White Parachute

A Thing Full of Potential

By Karlene Bayok Edwards

“Joe, if that parachute is from the dump, the kids can’t touch it until I’ve washed it,” Mother said. Dad stood at the edge of our yard in McCall, his arms overflowing with dingy white fabric. I could tell from his grin he’d brought Ron and me something special, though I had no idea what until Mother identified it. She took the parachute and headed for the laundry room.

My younger brother and I looked at each other. Although we were only six and nine in 1962, we were smart enough to know that our yard held nothing tall enough for us to leap off with a parachute. We didn’t know how to play with it any other way, but Dad seemed so pleased with his surprise, we knew we’d figure it out.

Although Dad had never jumped with a parachute, he did know something about them. Three years earlier, in 1959, he and his construction crew built the three-and-a-half story parachute loft for the McCall Smokejumper Training Program that had begun in 1943, the third such program established in the United States for these highly-trained men and women who parachute into rugged and remote terrain to battle forest fires.

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Karlene Bayok Edwards

About Karlene Bayok Edwards

Karlene Bayok Edwards grew up in McCall and graduated from McCall-Donnelly High School. She volunteered at the McCall Library and later had a thirty-four-year career as a school librarian. She earned degrees in English literature and library science in Arizona, where she and her husband settled. Now retired, she writes from the vivid memories of her childhood and from the Idaho backcountry stories told by her parents, Joe and Marcella Bayok.

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