ATLANTIC, Iowa — When they asked Bob Boots to empty the United States Flag drop box, he didn’t know what was getting started. The town has a box, similar to a postal drop box, where people can leave old flags. Boots noticed many of the flags given up as worn out, could be easily repaired and put back into service.
“So I started picking him up and keeping track of the number of them, and I brought the sewing machine down here that I had, so I go through all of them,” said Boots. “The ones that are repairable I repair them.”
That was in 2004. He’s written down every flag he has handled since then. It’s right around 11,399. Some flags are flown again in front of the Atlantic Memorial Building, also known as the Armory.
“Usually the hem on the bottom is frayed out, and a lot of times you can give that a lot of extra rolls and re-sew that,” said Boots. “There is more work than I probably ever get done on them, I don’t know who’s going to take it over after I get done.”
Boots knows how to sew flags from his years running an upholstery shop in town. He started his business after serving three years in the US Coast Guard, back in the 1950’s. The veteran flag repairman turned 88 at his last birthday.
“I see some flags flying around, different people have a different thought on that,” said Boots. “Some of them just a little damage on it they come in here, some of them are just absolutely shattered and there might be no color left in them.”
The US Flag Dropbox, is located in front of the Armory, American Legion Memorial Building at 201 Poplar Street in Atlantic. To learn more about this work check with the historic group ARISE, in Altantic.