A moment of recognition at Crabapple Lane slide show; both have lived in Fayette for decades
It took some convincing for Jessica Faulkner to get her grandfather to come to the Veterans Day breakfast at Crabapple Lane Elementary School, where she teaches third grade.
But when Alvin Parker arrived for the Nov. 10 event, he saw something he did not expect.
Above, U.S. Navy veterans Dale Andrews (L) and Alvin Parker. Photos/Submitted.
The attendees watched a slideshow in the cafeteria with photographs of veterans past and present. “As we walked to the library, he told me that he thought he recognized one of the people in the slideshow,” said Faulkner.
The slideshow played again in the library, and this time Parker pointed at the screen and said, “There, that’s the guy. We were in boot camp together in the Navy.”
Faulkner saw the name on the screen and knew the man, Dale Andrews, was the grandfather of one of her former students. She went and asked him where he went to boot camp. “San Diego, 1955,” was his answer.
She knew that was the same time and place that Parker began his military service. So she made the customary introductions and the two men began talking.
Parker said later that he recognized Andrews from his photo taken six decades ago but would not have known who he was if they had just passed each other in the hallway at the school. It took a few moments to click with Andrews even as the two men talked.
“I really didn’t recognize him at first because we were all really young,” said Andrews, who has three grandchildren attending Crabapple Lane Elementary. “But he kept talking and things started to make sense.”
Parker grew up in Oak Ridge, Tenn., while Andrews is a native of College Park. Both men enlisted in the Navy in 1955 right out of high school and were sent to San Diego.
“He wasn’t in my company, but we were out there at the same time,” said Parker.
After boot camp, both men were stationed in California — Parker in Long Beach and Andrews in Imperial Beach, just north of the Mexican border. They spent a great deal of time the next four years on ships in the Pacific and the Far East.
Each man spent a single four-year hitch in the military before returning home. Parker worked in Tennessee for a few years and married before moving to Georgia, eventually settling in Fayette County in 1972. Andrews moved to Fayette a few years before that, so both men have been within a few miles of each other for nearly five decades.
Their conversation also revealed that Andrews’ wife knew Parker and his wife because all three of them worked at Nabisco in Atlanta at the same time. She was there 18 years, while the Parkers both retired from there after more than 30 years. Andrews worked 41 years for the U.S. Postal Service in College Park and Atlanta.
“Both of them were so excited and surprised to be reunited with a boot camp friend from so long ago,” said Faulkner. “Neither had any idea the other would be there.”
Andrews’ grandson, Carson Moses, was in Faulkner’s class her first year at the school.
Now that the men have reconnected, they are looking forward to getting together again soon especially since they are practically neighbors. In the meantime the families continue to marvel at how their impromptu reunion came about.
As Faulkner put it, “It’s such a small world.”