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By Emily Fitzgerald / [email protected]

While Toledo High School’s trophy case is still under construction, athletic director Grady Fallon’s classroom has become a temporary museum of school history.

Dozens of trophies, dating back to the 1940s, are stacked on every available surface around the classroom. Signed photos of students and coaches from years past are stacked on a table next to shelves of yearbooks. Next to the whiteboard at the front of the room is a dusty wooden shelf containing the story that Fallon is even nervous to touch: funeral flags for four deceased veterans.

“To me, it’s bad mojo if you’re playing with a flag or putting it somewhere it shouldn’t be, there’s a meaning behind it,” Fallon said.

Fallon searches the community of Toledo to help find one of these four veterans’ surviving family members so they can decide what to do with their relative’s memorial flag.

“It’s just a matter of respect for the community, the traditions and the archives,” he said. “If you didn’t know your great-grandfather had a flag in high school and you found out, like, ‘hey, this is your family’s, put it on the shelf and just say ‘c is my grandfather’s”, or whoever it is. I think it’s just a matter of community,” he said.

Fallon recalled receiving an identical flag at his father’s funeral and said he knew how important the tradition was to veterans and their families.

“For me, it’s a tradition that they follow and that’s why I want to make sure these are delivered correctly,” he said.

But other than the names displayed on the front of the shelves — Wallace T. Rudder, Clyde Hill, Edd Lyon and Clarence Norberg — Fallon knows little about these veterans and why their memorial flags are on a shelf in his classroom instead of with veterans. ‘ families.

Rudder’s flag was stored with an undated letter, addressed to a “Miss French”. The letter read: “I am pleased to donate this flag in memory of my husband, a WWII veteran.”

But as far as Fallon could tell from tentatively rummaging the shelves, none of the other flags were stocked with information about their donors.

Some retired school staff may remember why and when the flags were donated to the school, Fallon said: “But even then, who do they belong to? Or what do we do with it?

The flags were originally displayed in the Toledo High School window, but were moved when deconstruction of the old school began last year. Fearing that the flags and some of the older trophies would be damaged in outdoor storage, Fallon offered his classroom in the new building as a place to store items from the old trophy case.

“Anything that I thought was really important or sentimental, I just thought I would keep myself until we found the right place for it,” he said.

The trophy case is one of the last pieces of the Toledo High School reconstruction to be completed. Once done, digital photos and information on all trophies will be publicly available via a smart display in front of the trophy case. But only a fraction of the trophies and school memorabilia that currently clutter Fallon’s classroom will physically fit in the new trophy case.

He is looking for volunteers to help find places to store and display some of the school trophies and memorabilia once they are digitized.

“It’s one of a kind and you’ll never get it back, so I hate to throw it away,” he said, “Even if it’s on someone’s shelf at home, great, because that it’s part of the city and the tradition.”

For the memorial flags in particular, Fallon said he didn’t think school was the right place to display them.

“There just isn’t a space like that anymore (to display them). And obviously we didn’t add to that (memorial shelf) for some reason. … Somehow, whatever tradition started, it was lost.

Fallon tried to contact the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehalis to see if they had any information on the names displayed with the flags, but so far the museum has found nothing.

Anyone with information about the memorial flags and the veterans they belong to is encouraged to contact Fallon at [email protected] or 360-864-2391.