Saturday, July 04, 2020

Saturday 9: You're A Grand Old Flag


Unfamiliar with James Cagney's 1942 version of this song? Hear it here.

1) The flag we currently fly, with 50 stars and 13 stripes, was designed by a high school student. When Alaska and Hawaii were added, President Eisenhower invited Americans to submit designs for how best to incorporate the two new states. Ike chose 17-year-old Robert G. Heft's submission from more than 1500 entries. Tell us about a contest you entered and won. (Or really hoped to win.)

A.  I won the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Writing Contest once, and placed second in it another time. The contest was for short stories in the style of Sherwood Anderson, a writer known for some odd works. His most famous book was Winesburg, Ohio. He died near Marion, VA, and the library there sponsored the contest. I don't think they have it anymore.

2) The government also has another of Mr. Heft's designs waiting: one that incorporates a 51st star if another state is added. When you were in school, did you memorize the states and their capitals?

A. Probably, but I don't recall them all now.

3) Six American flags have been planted on the surface of the moon. Those are undoubtedly the flags farthest from you this morning. Where is an American flag flying near you today?

A. I would guess at the county courthouse, one of the cemeteries, or the VFW post.

4) This version of the song was performed by James Cagney in the 1942 classic, Yankee Doodle Dandy. Have you ever seen it?

A. No.

5) In that film, Cagney portrayed George M. Cohan, the composer of this week's song. In 1940, Cohan was honored by with a Congressional Gold Medal. In presenting him with the award, President Roosevelt specifically thanked Cohan for "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and "Over There." What's your favorite patriotic song?

A. America the Beautiful or This Land is Your Land.

6) Though a performer his entire life, Cohan disliked listening to recordings of his own voice. How about you? Do you like your singing and/or speaking voice?

A. I sing ok but I speak and sing with a nice southwestern VA twang, I'm afraid. I don't like my speaking voice at all.

7) James Cagney won the Oscar for Best Actor his performance as George M. Cohan. Also nominated that year was Gary Cooper, who portrayed Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Tell us about another movie about a great American.

A. I don't watch a lot of movies. The only thing I can think of is the John Adams series that was on HBO some time ago.

8) As a teen, Cagney juggled high school with a variety of jobs, including bell hop and delivery boy, and gave all his earnings to his family. Looking back, Cagney was grateful that he had to begin work early, saying, "I feel sorry for the kid who has too cushy a time of it. Suddenly he has to come face-to-face with the realities of life without his mama and papa to do his thinking for him." Do you agree? 

A. To a degree, yes. I know some kids who've had too cushy a time of it and have found the real world to be a challenge.

9) Cagney had a rebellious streak. His boss, studio head Jack Warner, nicknamed Cagney, "The Professional Againster." Cagney joked that he enjoyed earning the title. What about you? Are you rebellious?

A. I don't think so, but others do not share that opinion. Every time I went to report on the supervisors' meetings, someone invariably said, "Here comes Trouble." I know my parents thought I was rebellious.

I encourage you to visit other participants in Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however.


  1. Congratulations on your short story win! That is awesome, but not surprising. Loved your answers! Have a great 4th of July!

  2. I don't want to forget to compliment your beautiful flower photos in your header!

    I picked the same songs.

  3. I never think of "This Land Is Your Land" as a patriotic song. I think of it as a Girl Scout song. And that's dopey and unimaginative of me.

  4. My husband would agree with you if you asked him if I had a rebellious spirit! It comes out when needed. This Land is Your Land is a good one too. We sang it in school, Girl Scouts and youth group at church. Happy 4th Anita!

  5. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? Wonder if winning this recognition had anything to do it. Hope you have a great Independence Day.

  6. That John Adams series was terrific.

  7. You may not have won a cruise, but at last you know you earned your win. Unlike me.


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