An elaborate pillow sham a World War II soldier sent to his mother, lost for more than 70 years, has finally come home, just in time for Mother’s Day.
MILLVILLE, Mass. — This is the story of a loving tribute from a soldier, preparing for war, to his mother on the other side of the continent who didn’t know if she would ever see her boy again.
The elaborate pillow sham he sent her, lost for more than 70 years, has finally come home, just in time for Mother’s Day.
The sham, emblazoned with the word “Mother” and sent in 1942 by Dominic O’Gara from his Army base in California to his mother in the small Massachusetts town of Millville, was discovered on eBay last month by a town native.
The hope now is to put the sham on display in the town’s senior center, just yards from the house where the O’Gara family once lived.
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“To me, it’s come back to where it belongs,” said Margaret Carroll, chairwoman of the town Historical Commission. “It’s as close to Mrs. O’Gara as it can get.”
Donald Lamoureux, who lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island, but who grew up in Millville, spotted an envelope for sale on eBay, and even though he had no idea what was inside, he knew he had to have it when he saw the date and the Millville address. He paid $5 for it.
He was stunned when he looked inside.
“There was this pillow sham that had been sealed away for 73 years, and it looked brand-new,” he said.
Although it had deep creases from being folded for decades, it wasn’t frayed, stained or faded.
The white pillow cover has a blue fringe, and in addition to the word “Mother” in blue, is decorated with red roses with green stems, and the words “Camp McQuaide, Calif.,” where O’Gara was stationed.
Where the pillow sham has been the past 70-plus years is a mystery. The 6-cent airmail stamp on the envelope was canceled, indicating it had been delivered. But the cover appeared pristine. O’Gara’s mother, Catherine, died in 1956.
Lamoureux bought it from a Rhode Island man who runs a collectibles shop and found the envelope in a box of junk acquired from an anonymous seller.
Of course, Lamoureux wanted to return the pillow cover to O’Gara’s family, but he couldn’t find any living relatives.
Lamoureux turned to his own parents, Donald and Diane Lamoureux, and their friends in Millville, including Carroll and Council on Aging member Ellen Ethier Bowen, who both remembered the O’Gara family.
The group discussed it and came up with the idea of framing the pillow sham and envelope and hanging them in the senior center.
Bowen hopes to bring the proposal to the full Council on Aging. It would be perfect if the pillow sham could be hung by Memorial Day, she said.