Weathered and pitted with history the reclaimed wood of the the disappearing Midwest barn is the inspiration and the canvas for Marie Roth’s hand painted tributes to Old Glory. Each American flag comes with a short bio of the barn where the wood originated and story of the flag design. From the Betsy Ross to the 50 star, each flag is truly a unique embodiment of history.
The movement to statehood starts in 1912 by which time both Alaska and Hawaii are official US territories, granting their citizens the right to vote. Beginning in 1916 both territories apply each year for admission to the Union. By 1959 it appears that only Alaska will become a State because of its strategic proximity to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It is also a major fueling stop for US military planes flying to the Pacific. While flag makers are busy designing and manufacturing a 49 star flag, Bob Heft, a 17-year-old high school student in Ohio, decided to design a 50 star flag.
Wise beyond his years, Heft was certain that because Alaska’s Territorial voting history was Democratic and Eisenhower a Republican President, Eisenhower would be willing to admit the Republican voting Territory of Hawaii. He added l00 stars (50 on each side) to an old 48 star flag and handed the project in to his history teacher, Stanley Pratt. Mr. Pratt commented that if Heft’s design was accepted by Congress his grade would change from a B- to an A. Heft accepted the challenge and sent it first to Ohio’s governor and then to his representative in Congress, Walter Henry Moeller. Heft asked Moeller to store the flag until the 50 star design was needed.
In August of 1959, President Eisenhower signed a proclamation adding Hawaii to the Union. Heft’s flag was then brought to the design committee by Congressman Moeller. On July 4, 1960, Heft and Eisenhower stood together in Washington to watch the first 50 star flag unfurled. (And Heft did receive his “A” grade in History.)
This flag is painted on siding from a barn built in Racine County, Wisconsin c. 1877 most likely by Herman Frank. Mr. Frank was an immigrant, originally from Germany, who had settled on the East Coast but moved further west to take advantage of cheap land grants and the fertile, level soil of the Midwest. Two generations of his family farmed the property before it was bought by the Hinkel family. The farm next door was owned by the Guckenberger family. Ron Guckenberger and Shirley Hinkel were childhood sweethearts and married at the end of high school. It was their intention to spend their lives together farming. Ron’s father thought this was a terrible idea and convinced Ron that farming was a perilous life with ever impending financial crisis.
Ron joined the United States Air Force, and he and Shirley traveled the world for 30 years, having four children along the way. But, like George Washington, Ron Guckenberger just wanted to be a farmer. Shortly after Ron retired from the service his father passed away. When he and his brother divided the estate, Ron asked for the farm. Shirley’s parents passed away shortly after and she also asked for the farm as her part of their estate. They moved into what had been her parents’ farmhouse and began raising cash crops of soy and corn, and still do. But they no longer live in the farmhouse—being well into their 80’s they have moved into a one-story ranch home just down the road. Ron hopes he dies falling off the tractor and Shirley is pretty sure she will die falling off the mower.
|Dimensions||12 x 12 x 12 in|