From high school to the golden years

3 men come together 75 years later at The Meadows

COURTNEY HAYDEN/Sun-Gazette Melvin Durrwachter (left), Hilary Schmouder and Raymond Venema all went to Williamsport High School together and graduated in 1943. They now live together at The Meadows.

75 years ago, Raymond Venema, Melvin Durrwachter and Hilary Schmouder all graduated from Williamsport High School in 1943. The three gentlemen coincidently ended up living nearby one another at The Meadows, a personal care community.

Raymond, Durrwachter and Schmouder all are 94 years old and were born in 1924, said Christina C. Klingerman, marketing, sales and admissions manager at The Meadows. Now, more than 70 years later, they are all living in the same hallway, but once lived across from one another.

Schmouder and Raymond were already living at The Meadows before Durrwachter moved in, Klingerman said. The two “sit at the same table in the dining room,” added Marianne Lundy, Raymond’s daughter.

When Durrwachter moved in, he came in with his daughter, Raymond said. Raymond first recognized Durrwachter’s daughter because she worked at the bank he used, and then remembered Durrwachter from high school, Klingerman added. Raymond got out his yearbook, called La Memoire, and began going through it.

“Our staff thought it was wonderful that all three were here and living so close to each other. We were amazed that Ray had his 1943 yearbook,” Klingerman said.

The gentlemen reminisced about their times at Williamsport High School when it was located on Third Street.

Durrwachter and Schmouder both took the industrial track and Raymond studied academics. In the industrial track, students took two weeks of shop classes and two weeks of academic classes, Durrwachter said.

High school is “no different than it is today,” Raymond said. “You’re trying to learn something, that’s always a difficult chore.”

Post-graduation, students’ lives take them in different directions.

Durrwachter planned on working in the motors industry after high school, but ended up working for his father at the family dairy company, he said. The milk company’s slogan was, “You can whip our cream, but you can’t beat our milk.”

He also worked at JCPenney when it was located downtown of Fourth Street, Durrwachter said. He remembered shortly after beginning, his boss gave him a raise and a lifetime job at Penney’s because he was a good salesman.

At 17 years old, Schmouder started worked at Lycoming Motors and his first paycheck was between $43 to $52, which was a lot of money back in the day, he said. Lycoming Motors nicknamed him “The Kid,” and he was the youngest employee there. Back then, machinists working there shared information about the trade with people looking to get into the industry.

Schmouder pursued a college degree at Lycoming College and majored in geography, he said.

Raymond enlisted in the Army shortly after high school on June 28, 1943, Lundy said. He was a Flight Officer in the 267 AAF Base and a Lieutenant in the Army and Air Force during World War II, Durrwachter and Klingerman added.

He graduated flight school before the war was over and flew two missions and escorted Truman, said Patrick Venema, his son. Raymond was discharged on November 4, 1945, Lundy added.

“It is great seeing them look through the yearbook, talk through memories and refer to each other by last name,” Klingerman said.