Friday, July 9, 2010

The Project: Museum Exhibit Honoring Gail Sigford and Four Other Klamath Falls WASP

June (and May) were busy and satisfying months. My Aunt Gail specified that her ashes were to be spread  at her favorite mountain view, which we did on July 3rd.  In addition, a small group (my sister, sister-in-laws, a friend of my aunts and I) joined together in a project that took on a life of it's own.  In honor of my Aunt Gail, we set up an exhibit at the local museum which showcased the my aunt and the other four WWII WASP (Womens Airforce Service Pilots) connected with Klamath County.   We were fortunate to have a member of this group who was not only an artist but also had experience in setting up this sort of display.


We gathered pictures from old albums and boxes, scoured the internet for pictures and articles about the WASP from Klamath Falls as well as general WASP information.  Arm patches, discharge papers, and  WASP class books were ferreted out of their hiding places.  We even found a 1943 Life Magazine which featured and article about these amazing flying women of WWII.  A sister-in-law undertook scanning the pictures inside the magazine and put them on a digital picture frame which was a very nice addition to the display.  We had timelines and little known facts about the WASP as well as posters on the walls and in the display cases.,

We also had access to a lighted, glass cube in which we hung models of several of the training planes that were flown by the WASP at Avenger Field in Sweetwater TX.  One of the interesting things that my sister and I noticed was that several of the  the training planes that were flown by  WASP were planes that we grew up with when we were children.  Our father purchased and flew a number of war surplus planes, so the Stearman (B-13),  Fairchild (PT-19) and the twin engine Cessna Bobcat (UC-78). that we knew as children were the same planes that my aunt flew in Texas.

Also included were pictures and bios of the four other WASP that were at one time or another connected with Klamath County.  Two of them were rather well known,  Blanche Osborn Bross was flew B-17s and was in one of the more well known pictures as she and three other WASP, dressed in their sheep skin flight suits, were walking away from the B-17, Pistol Packin' Mama.  Peggie Parker Eccles not only ferried  bombers, but also was assigned to a top secret project; she was the "taxi service" to four top scientist working.

The local newspaper gave us a nice spread, complete with a picture of my brother holding our aunt's Congressional Gold Medal (actually a bronze medal, as the Gold Medal now resides in the Smithsonian Institute).  My brother traveled to Washington D.C. in March 2010 to receive our aunt's posthumously presented Congressional Gold Medal.

After we gave my aunt's ashes back to the air, wind, and land, the entire group of family and friends visited the museum exhibit as well as the Veteran's Park where we had placed a memorial brick in her honor.  My aunt was a very private person and would have been quite surprised at this very public display  --- though I do believe she would also have been very pleased.  According to her,  being a WASP, part of that amazing history, was one of the most significant and exciting experiences of her life.  We honored that life and how she affected our lives.

8 comments:

  1. Remarkable, fantastic, meaningful! Congrats. Been wondering where you were, other than the postings of the letters, which are fab, but of course. Now I know, you have been very busy with a wonderful project. Again, congrats!

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  2. In addition to the exhibit, we had company from Florida, Washington and all over Oregon. Quite a month!

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  3. How exciting to carry out your aunt's final wishes!

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  4. What a great tribute to your aunt and the other WASP members! Congratulations.

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  5. How wonderful to do as your aunt wished and to be near the mountain view she loved is great. My one concern with ashes spread rather than being in a cemetery is how will family in the future know what is done with family members. My mother in law 's ashes were given to the waters of the lake where one son lives. She loved the woods and the lakes of Minnesota. Is there a place to register this information. If not an interesting idea. Thanks for visiting my blog recently. Grace

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  6. It is nice to see this, I have often thought of Gail, she was a remarkable woman, and influenced me as a young child.
    Gus

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  7. It is nice to see this, I have often thought of Gail, she was a remarkable woman, and influenced me as a young child.
    Gus

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  8. It was great to see this tribute, Gail was a wonderful woman, and influenced me greatly as a young child.
    Gus

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