Magazine article America in WWII

My Patches Became History

Magazine article America in WWII

My Patches Became History

Article excerpt

I BEGAN COLLECTING PATCHES and Other military items as a pre-teenager during World War II. I grew up in the small town of Bigfork, Montana, and the war and the military bases, activities, installations, and facilities supporting it were in places at considerable distance from us. It was our fate to have a seat in the back row during the war.

I first became interested in the idea of collecting shoulder patches after seeing a feature article in a national magazine that included pictures of the collection of a young boy somewhere on the East Coast. My early efforts at collecting were helped by the wife of our school superintendent, who got me started by giving me extras from the collection she was making for her young son. It was slow going in the beginning because I was mostly dependent on her and on the few patches 1 was lucky enough to get from local boys who were home on leave.

The collection took off when I learned that the army goods store in the neighboring town stocked a fairly large number of miscellaneous patches. It became a ritual for me to take my weekly one-dollar allowance to the store where one of the two kindly old (they had to be at least 50!) gentlemen who owned the store would dutifully and patiently go to the middle of the store and pull the box of patches off a top shelf. It was a square box a little bigger than a hatbox, but it was a treasure chest to me. I'd spend half an hour or so rifling through the patches until I found the one or two that caught my fancy. …

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