‘Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!’

By Maggie Bonanomi

There is nothing like a row of red geraniums in clay flowerpots to let you know summer is finally here — along with some great red, white and blue! It’s a perfect time to look for patriotic and flag related items as well as all kinds of things red white and blue.

During the summer we have two holidays to celebrate and display our American flag. Flag day is on June 14 and, of course, there’s the Fourth of July. But I think all summer is a good time.

Our American flag with its 50 stars is easily “vintage,” even if its brand new, as the last two stars added were for the states of Alaska and Hawaii, both entered the Union in 1959. You can still easily find all sizes of 48 star flags, which I love to put in an old crock or other container, even poked into your potted plants, they look festive in large groups.

Flag holders that display multiple small flags or a small stand that displays a single flag for a desktop can still be found, and it’s a great way to display your flags. If you want to display a large American flag vertically on a wall, remember the field of stars is always on the flag’s right. I love to see the flag displayed this way; it really becomes a great focal point.

Old calendars and books found at flea markets are also a great source of vintage Americana pictures featuring an assortment of star and stripes. Magazines found in about any era showing summer celebrations can cover a wall or create a big collage of photos and articles, adding bits of red, white and blue. If you have some old family photos, why not go through them to find pictures of previous generations Fourth of July picnics or parades, and add those to your collage. Cut out stars from old book pages, stringing them together into a garland to drape on your wall or across the window.

Fabric is another way to bring in the color of the season. Look for fabric at flea markets — there is always fabric! You can always find old blue and white striped mattress ticking, add some red checked or printed material and fold these into a stack on a shelf. Parade bunting, lengths of fabric in bands of red white and blue, sometimes with stars, can also be found. Bunting gathered into half circles often used to hang under windows or on porch railings. You might even have an old quilt to display. The idea is to add color but not to spend a fortune.

Go in search of vintage items with stars and stripes, they will appear in endless forms. I have a beaded flag change purse from years ago and recently found some cute bangle bracelets in stars and stripes! It might even be fun to research things from the 1976 Bicentennial for some ideas; there were celebrations all across the country and all kinds of items made as keepsakes.

Star-shaped items are another thing to look for. Ages ago I found a stone cut into a star for my garden but it’s fun to bring it indoors to decorate with. I have seen metal “yard art” in the form of garden stakes with stars on top. These are fun to add to the mix. Star cookie cutters are easily found in all sizes, group them on an old platter or along your windowsill and why not use them to bake up a plate of star shaped cookies.

Have fun this summer — show a little red, white and blue along with some stars and stripes. Have a celebration, march in a parade, take photos that the next generation will look back on and have them searching for the same things for their summer celebrations.


About Maggie: I live a short distance east of Kansas City in the wonderful small river town of Lexington. My hubby and I moved here in 2003, bought an 1841/45 house in one of the historic districts. I have gathered fun pieces to furnish my house, some antiques some fun vintage (primitive) pieces. I have a studio/shop on Main St. called The Purple Turnip where I design and sometimes teach rug hooking as well as wool applique and whatever else that strikes my fancy, recently it was paper daffodils since I did not plant any last fall.This time of year I am always looking for something that speaks spring to me. Gathering up my favorite garden related items is a quick way to feel I have a little potting shed and that I’m ready for spring, since I do not have a regular garden I “garden” in pots and urns and other containers. Nature continues to bring me inspiration, as long as I have a bit of soil and a few pots to plant in I’m pretty happy, well, I do still need some old textiles and a bit of wool but otherwise I pretty easy. See if some of the suggestions work for you or at least inspire you and give you that jump on spring that is usually needed this time of year. Enjoy! Life is good.