Father-son mistake prompts fond recall of colleague.

 
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Byline: Ed Patenaude

COLUMN: SO I'VE HEARD

I found myself in some pretty select company upon joining the Worcester Evening Gazette Regional staff decades ago.

There was a hook to my hire. Take over the Webster column established by John Dignam, now retired, but then just promoted to the city staff. The unscripted challenge was to come within a shadow of the weekly contributions established by Mr. Dignam and of others in the same publications zone.

This required something comparable to the then-ongoing columns by the late Joseph Capillo of Southbridge and Bernard DuPont of Putnam. I needn't have feared. Cap and Bernie provided constructive criticism from Day One: To join their domain was to perform. Bernie was a real stickler for accuracy. He retired years ago but was never forgotten.

So, what happened? I created a Webster-Dudley Boys & Girls Club crisis of sorts on March 3. Immediate past president John Lefebvre of the Webster-Dudley Club sent me an e-mail: John Meciak, the club's assistant treasurer, is not a retired educator but a CPA with Commerce Insurance Co. It turns out they're father and son. Then, John P. Hickey, the funeral director, telephoned. John Meciak, the senior in this case, is his wife Jean's uncle. The difference is Jean's uncle goes by "Jack."

The significance, besides regret, was that Bernie would've been all over "that bonehead" had it happened in our staff years together. Worse, funeral services were held in Northboro that day for Bernard A. "Bernie" DuPont, reporter, columnist, features specialist, photographer, author, and critic! I considered a silent apology at his wake, but a sincere prayer seemed more appropriate.

Uncovering long-lost veterans charters has become an ongoing search for John Wojcik, who found a United War Mothers charter some time ago in a storage closet in the Webster Veterans Home.

Formed after World War II, the UWM included several women associated with the Sons of Italy Auxiliary, all mothers of men who served in the military during the war. Mr. Wojcik had the charter restored. It is now on a wall within the Veterans Lane building.

Now, the long-serving Webster-Dudley Veterans Council officer has reached back to the Spanish-American War for another military charter. He got a heads-up this time from Webster Veterans Services Director Donald A. Baker Sr. "Don told me about it," says Mr. Wojcik. "It was discarded in the veterans building attic."

The United Spanish War Veterans, 16 strong...

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