We don’t talk about the “July 4th Incident”, not if Whitney is within earshot.
Independence Day has always been a big deal here. Back in the heyday, a steamboat would carry half of Graeber’s Landing to the lodge to watch the fireworks. Whitney has always been responsible for this display as it combined his love for explosions with his passion for blowing things up. One year he managed to get his hands on a box of dynamite from the team blasting the line for the new railroad. He used this volatile contraband to “juice” his already dangerously powerful rockets, firecrackers, spinners, poppers, and roman candles.
The resulting spectacle began well. Whitney stood on the raft anchored in front of the lodge and the townsfolk craned their necks from the dock. Every explosion was a little louder than the last, and each was greeted with an even more appreciative gasp of delight. But soon the fireworks grew to a frightening size, and with each thunderous blast the crowded backed up nervously, until they were off the dock and right up on the lawn.
When Whitney set off his “pièce de résistance”, a giant red white and blue rocket, it shot high into the air, then turned straight back down and ricocheted off the raft. It hurtled past the dock, across the lawn, and through the screaming crowd before it exploded against the pine tree flagpole, setting it and the Stars and Stripes alight. That was the first and last time the Lodge celebrated July 4th by burning the American flag.
This is not that flag. We found this vintage linen American flag carefully folded and tucked away in an old chest up in the attic. It has 48 stars, meaning it was sewn sometime after 1912 (when New Mexico and Arizona joined the Union) and before 1959 (when Alaska was granted statehood). This was the official flag for 47 years, longer than any other, through two World Wars and 8 Presidents: Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.
It's in lovely condition, with its original halyard and wooden cleat. We confess to be conflicted about parting with it. But it would look even better on your wall than ours.