BRANFORD — While at a Quilts of Valor presentation for fellow Branford VFW Post 12106 member Grant Briggs back in June, Chuck Larkins found himself feeling inspired.
The North Branford resident, who served in Vietnam as a member of the Air Force, approached Jane Dougherty, Connecticut co-coordinator of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, the volunteer group dedicated to covering U.S. military service members and veterans touched by war with a hand-made quilt.
Dougherty left a kit in her mailbox with material cut in different sizes and shapes and instructions on assembling a quilt top. Larkins picked it up.
“My wife is a quilter,” he said. “But she told me she wasn’t going to do it herself. She challenged me to make it.”
Larkins accepted the challenge. “The only thing [his wife] Claire did was swap out the mistakes.”
Evidently he enjoyed it. Soon he found himself in Dougherty’s sewing room picking out patterns for Mike and Laurie Oliverio, his brother- and sister-in-law, both of whom served in the Army.
Six weeks later, with Claire ripping out his mistakes and Dougherty sewing the quilt tops to the batting and backing fabric, there were — two quilts.
Mike’s quilt, which Larkins dramatically unveiled at the VFW Post 12106 meeting last Thursday night, features Washington Redskins fabric, with two squares showing 1969-1970, his dates of service in Vietnam, and FSB Birmingham, the base where he served. Claire’s includes the words Italy and Texas, where she was stationed in 1980 and 1983.
“You are something Chuck,” Mike said, as Claire, Laurie, and their kids, Megan McKay and Vinnie Oliverio, looked on. “You are something else!”
Rumor has it that Mike has a project planned for his brother-in-law.