Charlotte Austin’s time was consumed by two things from January to March 1980: stars and stripes.
An employee of Anchor Industries Inc. in Evansville, Austin was one of the workers tasked with sewing together the Great American Flag — a mammoth U.S. flag measuring 411 feet by 210 feet. The massive endeavor, initiated by Len Silverfine, owner of marketing and sales company The Big Idea Co., resulted in the creation of a national wonder.
Initially laid out on the Dress Memorial Airport (now Evansville Regional Airport) tarmac, this impressive flag also has been on display at the base of the Washington Monument (Flag Day 1980), in Central Park (June 18, 1981), near the site of the Pennsylvania plane crash on Sept. 11, 2001 (Sept. 2001), and in various other places across the country for special ceremonies. The flag now is owned by Pennsylvania resident Ted Dorfman, who purchased it for $12,500 via eBay auction on July 4, 2001.
More than 30 years after working on the flag, Austin still remembers its impact on the employees of Anchor Industries. Most of the company’s 250 employees wanted to help create the flag, she says, but only a handful of workers could tend to it at one time.
At the time, American hostages were being held in Iran. During the turmoil, Austin says the task of sewing the flag brought the workers together.
“It meant a lot to everyone,” she says.