Several of us gathered on the Stephens House front lawn Sunday afternoon to reminisce about Chariton's 2007 sesquicentennial celebration and formally raise the flag on the new Sesquicentennial Flag Pole, installed there during the past week.
Loren Burkhalter (left) and Don Garrett (representing Carl L. Caviness Post No. 102, American Legion) handled the flag-raising end of the operation.
Several members of the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, including John Braida (mayor in 2007) and Ruth Comer (Chamber executive at the time), shared memories of the observance, the 150th anniversary of Chariton's 1857 incorporation (the founding date is 1849).
The pole was funded in large part by money left in the sesquicentennial fund after all the bills had been paid, held in trust for several years by Chariton Area Chamber-Main Street, then channeled to the flag pole project through Master Gardeners & Friends.
It was a very pleasant program on a beautiful afternoon, then we all retired to the Stephens House front porch for refreshments (thanks to Kathleen and Kay). Linda Baynes has coordinated the flag pole project, so we're grateful to her, too.
When all is said and done, the Iowa flag will fly under the U.S. flag --- but until additional clips are installed the U.S. flag will fly alone. If you want to take a look, and haven't, the pole is positioned as a punctuation mark for West Braden Avenue, which ends at the museum grounds, although of course it is visible when approaching on North 17th from either south or north.
Coincidentally --- and appropriately --- a collection of photographs, documents and other items related to U.S. Air Force Col. Bassel Blakesmith also arrived at the museum on Sunday. Col. Blakesmith, whose career encompassed World War II, Korea and Vietnam, was among Lucas County's most distinguished military veterans --- and we're pleased that this material has found a permanent home at last, although a lot of sorting --- and conservation --- remains to be done.
Col. Blakesmith died during 2003; his widow, Dorothey, during 2004; and their only child, John, during 2011.
Upon John's death and to settle his estate, virtually everything was sold --- but this collection of personal items was set aside and has passed from hand to hand until now. There's nothing of financial value in the assortment, but the historical value of the photographs, correspondence and some other items is considerable.
Some of this will be displayed; hundreds of letters written by Col. Blakesmith and his wife during his overseas postings will be archived, but open to primarily to researchers. Many documents will be respectfully put to rest since they concern business and personal matters that are none of our business, nor anyone else's.
We have no idea what became of Col. Blakesmith's military decorations which, hopefully, were saved by someone. If those should turn up, we'd be pleased to add them to the Blakesmith collection.