Don and Jeanette: Historic Past, Storied Future


Mack Jackson, Reporter

Jeanette was a member of the Waterford cheer team, the winner of Miss Waterford, and the secretary of the student council. Don was a  player for the Lancer’s basketball team and the president of the student council. Jeanette and Don Delmore are now a happily married couple of 60 years together with two kids. After having simply met through their high school student council, they eventually found love in one another and continued their companionship well beyond it. Since graduating from WHS as the first full class in 1960, key differences in school culture have emerged that have changed what a student’s academic lifestyle may have looked like back then versus now. 

At the time when Jeanette was a student at Waterford High School, she mentioned that it was a period when women did not have equal rights. Eventually, Jeanette proceeded to state, “It seems small and insignificant, but I think it says a lot that girls could only have one hot dog in the cafeteria. Boys could have two no matter how hungry you were. I always found that to be morally just wrong, It didn’t make sense, it was ridiculous.” Yet today, fortunately, there have been great strides towards female equality as the first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, is about to be inaugurated on January 20th. At Waterford High School, female empowerment is celebrated with the start of the “Women’s Empowerment” club run by Mrs. Thibeau, which encourages female leadership and instills confidence. Many student-run clubs have female officers and the school attempts to provide equal opportunities for each gender. 

When asked about school culture during her time, Jeanette responded “there were cliques but I don’t recall anybody being ostracized. I didn’t have any particular ‘clique,’ but I was friends with everybody.” While discussing her involvement in cheer and Student Council, Jeanette explained how it helped expose the two of them to various types of people. As mentioned by Jeanette, “Don was playing sports and I did cheerleading and the newspaper. So my exposure to everybody was great!”

A typical school day for Don involved getting a ride to school, similar to many students today, by his neighbor or his father: “I got a ride to school, I never took the school bus. My neighbor, his father drove on his way to work and dropped us off.“  In contrast to Don, students today vary in the way they commute to school with a majority taking the bus while upperclassmen have the option to drive themselves. However, with the emergence of the COVID pandemic, transportation has taken cautious measures with students split into cohorts that go into school on separate days. Some students have chosen to remain full distance learning and do not have to commute at all. 

Though homework has not been eliminated within the American education system, there are differences in the number of hours spent during both time periods. In response to how many hours did homework take on a regular day, Don stated, “I feel like it was heavy… I remember staying up late, studying or memorizing whatever we did to do well on a test… a couple to three hours a night, sometimes longer.”  

Typically all generations go through certain “fads.” In the late ’50s, says Jeanette, “Poodle skirts and Bobby Socks were all the rage…Pink and black were the colors to wear. And with guys, it was cars and having them raked, and loud.” Jeanette later explains how with the new edition of Rock n’ roll music, dancing was huge which led to giant sock hops “on a Friday night after a huge game”. She adds, “We did lots of dances, so the music was big”. Currently, today’s “fads” for entertainment, music, and clothing derive from social media trends and allows space for creative freedom within an individual’s choice. Trends tend to be fast-paced and while dancing is still popular, dances after Friday night games are not common anymore. Dances instead tend to be restricted to our annual “Homecoming” and “Prom” nights.

After graduation, Don enrolled in Bates College in Maine and Jeanette stayed in Connecticut and enrolled in nursing school. Roughly a year and a half after graduation their paths crossed again when Don would go to visit his high school basketball coach, Mr. Sweeney, in the hospital where Jeanette had just happened to be his nurse. After they reunited the pair started dating and continued throughout their college years and saw Don’s journey into law school.  In 1965, after Jeanette had pursued an opportunity to be a flight attendant for American Airlines, Don proposed. At which point, Jeannette had to quit the airlines, as flight attendants were not allowed to be married at the time. For individuals graduating from Waterford High School now, though the possibility of finding your partner within the same class is rare, the relationships made are memorable and long lasting.