Dottie greets all diners, brings joy to the students on campus
Well-known and dear to students across campus, Roberts’ Dining Hall card checker Dorothy Hudson—Dottie—is a bit of a celebrity in her own right.
There’s something about Dottie that makes college dining feel a little bit more like home. Maybe it’s because she has made a serious effort to remember as many faces as possible, greets students by name and takes a moment to chat.
Although her Maine accent may suggest otherwise, Dottie was actually born in Montreal, Canada. She moved to Albion, Maine with her family when she was seven years old and lived for a year on a farm with a man who “came over on the boat [from Scotland] with my grandfather,” she said.
Coming from a city, country life was new to Dottie, and the contrast was especially sharp as they stayed in a house with “no lights and no bathroom,” she said.
Soon, though, her family got their own farm where she, her sister and her four brothers pitched in to keep up the property. The siblings attended a one-room schoolhouse, where her brother used to say “he was the smartest kid in the eighth grade.” He was also the only kid in the eighth grade. Dottie, however, was one of three in her class.
She said she liked country life and reminisced, “Back then everyone knew each other, and they took us in more or less. The mailman used to also bring our bread,” she said, laughing.
In addition to running the farm, her father trained horses and worked at the Hallsworth and Whitney Paper Mill—the same mill where Dottie spent most of her career years later, although during her tenure it was called the Scott Paper Mill. She retired in 1997 before the mill closed and remembers, with a sense of nostalgia, the days when the mill was 1,000 workers strong. By the end, employees dwindled to around 200, she said, but that former emblem of Maine vitality really meant a lot to her: the mill’s old employees still hold an annual reunion “because we were a family,” she said. “When I used to go by that mill, I’d get teary-eyed.”
Although Dottie, mother to four and grandmother to eight, has lived most of her life in Maine, she has also lived abroad (England) and in different places across the United States (Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi) as a former military wife.
Now she lives in Rome, Maine and is surrounded by family. She shares a house with her youngest brother, two other brothers live in town (one seven miles down the road and one only a door down), the eldest brother still lives in Maine and her sister has passed away. Three of her sons live in Maine, and one is in Nevada, but she still sees him frequently even though she refuses to fly anymore. “I don’t like flying,” she said.
Dottie came to the Hill in 2001 after spending a few years volunteering in a hospital. She said she saw an advertisement for dining service workers in the local newspaper and thought to herself, “Well, if I’m working, I might as well make some money.” She began in the dish room, but when she broke her ankle, she moved to work as a card checker—the gatekeeper to the dining hall—where she has stayed ever since. “I like it. I like the kids,” she said.
Beyond the College, Dottie likes to read. “A lot,” she said. From mysteries to plain old “nice stories,” her books tend to have a common theme; they are stories about families and relationships. “I just like people,” she said. “I always have liked people.”