Monday, October 20, 2014

Why I Like the Union Jack.

Why I Like the Union Jack.

I was recently in good old Park Ridge, Illinois for my 45th Maine South High School Reunion, with a free afternoon to hang out uptown.  Which reminded me of why I like the Union Jack.  I like the good old British flag for a number of reasons, not the least which is having lived in Canterbury for a year.  And it’s a great-looking flag.  But the most important reason is that the good old Union Jack once fluttered proudly above the streets of Park Ridge, on July 4, 1969, to be precise. 

Yes, it fluttered on a flag pole outside of Bob Rowe’s Evening Pipe Shop, proudly, and certainly not defiantly, amidst dozens of American flags lining the streets downtown for our national holiday.  We had taken the Jack to Maine East for the fireworks display the night before, waving it around a few times to the general merriment of anyone who noticed, then sitting on it like a beach blanket to watch the show.

So there we were the following afternoon – it may have been July 5th, I suppose – sitting outside the Shop when a couple of policemen emerged from City Hall across the street.  They advanced towards the shop looking even more grim and displeased than usual. 

One of them, the by-then notorious – to us teenagers - Sergeant Schueneman, growled: “Whose flag is this?”

“Not mine,” chirped a couple of us, which was quite true, for Bill Wood, the owner of the flag, was not there. 

The sergeant then proceeded to snap off the wooden pole, take the offending flag - of our mother country and NATO ally – turn around and disappear into City Hall, where the Park Ridge Police to this day maintain their headquarters.  We dashed into the Shop, found Bob Rowe, the owner and our benevolent protector, and shouted:

“Bob!  Bob!  They’ve taken the flag!  Sergeant Schueneman just stole the Union Jack!  He just walked over here and broke the pole and took it!”

Amidst much more shouting and confusion, Bob calmly took the phone, dialed the police station and held his hand up for quiet.  Upon reaching the desk sergeant, said loudly and firmly:

“One of your policemen just came over here to the Pipe Shop and took a British flag.   That flag is private property and has been in the family for years.  You have no right to take that flag whatsoever.  I am coming across the street to the station right now, and I expect to get it back.”

He marched out the front door, all five feet two inches of him, across Hodges Park and into City Hall.  We held our breath.  Barely two minutes later, he emerged with the flag and we burst into cheers. 
So I am happy to cheer for both the American flag and the Union Jack, two symbols of limited government, rule of law and much else that is good. 


James Mayo said...

The flag is the wrong way around.

Unknown said...

Love this story! At the age of 16 back in 1972 we loved going to visit Bob, his wife and the shop! Thank you for this memory.