streets; meeting friends after school at the Wheeler’s Pharmacy soda fountain; and swimming at Tripp’s Pond in the summer and practicing hockey in the winter.
Concluding the presentation by giving each panelist a red-and-white sweatshirt adorned with the HHS mascot, Wallingford proclaimed, “Once a Hudson Hawk, you’re always a Hudson Hawk.”