Class of 1965 Winter 2024 Class Note

While I’m writing this from 90-degree Florida, those of you in Maine might be reading it while experiencing higher-than-average snowfall and lower-than-average temperatures, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, with blizzards in January and, maybe, March. Hope you’re staying warm!

We spent two and a half weeks driving around Ireland (the Republic and Northern) last May in what was probably our last “independent” trip, as car companies aren’t keen on renting to octogenarians. I had to get a letter from my doctor certifying my good health. To obtain that, I had to prove to a driving instructor that I knew how to manage behind the wheel, including concentrating while my passenger (the instructor) carried on a conversation with me.

I’d driven on the left before, a few times, and am adept at using a standard shift, but this was my first experience with “six on the floor.” We survived that — and had a wonderful time — but came down with COVID immediately upon our return.

Last August, I heard, coincidentally, from two Eastport, ME, natives: David Brooks and Linda Tokarz.

Dave, a brother of Lambda Chi, left Orono “as a freshly minted engineer,” worked a few years with submarine systems, then went to graduate school in Miami, where he earned a Ph.D. in physical oceanography in 1975. In 2019 he retired after 41 years as a professor at Texas A&M University. He and wife, Anne, moved to a retirement community in Ft. Myers, FL, just in time to get flooded by Hurricane Ian in September 2022.

A research program in the Gulf of Maine took Dave “home” again in 1981, and he and Anne have been summering in Boothbay Harbor ever since. Their two daughters learned to sail there, and now all six of their grandkids are into sailing and skiing.

Linda, who lives in Maryland, wrote that her Floridian son Joe went to ready her St. Augustine house for incoming guests and discovered a partially collapsed ceiling in the master bedroom “with soggy insulation everywhere.” Not three months earlier, she had shelled out over $18K for a special hurricane-resistant roof. The cause, apparently, was not the roof, but a slow leak coming from inside a boxed chimney. Oh, the joys of being an absentee owner.

It was announced last spring that retired Madawaska ski coach Howard Paradis G, then 90, would be inducted, with nine others, into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in October. Howard, who earned a graduate degree in education from UMaine, made history decades ago when he let a female student compete in a boys’ high school ski race.

According to a story in the Bangor Daily News, before girls’ teams were instituted in Maine in the early 1970s, Howard entered a freshman girl skier into an Aroostook County meet under a fake male name. Unfortunately, another skier called her out for being a female when he got close enough as she was about to leave the starting gate. She took off nevertheless and placed fifth. A man hosting the meet yelled at Howard and tore the student’s bib off, making her cry.

“They thought she might get hurt or she would embarrass the boys if she beat all those boys; it was terrible,” Howard told the BDN. “I wasn’t making a political statement or anything. I was trying to win a ski meet, and my best skier happened to be a girl.”

Howard was a junior high school math teacher in 1960 when Madawaska’s athletic director asked him to fill in as ski coach. “He found out I was a skier and told me he’d pay me $50 for the year while he would be looking for a real ski coach,” Howard told the BDN. “Every time I asked him if he found one, he said he was working on it.” Howard coached skiing there for 35 years.

And Dana Connors made news in Mainebiz last March in conjunction with his retirement from the presidency of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. As mentioned last time, the Bangor Daily News also interviewed him as he wrapped up 30 years in that position.

Until next time.