Richard J. Dick, DMD
by Carlene (Kitty) Dick, his wife
He was born on the wrong side of the tracks in a small ramshackle house owned by his paternal grandfather. He had brothers ("pee to") Franklin and (Teddy) Frederick, plus his mother & father. He talked about getting wood & water from the river for the laundry. I think everything was quite basis for them but he had a happy, carefree childhood. There were many kids in the neighborhood and they were in and out of each other's homes. He collected parts and made his own bicycle. He learned to swim in the river - diving off the logs and basically running free.
He went to Training School and liked it. He could remember where he sat in every room, the teacher and the subjects. A fantastic memory. I think things went along pretty smoothly until his mother Stella got TB and had to go to the sanitorium. He spoke of walking all the way out there to visit her. His father Frank was a chef and a hard worker, but had an alcohol problem. Dick's mother came home for a visit and got pregnant and shortly after the baby, Janice, was born, Stella died. Dick was only 15 and things fell apart for them. Pete left school and went to Portland to their Aunt Ruby's and he worked there. Frank took Teddy and went into the woods to work. Dick stayed in school (PIHS) for his junior year, mainly because of basketball, and lived with friends - the Frazier family and the Beaulieu family, until school year ended. He then went to Portland, as his father had ended up there. Dick started in Deering High School but only stayed until the Christmas break. I think things weren't going well with his Dad and so he decided to hitchhike to Florida until June, when he would be drafted. He never talked much about the war years. He told me some amusing things which I will try to remember.
He hitchhiked back from Florida, stayed with his Aunt Annie in New York for awhile and got back to Portland in time to enlist in the Navy on June 8, 1943. He knew he would be drafted into the Army on his birthday, if he didn't enlist first in the Navy.
At the induction center he was sent to the Hospital Corp School in Portsmouth, VA. (Note: 1st big life changing thing) He was then attached to the Marine Corp, as the Marines don't have their own school.
He then was sent to Newport, RI for training, and after that he was sent to the Marine Corp "boot" camp at Camp Lejeune, NC. In February of 1944 he was sent to Pearl Harbor. He loved it there, but on June 2nd he boarded the USS Rebin Wently and was sent into the invasion of Saipan.
One day they were unloading a large barrel of oil and he dropped one on his big toe. He said that it hurt something awful but he couldn't do anything about it. He was diving for a "fox hole" one night and stubbed his toe and another "life changing event" happened. He said that he ever got out of this mess - he was going to make something of his life. After they secured the island, he worked with Dr. Mallett, a dentist and so another "life changing". He really enjoyed the work and that was when he decided on what he wanted for his career in the future. He had a rather close call there one day. He was using an outdoor shower, bent over to pick up the soap just as a bullet went where his head had been. He also got a bad case of Denjue Fever on Okinawa. He remembered them gathering up the "gook" bodies and burning them. Didn't like that much but there was no other alternative because there were so many of them. Many Okinawians leaped from the cliffs and died.
In Oct. 1945, he boarded another ship and was sent to Taku, China. He was stationed at Tientsin, China. He had to do a lot of "short arm" inspections which made him very leery of casual sex. He did have a girlfriend named Helen - she was "white russian" but spoke very good English. He was in China Oct. 1945 until March at which time the war was really over. He saw a lot of China i.e. the Forbidden City and other landmarks. He said it was really cold, not much snow but a very blustery wind.
He arrived by troop ship back to San Diego on Feb. 4, 1946. He then had 30 days before discharge. He went by train across the country, sitting up and hot and miserable. He got his discharge on March 23, 1946 at the Fargo Bldg. in Boston, Mass.
THE COLLEGE YEARS!
He returned to Presque Isle the summer of 1946 and stayed with his Aunt Lee Theriault. He then applied to Aroostook Normal School (now UMPI). Mr. Wieden accepted him on probation and his scholastic record was very sketchy. He got his GED because of the time served in the Medical Corp. The very 1st semester he made 4.0. He then decided he wanted to go to Bates College in Lewiston. He applied but they weren't going to accept him, but Mr. Wieden (a Bates grad) talked them into giving him a try. Bates was really hard for him especially chemistry but he still managed to get good grades. He studied day and night - I know because I was there. We had been married in August 1948 and went together. We lived in a converted barracks with cockroaches and other bugs. Finally got them cleaned out. We had many friends in Samsonville - other married couples and some single friends also. Those 3 years were pretty hard but we had a good time. We got $105.00 a month to live on. Ha. I worked to supplement our income but it was still pretty tight. He graduated from Bates with a 3.8 and applied to Tufts Dental. He was accepted at Marquette University in Michagin but we wanted to stay near home. Tufts wasn't going to accept him either, but Dick's Biology Professor Dr. Crowley called down to see what the problem was. The Bates Dean had writte that Dick was anti-social.! Dr. Crowley talked Tufts into giving him an interview and that did the trick. The years at Tufts were hard but not as stressful as Bates had been. He had clinic and not as much chemistry.
He received a Forsyth Scholarship, was elected to the Omicron Kappa Upsilon, National Honorary Dental Society and the American Academy of Dental Medicine. He had the highest scholastic score of his class. Well done!
I could go on singing his praises but the rest of his life was quite normal. We returned to Presque Isle, raises a family and he had a thriving Dental Practice. He was loved by his patients and everyone else. A great success story!!
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