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Over the past few years I’ve pared down my belongings considerably; everything I own will neatly fit inside my vehicle. My rule is: if I don’t really need it or if I haven’t used it in about six months, it needs to go. This cuts down on clutter and makes running from the law easier. I forget a lot of things so this also helps me not have more junk to worry about losing. A very few things, however, I hang onto in defiance of my better (?) judgement.

For instance, there is my beautiful bicentennial wall rug, that until today I had once again forgotten I possessed.

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I’ve had her for almost forty years. Only twice, for short periods of time, have I properly displayed this unique work of art. Most of its life has been spent rolled up in a closet. I do not need this item and I have not used it for years. Still, I absolutely love it.

Ain’t she cool. A bald eagle carrying the Liberty Bell pass “Old Glory”. I’ve seen very few physical objects that scream “America!” like this. I don’t just “America,” as used in everyday parlance; I mean A-MER-I-CA!!!!! as in Johnny Horton’s Johnny Freedom. Even the label on the back has a fascinating tidbit of history. This beauty IS history.

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As with most pieces of my life, this one comes with a good story. I have no idea how I remember it but I do, almost vividly. When I was about two years old my parents took me to the Ethan Allen furniture store in Columbus, Mississippi. This was just after a big flood. They were trying to get rid of everything through sales and giveaways. One item up for raffle was my flag-rug. My dad was holding me and I got to reach into a hat full of pieces of paper with names on them. I pulled out “Lovett”. The rug was mine. I was so excited.

Oddly, I get the same feeling whenever I look at her. I got it this afternoon. There’s something so patriotic in this work; it stirs the soul. The cynic in me could say it reads like the tombstone of the old republic – 1776 – 1976. But I’ve never thought that. I see powerful imagery of what was and what could be again. A nation to be proud of. Of proud people. Strong people. Defiant freedom, as clear as a bell and swift as an eagle.

I’ve only seen one other of these rugs. It hung on the wall at my old barber’s shop until he retired. He and I had a lot in common, rugs aside. I sometimes feel like a visitor a few years too late – a time-traveling, freedom-seeking tourist in the wrong town or on the wrong day. He was the real thing, a holdover from the old America. The only other living man I knew (besides my father) with a real connection to Grit and Steel.

There are a lot of memories in this woven acrylic masterpiece stored away in the closet. One day she will grace the wall of my study, in the little cabin, high in the mountains, far away. Until then, she’ll just have to remain one of my legends.

 

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*The gag “ad(s)” above this line are endorsed by Perrin Lovett; those below are not.

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