Louie Sbarbaro’s framed collection of WWII badges hangs on a north facing wall of the Weed Museum. More than 160 patches provide testimony to the service the men and women who fought during the Second World War.

Some remember December 7th, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, by flying their flags at half-mast.  Others participate in special services to honor the service men and women who lost their lives or were injured during the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Still others hold wreath-laying ceremonies or attend luncheons with keynote speakers commemorating that day. Typically, the media highlights stories on survivors’ recollection; often schools present activities to educate students about the attack on Pearl Harbor in relation to World War II history.

The Weed Museum honors veterans of World War II on a daily basis as well as on Pearl Harbor Day.

Louie Sbarbaro’s framed collection of WWII badges hangs on a north facing wall of the Weed Museum. More than 160 patches provide testimony to the service the men and women who fought during the Second World War.

“Veterans come from all over the country and look at this display,” claims Weed Museum docent and curator Harold Orcutt. “It’s really important to them to see their patches displayed. It represents a part of their history and their contribution to the country.”

“And if they don’t see their division represented, they send their patch to us,” Orcutt adds. “I’ve built another frame so those patches can be displayed with the others.” He points at the patches for the 84th and the 86th Army Division. “The 85th was missing; when Gino Mazzoni of Weed saw that, he sent us his patch from the 85th; lots do that after visiting the Museum.”

Louie Sbarbaro, former owner of Lou’s Lounge in Weed in the old Genova Building, began collecting the military patches in the 1940s, according to his son, Louie, Jr. “Dad and my Uncle Tony started collecting them, and as I remember, they just tacked them on the wall behind the bar, at first.”

“The Lounge was in the house my Grandpa built,” Sbarbaro reminisces. “Originally, it was a boarding house for single guys working at the mill. After the War, Dad bought a liquor license and added a restaurant, turned the boarding house into a hotel. Dad had a lot of memorabilia from the war behind the bar,  even swords and bayonets. People’d bring in their patches to tack them up. It gave them something to talk about, to be proud of together.”

“When Dad retired, he had several hundred patches and he didn’t know what to do with them,” Sbarbaro adds. “I think he put them in boxes at first. Then his friend Harry Krause suggested he donate them to the museum because it was just opening. Back in 1984.”

Several of the patches were damaged, according to Sbarbaro, due to the smoke from the lounge. “They had them dry-cleaned, but some didn’t make it. They sorted and organized them, labeled them by division and unit, built the frame for them, then Dad donated them to the museum.” Sbarbaro recalls.

Louie and his brother Tony both served in World War II. Originally, according to Louie, Jr., both served in the Air Corps, training troops in Georgia. When they were “shipped overseas,” because he spoke Italian, Louie, Sr., became an interpreter for officers in Naples. Tony fought in the Battle of the Bulge and went into the concentration camps. “Uncle Tony didn’t like to talk about that, and really, Dad didn’t either. But the patches were important to each of them,” Louie recalls.

“When men come into the museum,”?Orcutt adds, “the first thing they do is find their patch. They know which one is theirs; they don’t even have to think about it. It’s their heritage; their tradition lives on.”  

Orcutt served in the Naval Air Division as an electronics technician; he is proud that his patch hangs with the others. “I’m very patriotic,” he says.

Melvin Carpenter, a Weed native son who served as a Captain in the Navy, recently bequeathed his sword to the Weed Museum. According to his son, Jim, “Dad may have left Weed back in the 1940s, but Weed never left him. Dad’s remarkable naval career is a wonderful testament to the values and drive instilled in him by this town.” Orcutt will hang Carpenter’s sword over the framed military patches.

Reverend Henry Gaines, Jr., remembers his service days in WWII, too. “I served in the South Pacific, then was taken to the English Channel on D-Day. They emptied us into the water. I couldn’t see; all the bullets went over me and missed me.
I remember the shooting, but the Lord brought me back here. I’ve been blessed all my life.”

“This is my patch,” Weed Museum board member Hudd Oates, says, pointing to the 6th Division’s red patch. “None of us can forget those times, but I’m proud to remember them this way,” he smiles.