American flags have always been a big deal in our family. When I was kindergarten age, I had a small flag that I would put out first thing every morning. I remember crying because we were late getting home one night and I was sure the Flag Police would arrest me for not bringing the flag in when it got dark.
Mother flew flag almost every day
Mother’s flag wasn’t all-weather, and it wasn’t lighted at night, so she only put it during the day when it was pretty. It provided the perfect backdrop when her kin came to visit.
What’s with the tattered flag?
I put a flagpole in the front yard and bought an all-weather flag that is is lighted at night. I noticed the other day that it was starting to fade, so I made a mental note to replace it before long.
I went out to South Carolina to spend a week with Son Adam and his family. When I got back to Cape, I could see that a strong wind storm must have come through because the tarp over my carport was in tatters.
A couple days later, I noticed that my flag had a small hole in it. By the time I got a replacement ordered, it had grown in size.
I’m going to put up the new flag on Veterans Day to mark the sacrifices that have made it possible for that flag to wave in my front yard.
I’m sure Mother would be happy to see her flag tradition continues.
At the time, I remarked somberly (and maybe a little too dramatically) that I was afraid that flag was a symbol of this nation that was almost ripped apart, and hanging on by a thread.
I’m happy to say that my new flag is flying proudly from a unique flagpole I engineered, partially by accident.
That’s Bill and Rhonda Bolton’s house in the background on a fine Fall day. We always called it the Tinker House because Bob and Mary Tinker lived there for years. The Boltons have lived in it long enough that it’s probably time to rename the place.
How I made the flagpole
My previous flag was attached to a pole in front of the house. When the rose bushes got high, the flag would snag on the thorns. I figured I could solve that problem if I moved it out in the yard.
After scratching my head a bit, I went to the hardware store and discovered that a 10-foot length of 1-inch galvanized pipe would easily slip inside a 30-inch piece of 1-1/4-inch pipe sunk 24 inches into concrete.
I wanted to make it possible to back a trailer into the yard to get firewood, so this lets me take out the long pole and only leave the sleeve sticking out above the ground about six inches.
I drilled holes through both pipes with the intention of putting a bolt through them, but it was after dark when I finished, so I turned the flag and pole in the direction where I thought it would be best and went to bed.
Serendipity sets in
The next morning, I was surprised to see the flag in exactly opposite of the direction it was the previous night.
While I was standing there, a gust of wind rotated the whole pole. I was mesmerized. Figuring there was no way that pole was going to jump out of the sleeve, I decided to forgo the bolts and let it act as a weather vane.
Here’s what it looked like on a gusty day this week. The halo-looking thing at the top is a solar-powered LED array to light the flag at night. The flag sticks up so high that the porch dusk-to-dawn lights only hit the lower half of it.
To be honest, I’m not overly happy with the performance of the halo light, but it’s up there.
One other cool thing is that the pipes make a spooky moaning or groaning sound when they rotate more that about 25 degrees. I couldn’t figure out where the weird sound was coming from until one afternoon when I was outside loading the car and made the connection.
The 10-foot pole is rigid. The “bouncing” is caused by the play from the sleeve being larger than the pole. It’s not going anywhere.
Veterans Day is an appropriate time to show off my new flag.
When I went out to the car this evening, I was shocked to see that the flag in front of the house was torn almost in half. I had planned to replace it because one corner had gotten snagged on rosebush thorns and was torn. I had no idea that it rip asunder like that. I knew we had gotten a little wind, but I didn’t think it was strong enough to do that.
I’ll replace it tomorrow if there are any left in town after all the Trump rallies.
I don’t want to belabor the point, but I’m afraid that flag is a symbol of this nation: ripped almost apart, and hanging on by a thread.
My First Grade Flag Drawing
When I was kindergarten age, my morning ritual was to eat breakfast, then head out to put out my tiny American Flag. In the evening or in bad weather, I’d bring it in. One night, we had been out for a drive and got back home after sunset. I was in tears because I had violated the Flag Code.
This first grade drawing is probably why my Art 101 prof at Ohio University said, “It’s a good thing you’re a photographer.” To be honest, the work I handed in to him wasn’t much improved.
Mother’s flag a focal point for “so long” pix
Mother had a Flag she put out almost every good day, and brought it in at night. It was used for many, many family backgrounds. We had two family traditions: we always tried to take a “so long” photo (Mother never said “goodbye, so we scratched it on her casket), and when we left the house to go on a trip, we’d give two toots on the horn.
My frozen Flag
When I bought the house after Mother died in 2015, I moved the flag holder to the front of the house, installed dusk to dawn lights and flew an all-weather flag 24/7.
I said that in these times when groups are wrapping themselves in the Flag, I wanted to demonstrate that it was MY Flag, too.
An ice storm in 2018 made it look almost like a painting.
When I went out grocery shopping late Saturday night, I thought I could feel moisture in the air. In fact, When I came out of Sam’s, there was a fine mist on my windshield.
“This could turn into freezing drizzle and be really nasty,” I surmised. There was a state salt shaker prepping the intersection of William and I-55, so I wasn’t the only one concerned.
MODOT painted an ugly picture
My weather apps couldn’t make up their minds about heavy snow, light snow, no snow, etc. I saw a bunch of posts from truckers saying that north central MO highways were littered with wrecks, and a glance at the MODOT Traveler Information Map showed that almost everything but SE MO was painted as partially covered, totally covered or Don’t Even Think About It.
Facing a frosty flag
When ice finally did start forming, I debated taking a drive to see if it was worth shooting, but it didn’t look all that exciting, so I gave it a pass.
When I woke up this morning, I saw icicles hanging off the carport again. My all-weather, lighted flag had a strange look to it. It had gotten wet, then frozen overnight. It thawed out fine later in the day, but it looked odd for a few hours.
The closeup at the top of the page looks positively arty. You can click on the images to make them larger.