QUILT HISTORY STORIES
Susan Wildemuth, Atkinson, IL
Walter Carlin "Babe" Parks
Earning the Eagle’s Badge
I collect antique, vintage, and new eagle quilts, not the wildlife variety, but the patriotic version because they remind me of my favorite teacher.
Sea Wings to Glory
Mountain Mist Pattern
He was a salesman by occupation, but a teacher by heart, who taught me how to ride a bike, make pie crusts from scratch with his “secret” ingredient, how to keep between the white lines with a 1960s Rambler, and that there were good men in the world who treated women with dignity and respect. This gentle man and gentleman was my dad, the template by which I choose a husband and raised a son.
Growing up in Melrose, Iowa my dad had a dream of becoming an aviation engineer. After high school, he wanted to enroll in college, but like so many others of his generation, Pearl Harbor changed his life plan.
WWII U.S. Navy Uniform
Dad enlisted in the United States Navy and was sent to the Pacific on the St. Lo where he served as an aviation machinist mate. Somewhere off the Philippine Islands the St. Lo was hit by a Kamikaze and someone gave the order to abandon ship. Dad went over the side with only one shoe and his billfold with a Sacred Heart Badge his mother had given him when he went overseas tucked inside it. His mother’s goal with that badge was to give her son a piece of home to carry in his pocket, a heart, a symbol of love and faith from a mother who knows her son is about to embark on a journey that will change his life.
Sacred Heart Badge (2002 Version)
Fourth of July was one of my dad’s favorite holidays. Mom and dad would take me and the boys every year to the town celebration on the square. Hands-down the fireworks were the highlight of the day, but the parade after lunch was something to be seen too. Dad taught us early on about parade etiquette. The honor or color guard walked by, men and women who served in the military, you stood up and put your hand on your heart. It was, he told us, a sign of respect and a way to say thank you for their service.
The Parks Boys
(Two of My Four Brothers)
I can pull up memories of WWI veterans marching in our town parade, thin work-worn men who seemed to grow taller when they carried the American Flag. One of us kids asked dad, if he’d ever seen a Civil War veteran march in a parade. “When I was a little boy,” and then you’d get a history lesson to match your question, but none of us minded, dad could tell a story you wanted to listen to. I think his one regret was that he never got that college education, but he was an avid reader and to the little girl he used to take on Saturday morning soda fountain dates, he was the smartest man in the world.
Dad's Sacred Heart Badge (1940 Version)
When my dad passed away my mother asked each of us kids, “is there something you would like of your dads?” I knew exactly what I wanted. I asked mom for his Sacred Heart Badge, the one he’d had when he went over the side of his ship. Some sixty plus years later the badge has a home in my son’s billfold, a gift from a mother to a son the fall he left for college. His mother’s goal with that badge was to give her son a piece of home to carry in his pocket, a heart, a symbol of love and faith from a mother who knows her son is about to embark on a journey that will change his life. Brian was three when my dad passed away, but he would be so proud of the gentle man and gentleman his grandson turned out to be.