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A stitch in time

  • Published
  • By Robert Fox
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
The table cloth is old, dingy and stained, but they are afraid to wash it. They are afraid to launder it for fear the signatures from years ago will be washed away. 

Sharon Wilkerson and Pat Leard aren't talking about just any table cloth. The 82nd Mission Support Squadron Civilian Personnel Flight's Christmas table cloth has been signed by the employees of the office every year since at least 1948. 

More than 260 signatures adorn the table cloth. 

"There are so many names on here, sometimes we look for one and don't see who we're looking for," Mrs. Leard said 

The table cloth chronicles not only those who worked in the office over the years, but also captures the dedication some had to their job and the Air Force. 

For example, Georgia Bahuslav signed the table cloth for 42 years. 

Sherry Wonderlin's first entry on the table cloth came more than 30 years ago in 1975. She continued to sign, or place the year, on the fabric until 2002. 

There's also Kathy Ketchel who has made 32 entries on the table cloth. 

Some years have special notes attached to them: new last names, "retired," "going home," "Boston Bound." 

"Their history is on here," Mrs. Leard said. "(There is) a lot of history, a lot of caring." 

Mrs. Leard said she has been in five personnel offices and is willing to bet there won't be another table cloth like this one. 

Each Christmas, the table cloth is taken out and spread over a table for several days to give everyone a chance to sign it, they said. This year, 15 people will search out their signature on the table cloth and add another year under it. 

Most traditions' origins are obscured over time; the table cloth is no different. It has 
"Established in 1960" written clearly in a holly leaf in the center, but there are signatures from 1948. 

"(It's) a good history, but we don't know how it got started," Mrs. Wilkerson said.
Regardless of how it began, chapters continue to be written by employees who sign the table cloth today - just like they did in 1948.