Memorial Day Memories

28 May 2017

Today, I’ll share a memory. When I was a young girl, we didn’t call the upcoming holiday, Memorial Day. Instead it was called Decoration Day, because people would decorate the graves of loved ones who had died, especially veterans. There was always a parade through town and the high school band would march, etc. Then, we would usually drive the hour-and-a-half from Union, to Laddonia, Missouri to visit the cemeteries and lay the wreaths. (My brother still took my Mom to do that every year until just a couple of years before she died - then, she insisted he do it without her.)

Growing up, in most of the dime stores and general stores, there would be rows and rows of styrofoam wreaths and crosses covered with plastic flowers and a large ribbon, so people could buy them to put on the graves. (Do they even make those anymore? They sure weren’t environmentally friendly, and most of them were kind of ugly.)

Funny thing is, shortly after my husband and I were married, while he was finishing his bachelor’s degree, I worked in a factory in Boliver, Missouri, called Teter’s Floral Products. It produced those plastic wreaths for grave sites. Sometimes my job was to staple the cardboard boxes together. For that, I stood in front of a machine, folded in two edges of the box, and used a foot petal to put staples in the folded ends. Then, I'd flip the box and do the other side. Except, the staples came out two in quick succession (Ka-chunk, ka-chunk) so, the trick was to get the first staple in, then move the box across fast enough so the second staple secured the other end - and didn’t end up in the middle of one of the sides. My hands were really cut up and raw from doing that job. These were assembly line jobs, and, at other times, I would attach the wreaths to the inside of the box. For that I would stand at a big machine that ran a huge staple up from underneath. I positioned the box with the wreath inside over the staple head, and I had some sort of wooden tool that I pressed the top of the wreath with, so when the staple came up it would secure the wreath to the box. We put two large staples in each – one at the top and one at the bottom. But, I didn’t have to work quite as fast as with the box stapler. Each staple came up individually, giving me more time to reposition the box for the second staple. Amazingly, while I worked there, we were so busy, they were always asking us to work overtime!
I was only there a few months, and never developed the speed of most of the other workers. I was happy when Bob graduated and I could leave that job.

Since we often remember veterans on Memorial Day, I’ll explain here why neither my father nor either of my grandfathers were veterans. (However, my husband’s father was. He served in Greenland in the Army Air Corps during WWII.) 

My grandfather Wade died in 1916, (before the “Great War”) when my father was only 3 yrs. old. However, had he lived, since he was in his 40’s and had a ranch, he probably wouldn’t have been called to serve. He would have been needed on the ranch. 

My Grandfather Haycraft had a large farm and the food he produced was needed, so he was never drafted. (I do have a copy of his draft registration, though.)

WWII came along about the time my father was of an age to serve, but, when he had his physical, they thought they saw something on his lungs, so he was exempted. (There never proved to be any physical problem, though. It was probably a fault with the equipment. But, that’s why he didn’t serve.) He did spend some time in the CCCs, but, so far, I haven’t had any luck finding the records that would tell me exactly where he served with them.

We do have several veterans in the family, though. My brother, E.F., was in the U.S. Air Force in Germany in 1961 when the wall went up. (We all rejoiced when it came down in 1989)

My brother, Jim, was in the U.S. Army and earned a purple heart in Vietnam, but he never wants to talk about it.

My husband served in the U. S. Army, and, our oldest son, Bob, was in the U.S. Navy.

I am grateful for the freedoms we have in America (freedoms that made it possible for the gospel to be restored in these last days) and for the men and women who have fought to preserve those freedoms. Today, many of our religious freedoms are at risk, and each of us must do all we can to preserve them.

1 comment:

Patti said...

I loved reading about your job putting together the decorative wreaths! The double staple part stressed me out. We did the same thing for our relatives' graves. It was delightful to get a picture from Amy yesterday at her grandfather's grave with the flowers they brought to decorate it. I found out from my mother-in-law today that Amy had called her to ask what kind of flower she would like them to place there. The tradition continues!