American Optical History

AO Recollections-


Submitted by Brenda Dion Letourneau

To read a wonderful and loving tribute of one of the many who made the Greatest Generation, check ou this terrific biographical/autobiographical account of Roger Dion compiled by his daughter Brenda.

It is cleverly intertwined with reflections by his wife with regard to her perspective on their courtship during the war and marriage at Notre Dame in Southbridge. The following was submitted by Brenda summarizing Rogers AO Days.


After Roger graduated from Mary E. Wells High School in 1936, he began working for the American Optical Company.  He worked in the molding room where furnaces were used to melt glass to be formed into lenses.


Molders wore asbestos “aprons” and a heavy glove to protect them from the intense heat of the furnaces.  They used metal tongs to feed cubes of glass into each furnace.  The cubes then rotated on a ceramic wheel towards a heating element.  The melted cube rotated back to the molder who removed it with a metal hook, placed it into a mold, and positioned the mold under a punch machine.  The punch formed the melted glass into a lens.


Roger worked as a helper and was responsible for feeding five machines.  He earned $33 a week—a good wage back then. 


It was at this time that Roger met Claire Demers, who worked in the AO’s Department D12R located in the same building as the molding room.


Roger left the AO to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps on January 3, 1942.   While he served in Southern England, the AO regularly mailed him the AO News, which he thoroughly enjoyed, because it kept him in touch with what was happening back home.  Each Christmas, the AO also sent Roger a package of sweets and toilet articles.


While Roger served overseas, Claire continued to work at the AO, filling Government contracts related to the War effort.


Roger married Claire on July 18, 1945.  Following his September 27, 1945 discharge from military service, Roger began working at Russell Harrington, where he remained until his retirement on March 30, 1984.

Brenda (R) with her book 1,364 Days - A WWII Veterans Story,
with her sister Karen Caouette

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