Blog Post # 36: My Mom: Miriam Elizabeth Hall Gateley, Part 5 – Parker and Erica

The Rest of Uncle Parker’s Story

Back in 2002 my sister Deborah made a book all about our Uncle Parker.  Here are excerpts from it.

When Parker was in high school he taught himself morse code and made a short wave radio. He loved using that radio. One day some men showed up at the house. Parker was at school, so they talked with Grandma Haswell and Miriam. They were investigating Parker’s use of the short wave radio because he didn’t have a license. Fortunately Parker didn’t get in trouble; he just had to stop using his radio until he got his license.

In last week’s blog post, I told how Parker and his National Guard unit were mobilized into the army as the 45th infantry Division. Deborah included some of the history behind the 45th, and its entry into WW II.

In September, 1940 the 45th Infantry Division was ordered into federal service for one year to engage in a training program. The 45th Division insignia was The Thunderbird.  The Thunderbird was a Native American symbol signifying “sacred bearer of happiness unlimited”. 

Its members arrived in Fort Sill while the camp was being enlarged and most of the Guardsmen were camped in tents on the bald prairie near where its summer training encampment had been located. Winter clothing was very inadequate. Most of the training aids were improvised. It moved from Fort Sill to Camp Barkeley. In the summer of 1941 the 45th Infantry Division participated in the Louisiana maneuvers — a major training operation involving several other divisions. By the end of the one-year call-up period, America was faced with World War II, and the call was extended.

The 45th Division trained for several years before moving overseas in June, 1943 for Algeria, North Africa for further preparations for combat.

I also recounted last week that Mom recalled Parker’s training accident where he broke his pelvis, was sent off to Officers Training School, and eventually shipped out to England. Deborah picks up the story from there.

At this point Parker was with the 3rd Armored Division and was transported to England by ship.

Meanwhile, in England, there was a beautiful English lass by the name of Erica Lloyd. She was born and resided in the small, quiet little town Bath.  As the war got worse, the U.S. came into action and filled Erica’s little town in England. The US army and soldiers took over many large buildings and hotels. One of the hotels was turned into a Red Cross unit where Erica volunteered to work serving donuts and coffee to GIs.

One day a notice was posted at the hotel that there would be a dinner dance at the officers club. She got some white taffeta, trimmed it with red ribbon and made a dress. That night she met “a very handsome officer, 6 ft. 2 inches, big brown eyes, blond curly hair”.  It was Parker. He introduced himself to her as “A.P.” (Almiron Parker) That was the beginning of their wonderful friendship. After that they dated several times. She said “He was so respectful, with a soft Oklahoma accent, and very polite.”  One night on a date he asked Erica to marry him and she said yes. They got her ring the next day and they were married September 12, 1943.

Mom added a bit to the marriage story. “I am not sure when he started going to the Catholic church, but know that he was Catholic when he married Erica, because he wanted his child raised Catholic. Erica belonged to the church of England.”

One day the doctor told Erica she was pregnant and that the baby would be born sometime in November.  Erica said “A.P. was so happy and said now we all had to go to the U.S. to meet his family when the war ended.”

Then the day came when the phone rang and it was the captain telling Parker to report to the base, it was time to go to Germany.  It was a very sad parting.  Erica wrote letters to him every day and he wrote to her when he could.

Then a telegram came from the War Department telling Erica he was missing in action. She was devastated, but she kept working.  She had no idea that while she celebrated their first wedding anniversary in England, he had been killed that same day by a sniper’s bullet. He had gone back to help one of his men who had been hit by the same sniper.  It would be weeks before she found out.

One night contractions started and Erica took a taxi to the hospital. After 3 days of labor, she gave birth to little A.P. (Antony Parker) Hall, born in November on his father’s birthday.

A few days before Christmas, she finally received the telegram telling her A.P. had been killed.

Miriam remembers the sadness of that Christmas.  On Christmas day, she, her grandma and her mother spent opening presents at her stepbrother’s house. On the way home she heard the song “Oh Holy Night” for the first time, and she said that hearing that song helped her heart so much.

Later, Erica and her baby son joined A.P.’s family in the United States.  Erica and Miriam became as close as sisters, and enjoyed a special bond the rest of their lives.

This seemingly brings us to the finish of Parker’s story. Except it doesn’t finish — it continues with his son, his four grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

LESSON LEARNED: We so often know people only in the present, when so much of who they are is formed by the past.

LESSON LEARNED: Truth is indeed often stranger than fiction. If a fictional book told of a soldier who was killed on his wedding anniversary, then his son born on his birthday, would you have considered that a bit too much “literary license?”

LESSON LEARNED: Learning about our family’s history is like blowing air into a party balloon. It takes something flat and lifeless and expands it into something colorful and vibrant.

Parker’s picture on the left, Parker’s wife Erica, baby son, and his father

Games and YouTube Videos

Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!

YouTube ASL Word Of The Day

YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day

Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores

Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday.  Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!

Published by Donna Gateley

Developer of SignCueQuest and CueQuest

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