Celebrating a Special Group
FITCHBURG -- They graduated from Fitchburg High School 70 years ago. Their high school career began the year the nation tested the first atom bomb, and ended in the lead-up to the Korean War.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, graduates of FHS class of 1948 will meet once again at the Westminster Country Club for their 70th class reunion.
Organized by graduate Donald “Frenchy” Maynard, the reunion will bring together a class distinguished in a few ways.
Here are five things to know about the Fitchburg High School’s Class of 1948.
1. Raymond Ablondi was the first class president ever elected by unanimous vote in Fitchburg High School History. Ablondi would go on to spend 35 years as an auto executive at Ford Motor Company, where he was credited with breathing new life into the brand. Ablondi died in 2017, but his legacy here lives. He was a member of both the school’s track and football teams, and the school record he set in the 220 yard dash still stands unbroken to this day. Ablondi was inducted into the Fitchburg High School Hall of Fame. He would go on to earn his PhD at the London School of Economics.
2. A total of five student athletes from the class of 1948 were inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame, the highest number in Fitchburg High School history, according to Maynard. Inducted alongside Ablondi was the late Robert “Bob” Duncan, football quarterback, basketball team player, and catcher on the baseball team. Duncan went on to launch the ladies track program at Gardner High School, and was admitted to Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1989. Courtney “Corky” Ervin was a star football, basketball and baseball player who was inducted into the Red Raiders’ Hall of Fame in 2007. Once, while pitching for the baseball team, Ervin struck out a whopping 23 batters from rival team, Leominster High School. Arthur “Bucker” Shea played alongside fellow football icon Ervin, and was named a Hall of Famer in 2005. Finally, there was Joe Cushing, who excelled on the baseball diamond but was known for his achievements on the gridiron. Cushing would go on to become a key player in the world of ski resort planning and development, but more on that later.
3. The class of 1948 saw their beloved Red Raiders beat or tie the Leominster Blue Devils in the Thanksgiving Game three of their four years at the school. As sophomores, Fitchburg tied Leominster 6-6. The Red Raiders smashed the Blue Devils 13-0 the following year. Seniors members ended their high school football career with another win over Leominster in a 7-6 game.
4. Without class of 1948 graduate and Fitchburg High School Hall of Famer, Joe Cushing, modern ski resorts may not be the tourist magnates they are today. An avid skier, Cushing was still a teen when he became Massachusetts Downhill Skiing champion in 1947 and 1948. About 15 years later, he joined Sno.Engineering, a ski resort design and engineering company that remains in business today. Cushing was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2015. Throughout his career Cushing worked on over 400 projects, about 150 of which he a had a hand in designing, according to the ski museum. He told the Sentinel & Enterprise his favorite project was designing trails at Wachusett Mountain, where he practiced the sport growing up.
5. The Class of 1948 attended classes in the building that is now Longsjo Middle School, but made its mark at the new school building on Arn-How Farm Road. The class donated bricks that line the building’s exterior.
Maynard has been reaching out to fellow members of his graduating class, but said he was unable to contact some. Should a member of the class of 1948 wish to attend their 70th reunion, he asks they RSVP by calling him at 978-342-5879 no later than Sept. 5.