Among her proteges were people like Dr. Alan Xenakis, who went from being a cashier under Olive to a prominent medical position on television. Two other trainees ultimately became priests — the Rev. Gerald Dempsey and the Rev. Richard Burton, son of a former Haverhill mayor.
Jim Cormier is still working at the Westgate Market Basket, shagging carts in the far corners of the parking lot and beyond. He drives around in his pickup truck like a bloodhound on a mission, checking out places like the Hadley West apartments and other elderly complexes, corralling these errant carts and returning them to the store.
“My father has it down to a science,” said Jim Cormier Jr. “No lifting, just maneuvering. An average week results in 80 to 90 carts being retrieved. He’s always on the go.”
The Cormiers met by coincidence. Jim was serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps in Australia during World War II under General Douglas McArthur, delivering bombs to air bases. During a respite from his duties, he showed up at the local post office and bought a lottery ticket.
It turned out to be a winner. He decided to treat the exuberant cashier, Olive, to a movie that night and the rest was left to Cupid. Six months later, they were married. Both went through some precarious moments — Olive the war bride and Jim the soldier who survived a plane explosion moments after landing. Two Bronze Stars are proud reminders of his military service.
She was 17 when they married and had some convincing to do with her parents. Two of her uncles had been captured by the Japanese and spent years in captivity. The same could occur with Jim, who was five years older than Olive. Still, they tied the knot six months before he was deployed to the front lines. Olive was pregnant when he left.