A banner moment in South County life

Using symbols of rural heritage, a Deale woman wins flag contest

March 29, 2006|By JAMIE STIEHM | JAMIE STIEHM,SUN REPORTER

The winner of a South Anne Arundel County flag contest remembers being awe-struck at her first view of the Chesapeake Bay when she was a young woman taking a freighter trip from San Francisco to Baltimore. Then and there, she fell in love with its majestic looks.

"It was a three-week trip on a working freighter and up on the bridge I saw the bay at night," Nancy Lee Young of Deale recalled. "I was absolutely hooked on the Chesapeake Bay from 1953 on."

Young's simple design for a flag depicting South County life was recently named the winner in a competition held by the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society. Her flag will be first flown at a 7 p.m. dedication at the historic Captain Salem Avery House Museum on June 16, society officials said.

The contest - an unofficial one, with no ties to county government - came without a prize except the satisfaction of knowing that she had visually summed up the place she has lived in most of her life. She created her vision cutting colored paper with manicure scissors.

"I'm the Betsy Ross of South County," Young, 76, said with a laugh, "responding to a wonderful challenge."

Choosing to work with symbols only, using no lettering, Young said she drew on past career work in maps and graphics for the federal government.

"There are four rectangles, two white and two marine blue - colors you find all over the bay," she said. "There's a recognizable symbol in each: an oyster boat, a crab, a blue heron and a tobacco barn."

Mavis Daly, the society's spokeswoman, said the local flag will fly alongside a Maryland state flag and a U.S. flag on a new flagpole, which will be dedicated to the nonprofit's late founder and president, Barbara Owings of Shady Side.

The society, which collects and preserves records of the Chesapeake Bay's maritime character and history, received about 20 entries in the flag contest.

"All the judges felt strongly this design was the desirable winner," Daly said.

Young, who lives by the water in Deale, said she tried to capture nostalgia for a way of life which at times seems to be passing fast.

"The old tobacco barn of yesterday in a full moon represents agricultural interests," the artist said. "Today there is still open water, wildlife and a feeling of the rural South."

Young added, "It's a nice thought that after I leave the planet, I will go on flapping."

Second place in the contest went to Sue Dipple of Lothian and third place to Clara Gouin of Deale, Daly said.

Bobby Owings, 73, said the new flag and flagpole is a fitting way to honor the memory of his late wife. The countrified county, where the couple lived in a village house that his family has owned since the 1840s, is a place she cherished for about half a century - much like Young.

"Everybody knew each other in Galesville, Shady Side, Deale and Tracy's Landing," Owings said.

jamie.stiehm@baltsun.com

For more information on the June 16 dedication ceremony, call 301-261-5234. The fee is $10 for nonmembers of the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society.

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