Friday, September 6, 2019

Fifty-four Years And Still Counting


I have repeated some of what I wrote four years ago on our 50th anniversary.

On September 4, Larry and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary. It sounds like a long time, even though it seems like yesterday.
Through the years, we’ve been asked how we’ve managed to stay together all these years and still like each other. We usually quote Lorenzo Music. You may remember him as the voice of ‘Carleton, your doorman’ on the Rhoda show or the voice of Garfield, the cat. Years ago, he and his wife were interviewed on a talk show, When they were asked the same question, their answer was, “Low expectations.”

Of course, everyone laughed. But the more we thought about it, the more truth we heard in it. Our expectations often get us in trouble. We set them too high, and then we’re disappointed when they aren’t met. By keeping them lower, we are pleasantly surprised when things work out better than we expected.

Another quote we loved on long marriages came from Robert Mitchum. When asked about his long marriage, he attributed it to “lack of imagination.” We always thought this statement contained an element of truth.

Our low expectations or lack of imagination or the great modeling we had in our families, with many members demonstrating the value of long marriages, may have contributed to our own. Or perhaps we just managed to find the right partner early in life.

We continue to travel and write together. Larry still makes me laugh. So we’ve renewed the contract for another year.
We’re both grateful to have had this time together. I can’t imagine being with anyone else. He’s still a surfer, and sometimes I think of the ocean (and his board) as his mistress. But I knew what I was getting into all those years ago.

And I wouldn’t change a thing!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 6 - Finale




July 10, 2019

We were up, packed, and ready by the time the hotel served breakfast at six a.m. Still, we were not alone in the dining room. Apparently others wanted to get an early start, too.

We ate and finished putting everything away. With only one carry-on bag each, plus my tote and Larry’s backpack, there wasn’t much to check for. Since we went to France in 2014 with just this much luggage for three weeks, we never take full-size suitcases anymore.

We checked out and put our things in the rental car.


For this trip, we asked for a compact car (the cheapest available) since there were just the two of us. We got a Kia Soul. It was a nice, roomy little car, and, it reminded us of our PT Cruiser. It had plenty of interior space and drove well.

Our flight was scheduled for 12:50 p.m., but we still had to get back to Great Falls, MT, fill the tank on the rental car, and drop it off. The border crossing on July fourth had taken us a long time, and we wanted to be sure to give ourselves plenty of breathing room.

We had learned our lesson and programmed Google Maps for the trip all the way to the airport.

Because of our early start, once we got out of town, we encountered very little traffic on the road. In fact, when we reached the border crossing, we were all alone. We pulled up, showed our passports, and zipped right through.

After a stop for gas, we returned the car and then went to the restaurant area where we got a drink and waited for our plane with a couple of hours to spare. I pulled out my Surface tablet, plugged it in, and answered email.

Uneventful flight to Seattle. We had a three-hour layover at the airport, so we had a leisurely dinner at a very nice restaurant. Then onto the plane for the short trip back to Orange County, where a friend picked us up.

I love to travel, but I also love coming home. We live in Paradise (Dana Point, California) and are truly blessed to be here.

EPILOGUE

DeLoss Christensen has visited Spring City to assess our great-grandmother’s headstone. It is still in three pieces, although it appears someone tried to glue it back together with something resembling brown tree sap.

He’ll talk to his monument person to see what we can do about getting it fixed or replaced. When it is finished, several of us will try to go there to rededicate it.

I’m so grateful to have gotten to know all these relatives in the north!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 5

July 8, 2019

We had planned to spend Monday seeing Calgary, return to our hotel, and drive all the way to Banff and back on Tuesday, but Linda Salmon said it was a long trip to make all in one day. She invited us to stay with David and her on Monday night so we could get a head start on Tuesday morning. Since they live on the north end of Calgary, this was a HUGE help. The drive from Lethbridge, where our hotel was located, to Calgary is over two hours. From Calgary to Banff is another hour and a half.

It didn’t take too much thinking to figure out our best bet was to accept her offer.

We ate breakfast at the hotel and re-packed for the night. Then we took our time driving to Calgary. On the way, we were, once again, impressed by the vivid yellow of the fields. We thought they looked like mustard, but we were later told they were rapeseed. We had seen the same crop growing in France on our trips to that country.
Fields of Gold – Alberta, Canada

We had said we’d take Linda and David to lunch, but David was doing some work when we got there. (Yes, it was a weekday…) So, Linda made us lunch. She had baked some homemade chia bread. She proposed grilled cheese sandwiches. How could she have known this is my comfort food? And made with homemade bread, this was truly a treat! (I used to bake all my own bread—and made my own mayonnaise, jam, yogurt, and other thingsbut I gave it up along the way. I must confess, Linda’s was better than mine.

After lunch when David finished his work, he offered to take us on a guided tour of Calgary.

At first glance, I loved the city. It is large enough to have all the amenities I would want in a city, but it is new enough to have been well-planned with terrific architecture. It seems very accessible. It isn’t overwhelming or intimidating.

Calgary
David had a couple of errands to run, so we were afforded a glimpse of what it might feel like to live there. Fabulous architecture and lovely neighborhoods.

We got out several times to take in the views. We saw the stadium area and Indian camp where the Stampede was being held. Linda had invited us to attend with them the next day since seniors would be free. However, I don’t do well sitting in the sun, and Larry had promised a friend we’d go to Banff and take some photos. So, we thanked them for the offer, but decided to go on to Banff the next day.

We said since we hadn’t taken them to lunch, we’d take them to dinner. They made several suggestions, and we ended up at Il Chianti Restaurant, a family-owed Italian place. Wow! Great food, service, atmosphere. Larry ordered linguine with clams, and I had a fabulous orange chicken dish. Of course, we had to try their desserts, and they were as good as our entrees. We felt this was an excellent choice, and we thoroughly enjoyed the company and our meal.

Back at their house, I showed David how to access Ancestry and how to update their branch on my tree. I realized I still needed lots of names and information. I also discovered the Canadian records are not as thorough as the American ones. Since David has lots of the information on the Canadian branch, he was the logical one to fill in the blanks.


July 8, 2019


We wanted to get an early start and tried to be quiet, but Linda and David were up when we got ready to leave. We thanked them once again for their hospitality and for the fun we’d had with them.

Then we were off to the north.

Banff is a charming little town in the middle of a National Park. It reminded me of Breckenridge, Colorado when we lived in Denver many years ago. We entered the park and went directly to the town. We walked around. (The actual town is only about three blocks one direction and about four the other.)

Since we had left without eating breakfast, we looked for somewhere to eat. We could have gone to one of the big hotels but settled for a little creperie.

Then on to shopping. We each got a t-shirt. Since we were flying, we didn’t buy much else, but we found some keychains we could use for Christmas ornaments. Each year, we have given our nieces and nephews and Kim ornaments from wherever we have traveled during the year. We now have another generation of great-nieces and nephews, so the tradition continues.

We drove farther into the mountains, and Larry took more photos.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Banff National Park
We had already decided to skip the additional trip to Lake Louise since we had a long drive to get back to the hotel.

Once again, the lack of internet connection proved a challenge. Fortunately, we could follow the signs toward Calgary. Once there, we had enough internet connection to use Google Maps to set our route.

We had discovered that once a destination was mapped, it would hold until we got to the end, even if we lost connection in between.

Unfortunately, we missed a turn and ended up on a dirt road in the middle of a huge field. And we lost our connection. The only thing we could figure out to do was retrace our steps and take the turn we were supposed to have taken in the first place.

Fortunately, the road led to a highway whose number we recognized, and we turned south. Eventually, we saw the signs for Lethbridge. We turned off, but then realized we were on the wrong end of town and had no idea where to go from there.

We remembered all the Tim Horton restaurants had wi-fi, so when we spotted one, we stopped for a cold drink. I was able to use Google Maps to map the route back to our hotel.

We are very unaccustomed to being without an internet connection, and this happened at the worst possible time. However, we were able to get back, and it only took a bit longer than planned.

We stopped for dinner and then returned to the hotel to repack for our early morning departure the next day.

To be continued…

Monday, August 12, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 4



July 7, 2019

We took our time getting ready the next morning after an exciting two days with the family. We were in for a nice surprise when we arrived in the dining room for breakfast. Another cousin, Lily-Ann Kenney had spent the night at the same hotel. (Lily-Ann had bid on and won one of the copies of our book.)
    

Lily-Ann Kenney
She lives in British Columbia and had driven her motor home to the reunion, intending to camp. However, she was stopped at a signal in Calgary on her way south, and the motor home stopped. She had to wait nearly two hours in traffic—with other cars racing around her—until help arrived. The repair person said he wouldn’t be able to get parts until at least Monday, or perhaps Tuesday. Lily-Ann just smiled. “Then, I guess I’ll plan on Wednesday.”

She inquired about car rental, and the prices were steep. But the repair many said he had a rental car she could use inexpensively. (She was determined to make it!)

Her son made reservations for her in Lethbridge for Saturday night and in Calgary for Monday and Tuesday. (I haven’t found out when she was able to get her motor home back.)

We had a great time talking during breakfast, and we finally stopped when they shooed us out of the room.

We said goodbye to her and then got on with our original plans for the day: to visit the town of Raymond, where my aunts were born. We already knew the ranch no longer existed, but we wanted to see the town.

What a cute little place—just a few blocks in each direction—with old homes and interesting buildings. Unfortunately, since it was a Sunday, everything was closed. I wish I could have seen the museum.

We drove out of town in several different directions, hoping we could get close to where the ranch used to be. A block or so beyond the town center, the paved streets turned into dirt roads. There is no ‘there’ there.

We later found out the ranch was much farther than we had explored. However, we knew there was a body of water somewhere near as we saw boats and other watercraft in driveways along the way.

Our final stop was the Temple Hill Cemetery. I loved it! It’s a charming spot on top of a hill, surrounded by trees.

We drove around checking each row for familiar names, and we found them.

Marinus DeLoss Lund and Mary Ellen Olsen Lund (center) surrounded by other family members - lots of them 

In addition to Lunds, we found several other family names we recognized from the previous two days. Once again, however, a misspelling… Marinus DeLoss’s first name is spelled ‘Merinus.’ All his records on Ancestry have the same spelling as his father: Marinus.

(My grandmother, Margaret Imelda McNamara Lund, is buried in the old cemetery at Mission San Gabriel in California. I hunted for a long time to find her. One reason it was difficult was her name is spelled with two ‘T’s’ on her headstone. I’m convinced people weren’t concerned about spelling in those days.)

The day before, we had seen a lovely portrait of Marinus DeLoss and Mary Ellen (Olsen). It has remained in the family and is treasured. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Marinus DeLoss Lund (patriarch of the Canadian branch) and Mary Ellen Olsen Lund
My great-grandfather, Marinus, patriarch of the family (the one with the 23 children), was a very handsome man, even in his later years.

Marinus Lund
I have photos of all his children (except the two who died in infancy). Many of the boys were also handsome, and some were exceptionally good looking like their father. We all agreed Marinus DeLoss was one of these. He and Mary Ellen made a very attractive couple.

My dad inherited the Lund good looks. When I first saw the movie The Way We Were, I thought Dad looked a lot like a young Robert Redford. What do you think?



Henry LaRay Lund
Dad loathed having his picture taken, and we have very few of him. In addition, he died at thirty-seven, so there are none of him as he aged. (The first one above is his high school graduation photo. The one in the center is his work photo, and the last one is his army picture.)

After our trip down memory lane, we drove through the town of Lethbridge and spotted an IHop, so we decided to stop there for an early dinner.

We had intended to see Calgary the next day (Monday), return to the hotel, and then drive up to Banff the following day. However, my cousin, Linda, invited us to spend the night with her in Calgary. That way, we’d have a running start the next morning. (She also invited us to go to the Stampede with them on Tuesday because senior citizens were free. However, I don’t do too well sitting in the sun all day, so we declined.)

We went to bed early on Sunday night because we wanted to get an early start in the morning. The drive from Lethbridge to Calgary was still three hours.

More to come…

Monday, August 5, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 3


July 6, 2019

After having met many of the family members the day before, I was anxious to meet more of them on Saturday. The unofficial starting time was 10:00 a.m., and we arrived a few minutes early.

Some of the campers were up and about, and we waved to them as we arrived. The building was still locked, so we waited for someone to show up with the key. Finally, Marilynn and her husband, Neil, got there, and we were able to stash our fruit tray in the refrigerator.
Marilynn Lund Broadhurst, Lorna Lund Collins, Linda Christensen Salmon


Marilynn and Linda were the two cousins on this branch who were the first matches I found when we had our DNA sequenced. Actually, Marilynn and I had communicated on Ancestry.com before that. Other DNA “cousins” showed up later, and I got to meet them, as well.

I had been in touch with Linda’s brother, DeLoss Christensen. He lives in Utah, and came to the reunion with his wife, Toni.

Toni and DeLoss Christensen
I think he and my brother somewhat resemble each other.

I was very happy to get to know him because we share a common concern. When we visited the Pioneer Cemetery in Spring City, Utah (where the Lund family settled when they arrived in the US) in 2012, the headstone for my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Ashworth Lund, was in three pieces. It appears an attempt has been made in the intervening years to stick it back together, but it almost looks worse now. DeLoss wants to contact a monument maker to either have hers and her husband’s (Marinus Lund) restored or to have them replaced. Off and on since 2012, I have tried to locate someone to do it without success.

Now that DeLoss is taking action to make it happen, I am thrilled. I told him if he needed additional funds, to contact me. More later about his intention to fund the project.

I had talked to several of my cousins about this project, and my cousin, Roger Royal was as enthusiastic as I to see it happen. Roger died earlier this year, and this seems like something I can also do for him.

Lunch was served: Alberta beef sandwiches with lots of sides: industrial size pans of potato salad, coleslaw, chips, raw veggies, and a variety of other salads as well as our fruit tray.

I also got to meet many of the other descendants of Marinus DeLoss.
Linda Christensen Salmon, Jeffrey Reed Salmon, LeRay Ralph Witbeck
I was especially glad to know my dad’s middle name was perpetuated in the family. The original spelling was like my dad’s: LaRay. However, as often happens, somewhere along the line, the spelling changed. LeRay told me there is yet another spelling somewhere in the family.
Marie Ralph Witbeck is the eldest of the cousins. LeRay is her son.
Lunch was enjoyed by all.





After lunch, the kids (and those who still felt like kids) enjoyed outside games: water balloon fight and human piňata.


One of the highlights of every reunion is the auction. DeLoss Christensen and Terry Lund did the honors. Family members donate crafts and other goods to be auctioned. This photo was taken after some of the items had been bought—including two hard copies of our book, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park. We learned in past years the bidding sometimes became intense. (Are we Lunds competitive? You bet!)

DeLoss told me he had made an “executive decision” that some of the funds raised would be used to restore the headstones in the Spring City Pioneer Cemetery.

After the auction, desserts (a few of which can be seen on the left) were served. The Lunds are also great cooks!

We spent the rest of the time looking at pictures and other memorabilia. I had planned to share my tree on Ancestry.com with them, but there was no wi-fi. It seemed strange to find many stretches where it simply didn’t exist.

Terry Lund had salvaged the door from the family ranch before it was flooded. (The original ranch no longer exists.) He brought it to show us. In the photo with me are Linda’s daughter, Alita Salmon Laurie, and her husband, Evan Remington Laurie. Alita did her Mormon mission in Japan, so we had fun talking with her.

When we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave, Terry said we had to stop by his house, just a few blocks away, to see his “stuff.” His house should be a museum. His father and two others in the family were world champion rodeo riders. He has dozens of their silver belt buckles, several saddles and lots of other memorabilia. What a treat to see it!


DC Lund’s watercolor of the family ranch
Our trip wasn’t over yet, however.
To be continued…

Monday, July 29, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 2

July 5, 2019

The first day of the reunion wouldn’t start until about 5:30 p.m. on Friday, so we had the morning to ourselves.

I had taken my Mickey Mouse jacket—my favorite piece of clothing. However, the zipper had been giving me a bad time, and it finally broke. The weather reports I had looked at a couple of weeks earlier had said it would be hot. By the time we arrived, the prediction was for cool weather with a chance of rain. So, I needed a warm replacement for Mickey.

We also needed to take a salad or dessert for Saturday’s meal, and I had discovered there was a Costco in Lethbridge, where we were staying.

After breakfast, we headed out to shop. We had free wi-fi at the hotel, so I programmed the address on my phone. While we drove to Costco, it rained. However, it had pretty well stopped by the time we arrived. We decided on a large fruit tray since it could be either a salad or dessert.

Then we went on to Walmart. It drizzled on the way, so in addition to some toiletries and a hooded sweatshirt with “Canada” on the front, we picked up a small travel umbrella. Larry had intended to throw one of ours into his suitcase, but he forgot. Of course, by the time we walked out, the umbrella was no longer needed. (We never used it…)

Since by then it was two o’clock, we were hungry and decided to find somewhere for lunch. We drove around until we spotted a breakfast/lunch place. What a find!

Cora had a terrific menu. Everything looked good. I ordered their veggie skillet: vegetables (with no mushrooms) covered with melted cheese and a bechamel sauce. Larry had the fruit crepe—a HUGE crepe! It was served on a platter, and the crepe hung over the ends. The fruit was covered in warm custard, and three huge mounds of whipped cream perched on top. He was a really happy camper. So was I. We had hoped to get back there before we left, but we never made it. Wish they had locations here in California.

We put the fruit tray in the mini-refrigerator in our room, and then headed out for the reunion at Centennial Reunion Park in Sterling.

Through the years, traditions had been established. The first was dinner on Friday night: hot dogs and watermelon, followed by “flap jacks.” I have always used this term to refer to pancakes, but the family also calls these “Navajo Fry Bread.” More about them later.

One of the first people I spotted was Marilynn, who had invited us. It was nice to see a friendly face. She showed us where to go. Even though the event was held in a park, it had a great building with large kitchen, dining area, and restrooms.

Several of the attendees and their families camped, and the park had facilities both for tents and RVs. I don’t camp. Last year, I even wrote a blog about why.

Larry helped set up the tables while I signed us in and introduced myself. Everyone wore nametags (thank goodness). Each of the members of DeLoss’s family also indicated which of his children they were descended from. I wrote my grandfather’s name, and had to explain the relationship several times. Larry just wrote “Lorna’s husband.”

The hot dogs were grilled, served with all the trimmings, and dinner began amid lots of visiting.

Later on, the bread dough was brought out and torn into pieces about the size of small pancakes, thinner in the middle and thicker around the edges. They were fried in lard. (The gals all swore this was the secret.) Several sauces were  available: maple syrup, honey, golden syrup (the best), corn syrup with cinnamon, and several others. Of course, Larry had to try them all.
The ladies kept making these until all of the dough was cooked. They decided not to bring as much dough to the next one! However, I think all of these treats were eaten.

Then a fire was built in the fire ring. Of course, marshmallows and toasting forks came out, and everyone ended up sticky.

Since the sun doesn’t set until around ten at night, the group didn’t start to break up until about then.

We returned to the hotel to rest and anticipate meeting even more of the relatives on Saturday.

To be continued…

Monday, July 22, 2019

Canada 2019 – Part 1



I have always known about the Canadian cowboys in my family. In fact I wrote about them on my blog. But I had never met them. My aunt had, however. She and her older sister were born in Canada when my grandfather moved his family there. My dad was born in Nevada not too long before the move.

My aunt told me she had attended a couple of the family reunions in Calgary  and said I should go sometime. But I never got around to it, and then my aunt died. 

A couple of years ago, we had our DNA sequenced, and guess who showed up—several of the Canadians. I have corresponded with them ever since, so I felt I knew who they were. This year, the cousin in charge of the reunion invited me to come. I had lots of questions for this branch of the family, and they were curious about the California branch, so I said we would attend.

My grandfather was one of twenty-three children—his, hers, and theirs. Grandpa was one of the thirteen by his father’s first wife, Mary Jane, and so was the head of the Canadian branch. Marinus DeLoss Lund was the third oldest. My grandfather, Henry Ramsbottom (an unfortunate name from his maternal grandfather) Lund was number nine. Grandpa was eight when his mother died. DeLoss (the family often called the children by their middle names) was seventeen.

Marinus DeLoss Lund family circa 1918

Parents in center: Marinus DeLoss Lund (called “DeLoss”) and Mary Ellen. Back row: Clark, Andrew DeLoss, Clatie Jane, Manila, and Arthur. On Marinus's lap is Hazel and on Mary Ellen's lap is Harold. Between the parents are Rozzel in front and Mary behind. Crystal stands next to her mother. Not yet born: Ersel (Bronc).

In 1902, when he was twenty-six, DeLoss moved to Canada. At the time, land grants were offered to anyone who would settle a parcel of land.

In 1919, my grandfather joined his brother in Canada. DeLoss had a ranch in Raymond and raised cattle. All of the family had been involved in the family ranch in Utah growing up (The Hat-L-Bar). Grandpa was a blacksmith as well as a carpenter and cowboy. I imagine his services were welcomed on the ranch in Canada (the Hat-L).

Both of my aunts were born while they lived in Canada. Not long after the younger one was born, they returned to the US and joined other family members who lived in California.

When the invitation came to attend this year’s reunion, I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to see where my dad’s family had lived and to get to meet some of those relatives in person.

July 3,2019

On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, we left Orange County airport in the afternoon. After a layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, we arrived in Great Falls, Montana. The cousins had said it was a bit closer to Sterling, where the reunion would take place, than Calgary.

We arrived late, so we took a room at a hotel near the airport for the night. This was a good idea since we were tired.

July 4, 2019

By the next morning, we were rested. After breakfast, we set out for Canada.

The border crossing took nearly an hour—probably because of short staffing due to the holiday.

Before we left home, Larry had called Garmin and paid for the addition of the Canada map to his GPS. We crossed the border, and the GPS stopped working. Fortunately, I had also programmed the route to our hotel in Lethbridge on my phone, so we were able to use it to find our way there. The trip was made more pleasant because I had brought my iPod with over 20,000 of my favorite songs, and we listened to them on the road.

The three-and-a-half-hour drive passed through incredible farmland. It was easy to see why Montana is called “Big Sky Country.” The landscape runs directly to the horizon in all directions. The clouds in the clear, blue sky were gorgeous pillows of white marshmallow. The whole thing looked surreal.

Not long after we passed into Canada, storm clouds gathered. Several times I mentioned to Larry how much the vista looked like an Andrew Wyeth landscape. The crops were vibrant green and yellow (mustard?) as far as the eye could see. Right at the horizon, light shone below the clouds, illuminating the fields. Above, the sky was in shades of gray. The view looked more like a painting than reality. I told Larry if anyone painted it as it looked, no one would believe them.

We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and then went to a nearby Tim Horton’s for a bite to eat. These fast food places are ubiquitous in Canada. We weren’t too hungry, so the small meal hit the spot.

As we arrived back at the hotel, I discovered my purse was missing. I didn’t panic, but I was afraid I had left it behind. However, we returned to the restaurant, and my purse was still hooked to the back of the chair I had used. To celebrate, we ordered a ten-pack of “Tim Bits.” These are doughnut holes—just enough for a sweet bite.

Back at the hotel, we watched a little TV and then prepared for the first day of the reunion.

To be continued…

Monday, July 15, 2019

The World’s Most Expensive Flag - continued


Here is the follow-up blog my husband, Larry K. Collins, wrote about his beloved flag in 2012:

Previously, my wife, Lorna, blogged about my owning the world’s most expensive flag.

It’s true. Some forty years ago, in 1970, just after we moved into our first house, a person came to the front door selling American flags for some worthy cause. I don’t remember what the cause was, but I’m sure it must have been worthy.

A twenty-five dollar donation, and I became the owner of the flag, complete with mounting bracket, and two-piece aluminum pole topped with a nifty genuine plastic eagle. I reasoned, we didn’t have a flag and needed one for the house. It was a weak moment, I must admit.

On our next trip to the local drug store, Lorna pointed out the identical boxed flag sets on sale for $2.95. And for the past forty years, she has reminded me of my extravagance on every holiday: every Presidents Day, Forth of July, Memorial, Labor, Veterans Day, etc.

Because of the expense, I have endeavored to take very good care of my prized flag, carefully storing it at night and bringing it inside in inclement weather. And it’s lasted for more than forty years, far longer than just any old $2.95 flag deserved. Still, over the years it had become somewhat faded and thin in places.

Now, I have sad news to report. Yesterday evening, July third, I was shocked to see that the extended wing of the genuine plastic eagle had caught and ripped a one-foot gash parallel to, and between the twelfth and thirteenth stripes. Unfortunately, the material has become too thin and worn to accept sewing back together. I must conclude its time has come. It will need to be replaced.

I put it out on July 4, 2012 for the last time. I figured it deserved one last day in the sun before being officially retired.

I went on the Internet to discover the proper way to dispose of an American flag. Here’s what I found on USA flag site (usa-flag-site.org) and The Flag Keepers (flagkeepers.org).

There are several ways in which you may give your American flag the proper retirement without showing disgrace to this great country. If you would like to dispose of the flag yourself then the most fitting way is to hold your own, private ceremony. The U.S. Flag Code states, "The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferable by burning." After your flag has been burned, the ashes should be buried. If you cannot burn and bury the flag yourself, Flag Keepers will retire your flag in a proper and respectful ceremony for a price. Or several other organizations that will retire your flag are: VFW, American Legion, Boy or Girl Scouts of America, and Marine Corps League.

Since I’m not personally into burning flags and burying ashes, I will contact the Marine Corps for proper retirement. [The flag ultimately went to the local VFW for disposal. Lorna]

Also, while I’m on the subject of flags, I have a story told me by my cousin-in-law, Ron Walker. He was Director of National Parks from 1973 to 1975.

During his tenure as director, a park ranger was killed in the line of duty. Ron immediately directed that all National Park flags be lowered to half-staff. About twenty minutes later, his phone rang.

“Ron,” the voice said. “This is President Nixon.”

“Yes Mr. President” Ron quickly responded, all the while thinking. Why is the president calling me personally?

“Ron,” the voice continued. “I was just wondering why the flag on the White House is at half-staff.”

Then Ron remembered. The White House is also a national monument, and therefore subject to park rules. He explained the situation to the President.

“Fine,” Nixon responded, “I just wanted to know. Proceed.”

He hung up, and Ron breathed a sigh of relief.

While I have treated this blog lightly and with humor, there is a seriousness to it. My old flag itself is merely a piece of cloth, and dye, and stitching. It is not my country. It is a symbol of my country, honored for what it represents, not for some magic or inherent value. 

The new replacement flag will be just as much a symbol and just as honored as was the old one. However, the old flag has been part of our family for so long, through the bi-centennial, 9-11, births and deaths, and all the other events of our lives, both good and bad, for the past forty years. As I fold it up for the last time, I’m reminded of standing on a hill before my father’s flag-draped coffin and hearing the sweet tones of a lone bugle playing "Taps."