A yearly tradition: the Memorial Day flags

Life in Ludlow


You saw them over Memorial Day last weekend. We didn’t break the “social distancing” rules, at least not much. For the folks putting up the flags many of you subscribe to in Port Ludlow, Port Hadlock and Chimacum it was, in a way, evidence that we are still around. Frankly my friends, this is the first time in several weeks when I have the opportunity to write about something that has really happened instead of commenting on the lengthening of my remaining hair!

There were 300 U.S. flags put up by more than 20 folks, most of them East Jefferson Rotarians. I called upon a couple of friends to help me and we drove in three separate vehicles to facilitate following the rules. Bob Hobart asked his son, Sam, to help out. (We really like the enhanced visioning skills the young people bring to this project.) Rotarian Bob also asked Sam to sit on the other side of the truck in the back seat. You see, Sam lives in Port Townsend and has several friends not related to Bob. All together, this means Sam is a member of the “carrier” class while Bob is a member of the “elder” class.

The recent weather facilitated the growth of very thick grass and weeds in many locations where the flags were to be erected. At least with the guys with me, Howard Strong and Mark Makarowski, that meant a substantial investment in time as we hunted for the places to put the flags. (The flags are inserted into preplaced PVC pipes that rise 1-2 inches above ground.) There are nine flags at Kehele Park placed 15 feet apart, but you have to find at least one so you can then find the rest. The three of us didn’t really enjoy clawing through the grass for about 20 minutes before we found the first.

John Erickson usually leads a small army of folks to put the 10 flags up on Burner Point, the 16 on Oak Bay Road above the Marina, the 27 below Sound Bank, Port Ludlow Dentistry and Best Homes Real Estate plus a few others around Port Ludlow.

The PVC pipe inserts have a yellow cap to help us find them and John thought of putting a metal screw in the cap to facilitate finding the location with a metal detector borrowed from Olympic Equipment Rentals in Port Hadlock. Most of the caps now sport some metal parts to help in the search.

Pete Leenhouts always presses his wife Helen into flag duty as they tour the South Bay putting up flags. Several new subscribers signed up this past weekend adding even more visibility to this project. This program gets universally high marks as a community project and it raises more than $10,000 that goes to scholarships for local students. The project even draws some folks to help who are not in Rotary but do want to contribute to the community and enjoy the camaraderie.

A pickup truck is a great qualifier. In the past the group always followed the flag installation with breakfast at Snug Harbor. After it closed we convinced the owner of Molcajete to open early on the Saturdays we put up flags. It was good for all of us. Due to the lockdown, well, you know, that option has now gone away. Nobody said this virus was going to be fun.

So, it was Memorial Day, we got the flags up, they looked great, the county is “opening up,” GBF Catering sold 240 BBQ rib dinners, I might get a haircut, (or not), and there are more flags going up. Enjoy the summer, be safe and much of what we love about life will return. Heck, Bob even might let Sam back in the house!

Love a curmudgeon and have a great week!

(Ned Luce is a retired IBM executive whose yearly calendar revolves around the Rotary flag weekends.)


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