As I drove east on Main Street in Springfield today, I could see an enormous flag waving high in the air. I was in complete awe of this thing. One could not help but feel the patriotism that came from it and the pride it’s owner must feel.
I pulled over to take photographs and see if I could speak with someone regarding the flag. Immediately Tony Koloski, a mechanic from the shop approached me to see if he could help me. I asked if I could speak with someone regarding this flag.
He said Jim Dobson the owner is who I would need to talk to, but he was with a customer at the moment. While I waited for Jim to finish with his clients, I took some photographs; Tony giving me a brief summary of the flag.
Once Jim was finished with his clients, we sat and talked about the flag.
It has been a permanent fixture in Springfield, Oregon since December 22, 1999. The flag alone is 40 feet by 80 feet, the stripes are just over 31 inches tall and the stars must be approximately 2 feet each!
As we talked about the flag, Jim sketched out a drawing for me; showing me how the flag pole was constructed and then erected. His friend Dave Fountain donated the old logging towers and light pole.
“Why did you go so big”? I asked him.
“In the City of Springfield, you could hang two banners a year, each one of them cost $60.00 just in permit fees and you could only hang them for 10 days. So, I came up with this idea! I also lined the perimeter of my shop with flags every ten feet. I knew they wouldn’t tell me I had to take my flags down”. He said with a chuckle.
As Jim continued to sketch, he explained that in order to do something like that today, it would cost 40 thousand dollars. His flag, the one that is flying out side of his shop right now costs $3,000.00. According to his research, he has found only three others in the United States bigger than his, located in Texas, New Jersey and Southern California.
He has two more flags, a bit smaller; one at 20 x 30 and 30 x 50 feet.
In remembrance of his mother, he flies the flag at half staff in her honor, as well as other family and friends.
The upkeep of such a flag can be pretty big. Once the flag is taken down, it will go directly to Designers Workroom located in Eugene for repairs; Linda has been taking care of Jim’s flags since the beginning. The flags whips pretty hard sometimes in the wind, causing them to tear.
“Often times, it will crack like a bull whip”.
It was not a small feat to erect such a pole. The entire structure above ground is 125 feet tall (12 1/2 stories). There is also another 16 foot logging tower encased in 40 cubic yards of concrete below ground!
“On a good day, with no wind it may take 5 men and 15 minutes to raise the flag, if it is windy, it may take 10 people. But if the wind is blowing particulary hard, we can’t raise it”.
Jim’s flag was used as a backdrop when President Bush was running for his second term and was campaigning in Medford, as well as when Dick Cheney came to Eugene.
Jim is a veteran and served in the Marine Corp. in Vietnam. Jim is also an accomplished pilot. A very warm, friendly and patriotic man. I enjoyed my time talking with him and if it wasn’t for his business to run, I could have sat with him and his guys all day.
There is a lot of history in that shop. He told me about putting a “free house” sign up 40 years ago. Someone came and hauled off the house that sat on that lot. Once the house was gone, he was then able build his shop.
Cascade Auto is located at 3842 Main Street on the corner of 38th Place and Main street in Springfield.