Thursday, December 25, 2014

Flagging Report: Flagging on Christmas Eve

I wasn't expecting the brick sidewalk in front of the old Escambia County Courthouse to be very busy Wednesday, December 24. I suspected last-minute shoppers would be few because that part of downtown doesn't have a lot of retail outlets. It's mostly restaurants, offices, and government complexes. The old Courthouse is part of a maze of county offices that take up almost an entire city block.

Top: Old Courthouse, Palafox Place at Government Street, looking north. Bottom: Flagging sidewalk, looking South
Well, I was in for a surprise. Foot traffic was pretty brisk, and almost everyone -- men and women (and a few kids) in a variety of sizes, ages and colors -- was friendly and cordial. A few folks looked preoccupied, as people sometimes do during a holiday rush, but nobody was hostile.
Visitor Flagger -- likes friendly Pensacola

I was joined by a visitor, an experienced flagger, from out of town (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Kirk!) and he was impressed by the friendliness of the people. 

As we were setting up -- tying a Third National onto his flag pole and attaching a First National to my walker, we were assisted by a tall, dreadlocked passerby from New York who asked if we were part of a Christmas parade. Unfortunately, no. That event had occurred about two weeks earlier.

Shortly before that, almost immediately upon our arrival on the sidewalk, we were greeted by a young teenage boy and a man, perhaps his father, distributing Christmas cards.  It set a favorable tone for the entire experience.
Card distributed by well-wishers on Christmas Eve
 (At home, I made photos of the card for  this report. Inside, a hand-written message says, "Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year ... Your Christmas cheer makes people smile!" This treasure will be going into a West Florida Flagger scrapbook, sure enough.)

Throughout our almost two hours on the sidewalk, most everyone responded very positively to our greeting, "Merry Christmas!" and nearly all repeated it back to us with a big smile.

A history buff from California stopped to chat with us about the flags of the Confederacy. He knew about the county's recent vote to remove the historic flags from the civic center's flag display and lamented the censoring of history.

There were many horn-toots, waves and thumbs up from passing motorists. Judging by these actions, it was logical to conclude that a lot of area residents know about -- and are not happy with -- the county's vote. Similar sentiments have shown up on the Internet, in social media, and a petition to commissioners to return the flags.

First National snapping in the breeze. New banner -- Return the Flags!
Three times the Santa-hatted, silver-haired driver a of trolley for Seville Quarter stopped momentarily in the middle of the street to shout words of encouragement to us and declare his support (in a definite New York accent). Traffic behind him waited patiently, perhaps assuming passengers were getting on or off.

Trolley driver for Seville Quarter shouts encouragement and agreement!
All in all, it was a much better day of flagging than my first experience four days earlier. I'm looking forward to doing most flagging in front of the county's complex, which houses the board of commissioners' offices.   
  Connie Chastain        
      West Florida Flaggers        

Courthouse images: Google
All other photos: C.Ward

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flagging Report: Me and Bernie -- Yo Solo ... I Alone

Bust of Bernardo de Galvez at Ft. George, Pensacola
Bernardo de Galvez was a Spanish military leader and colonial administrator who served as colonial governor of Louisiana and Cuba, and later as Viceroy of New Spain....

Galvez aided the American Thirteen Colonies in their quest for independence and led Spanish forces against Britain in the Revolutionary War, defeating the British at the Siege of Pensacola (1781) and reconquering Florida for Spain.
(Continues below, following the flagging report.)

On December 16, plans were first made for flagging the Pensacola Bay Center the following Saturday, December 20, from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Since the West Florida Flaggers are brand new, and hardly anyone knows about us yet, there was a huge chance that I might start out the way Susan did three years ago -- flagging by myself.

Intellicast's  hourly forecast indicated possible showers from 1 pm to 2 pm , and a very decreased chance of rain from 2 pm to 3 pm.

Preparations took most of the time leading up to the flagging -- skimming sidewalk ordinances and such -- and getting ready. This was a challenge because I can't walk or stand except for a few minutes at a time, and flagging comprises long periods of both.

I didn't want to take a lawn chair and sit, so I compromised by buying rolling walker with a crossbar in front that I could sit/lean against if need be. Just in case, I brought along a triangular camp stool (too low to the ground to be comfortable, hard for bad-kneed persons to get up from, but a blessing if you've just got to get off your feet).

A drizzle was falling when the civic center came into view. No other flaggers were on the sidewalk or in the parking lots. Not surprising, considering that the entrances to all the parking lots were barricaded. At one entrance, a couple of  young ladies stood with notebooks. A sign said, Parking, $5.

They told me that "Frozen" was playing at the civic center and the parking lot was reserved for that (and the $5 charge was decreed by the county).  I thanked them and drove around looking for on-street parking, and found a spot beside the southbound lane of Alcaniz near St. Michael's Cemetery. It was about a block from the civic center.

I whipped in, pulled out my walker with the homemade "West Florida Flaggers" banner, flag, oversized purse, and umbrella and started out.

My Rig
It wasn't easy, corralling the walker, flag pole, and umbrella, and eventually I lowered the latter and walked in the drizzle. At the corner of Alcaniz and Chase, the rain stopped abruptly. I was under the I-110 spur overpass.  There was another overpass in the middle of the block and that looked like a good place to flag.

Not many people were coming to the movie, and traffic was sparse on Alcaniz Street. I stood slightly facing the north-bound traffic. Visibility was such that I could not see inside the vehicles.

The camera told me the battery was dead. This was one of my Sony Mavica old-technology cameras recently bought off e-bay. The second was back in the car, a block away. A very long, enormously long block away.

I worked up the determination to return for the other camera. I HAD to have pics. This was an historic occasion.

Back at my Blazer, I drove to one of the entrances to the main parking lot, where the barricade said, "Handicapped parking, $5."

I pulled in and asked the young attendant if I could pay the five dollars and park across the lot next to the sidewalk, even if I wasn't there for the center event.

Temporary, homemade banner
"I'm picketing the county about the flags, " I told him, "and I can only walk short distances. I need my car nearby."

He was going to argue with me at first, but I pointed out that the parking lot was virtually empty -- even the handicapped places. I told him I knew the doors opened shortly after six for the Ice Flyers game, and I would be long gone by then.  I would leave by four.

He said he understood why I would picket the civic center, but that I really should be picketing at the county commissioners' offices on Palafox Place.

"I know. I plan to. I'm going to rotate between both places."

The upshot is, he relented. I got my parking space next to the sidewalk and he let me park for free.

By then, it was between 2:30 and 3:00.  I made a few pictures and watched the traffic, such as it was, splash by. A truck for a electric company passed and the driver tooted and waved. 

Shortly after three, I phoned my husband. "Since I got here late, I'm going to stay longer. I'm going to try to stay until four."

At three twenty, my knees started caving in, so I got the camp stool and spent the rest of my flagging time sitting down.  About 3:30, the wind started picking up. I was warm enough, except for my hands. I stayed until about three forty.

Not a very auspicious beginning for the West Florida Flagger(s). But certainly not a bad one and a success nonetheless, in terms of learning experiences. Things can be done to make the walker more efficient; and if my doc can come through and fix my knees, maybe I won't need it in a few weeks....

There was no opportunity to converse with anyone as there was nobody around but the few people going to the movie. There's not a lot of foot traffic in this area even when it's not raining.

Opportunity to make contacts and converse with people should  increase on the days that the county commissioners' office is picketed. It's located on busy Palafox Place.

Although this can be finalized only when we see how many folks want to flag and when they're available, I want to stick with the two days per week schedule, with one day being Saturday, for people who have to work weekdays.

Beautiful CBF, overcast sky, civic center and five poles with only two flags....
One thing to note about today's flagging. My little 2' by 3' battle flag sure looked beautiful streaming out in the breeze against the gray, overcast sky....         

Connie Chastain         
West Florida Flaggers         


(Continued from above.) His most important military victory over the British forces occurred May 9, 1781, when he attacked and took by land and by sea Pensacola, the British (and formerly, Spanish) capital of West Florida from General John Campbell of Strachur.
Return the flags -- all of them.
While the British and Spanish forces battled it out on land, the Spanish fleet hung around at the mouth of the harbor, fearing bombardment if they tried to enter. One ship that did try ran aground.

Finally, Galvez ordered his ship into the harbor. He managed to avoid both the bottom and the bombardment by sailing close to shore. Once his ship was in the harbor, the rest of the fleet followed. The British were defeated. Their defeat and loss of harbors on the Gulf Coast led to their defeat in the Revolutionary War.

The Coat of Arms authorized for Don Bernardo and the House of Gálvez by the King of Spain includes the now-famous motto "Yo solo" (I alone) to commemorate his personal bravery at the Battle of Pensacola in 1871.

~Various Internet Sources
Galvez Photo: Mark Hilton
Flagging photos: C. Ward

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Third National Honors Mallory

This is the Third National flying proudly over the resting place of Stephen Russell Mallory in Pensacola's historic St. Michael's Cemetery.

Mallory was Secretary of the Navy and was the only member of President Davis's cabinet to serve throughout the war. More on Mallory here:

This beautiful image was taken on December 16, 2014 by West Florida Flagger Scott Hamilton. Thanks, Scott!

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We hope you will visit often and join us in our quest to defend and honor our heritage, particularly the valor and sacrifice of the Confederate soldier.