Reporters’ Notebook: May Day hats for ill co-worker

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Lewiston School Department office staffers wanted to cheer up a co-worker who is being treated in Boston for leukemia. They found inspiration for the idea from a photograph in the Sun Journal of elderly ladies wearing flowerly Easter bonnets.

“That takes guts,” said secretary Diane Duplissis. “We said we can do that for May Day.” The staffers assembled festive May Day hats adorned with flowers, palm trees and other items. They bravely put them on, posing for a photo on the front steps of the Dingley Building. The photograph has been sent to their friend.

From left, front to back rows, are: Ann Valliere, Pat Kordalski, Jeanie Giroux, Denise Sensenig, Joanne Lagasse, Diane Duplissis, Linda McLaughlin, Debbie Gunn, Tess Gray, Jackie Little, Pat Gagne, Kathaleen Bourgault and Lucy Violette. — Bonnie Washuk

A Lewiston man who bought 10 U.S. Army dog tags while on vacation in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City — and began last month to reunite the tags with their G.I.s — is nearing the end of his quest.

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“I have two people left to find,” said John Gagnon. “I hope to reach them on Sunday.”

The soft-spoken postal worker has mailed dog tags to families in Tennessee, Iowa and Arizona. Last Sunday, he drove to Foxboro, Mass., to give away the tag left behind by Sgt. George Palermo, who died in Vietnam at 25 years old.

Gagnon presented the 40-year-old relic to Palermo’s twin sisters.

“For them to have something they could touch was just so powerful,” said Gagnon, who is becoming a kind of celebrity on his mail route since the story appeared last month in the Sun Journal. He has also been the subject of stories in the Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Mass., and on Boston’s WBZ-TV.

Several people on his mail route have asked for his autograph, using whatever paper is handy. He even signed a just-delivered CMP bill.

“Usually, they run away from me when I have bills,” Gagnon said.

— Daniel Hartill

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