LOUISDALE: A local woman has received a special keepsake from the brother she lost 73 years ago.
Margaret White was recently given an Italian bedspread that her brother Raymond Goyetche sent home to Arichat as a gift to their mother while he was serving in World War II. It is the first time she has seen the family heirloom that has been locked away in a cedar chest since the 1940s.
“It brings back memories that are just as vivid today as they were 73 years ago,” said White. “It means everything to me. I couldn’t describe it.”
White, who was 17 years old when her brother went overseas, remembers leaving school to see him off against the wishes of her teachers. Goyetche was killed in 1944 and was buried in Italy just months after sending the gift. After his death, White’s mother stored the blanket away in a trunk for years.
“Once he got killed, I don’t think she wanted to see it anymore. It was too painful,” said White.
White’s other brother, Joseph also served overseas. The family says Joseph tried to join his brother where he was stationed, but was unable to find him before Raymond was killed. Joseph later received the bedspread as a wedding gift.
“He got married in 1950 and my mother gave him the spread. They were married for 67 years and he died just a couple of months ago. Of course, they kept the spread in their chest for 67 years,” said White.
She often wished she could see the blanket, but it remained carefully tucked away. After Joseph’s passing, his daughter Brenda Goyetche Fraser decided to give the blanket to White.
“As a family, we’re so appreciative of our cousin Brenda for giving that blanket to our mother, because it would have been a part of her heritage as well,” said White’s daughter, Germaine White MacDonald. “Mom being the last surviving member of the family, she felt that this is where it belonged, and we certainly appreciate that she would part with it.”
The damask-patterned spread has been perfectly preserved for 73 years. White said that after it was shipped from Italy, the blanket travelled with its owners to Newfoundland and Ontario before coming home to Richmond County. Although it had deep creases from lying folded for so many years, the family said that after a careful steaming, it was like new.
“And of course I have it on my bed, where it will remain. It’s not going in a trunk,” said White. “I believe in displaying it.”
White’s granddaughter, Christina MacDonald has been researching the history of the blanket. She recently contacted the Nova Scotia Museum Archives to find out more about it.
“I sent some pictures to the museum in Halifax, but it’s hard for the people without touching it and seeing it in person to know exactly what it’s made of,” said MacDonald.
“They said it definitely resembles pieces that were made in Southern Italy at that time, but we haven’t found out about any companies or specifics yet.”
MacDonald said she would eventually like to take it to the curator to find out more, but for now, White is keeping the reminder of her brother nearby in her Louisdale home.
“Raymond was always going to send me something and he never got around to it, so now I have this,” said White. “I just love it. A million dollars wouldn’t buy it.”