Created in 1933, Rose Mary Drab created a pillow sham to honor her brother Edward’s service in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The Drabs lived on a farm south of Antigo. Rose Mary and Ed’s parents had emigrated to Wisconsin from Hungary, joining a stream of immigrants settling in the Midwest around the turn of the 20th century.
Rose Mary took over the day-to-day household care of her family after her mother died in 1923 when she was ten years old. She had eight siblings, and while she wasn’t the oldest, she was the eldest girl so the responsibility fell to her.
With the onset of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Rose Mary’s older brother Ed enrolled in the CCC and was assigned to Camp 657 just north of Antigo in Langlade County. Rose Mary made him this sham as well as a sweater before he left.
CCC camps engaged in a variety of work, from building roads and building lodging to constructing parks. Camp 657 worked largely in reforestation, planting trees to replace those clear cut during the heyday of the logging industry in Wisconsin. In its first four years of operation, Camp 657 undertook a number of infrastructure projects in the county, including building and installing: 83 miles of truck trails; 12 miles of fire breaks; 23 miles of vehicular bridges; 235 miles of telephone lines; and 15 toolboxes, 4 lookout towers, 2 lookout cabins for forest fire control and firefighting.
Recruits like Ed and eventually his brother earned $30 per month for their work, $25 of which was sent home to support the Drab family. Ed credited his CCC earnings with saving the family farm.
This story is produced in partnership with Wisconsin 101.