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Merrimack Valley

January 9, 2013

Stitching the Stars and Stripes

Senior Center volunteers give over-sized Old Glory some TLC

METHUEN — Josephine Carelli was greeted with a sight fit for the Fourth of July as she arrived to set up her weekly domino game at the Senior Center auditorium.

“Oh my lord!” said Carelli. “I’ve never seen a flag so big in all my life.”

A 20-by-30-foot American flag was stretched across the auditorium dance floor yesterday in preparation for much-needed repairs, its edges frayed and top corner torn after once flying high above Commonwealth Motors in Lawrence.

Volunteers Cheryl Sirois and Joyce Desrosiers will stitch the over-sized Old Glory back into shape today. The stars and stripes will then be folded next Wednesday and returned to Commonwealth Motors owner Charlie Daher.

“It’s pretty impressive,” said Senior Center Director Corinne LaCharite. “He’s got two very talented ladies working on it.”

Sirois, of Methuen, and Desrosiers, of Haverhill, will trim and hem the tattered edges. The top red stripe also needs to be replaced.

“We’re trying to salvage as much as we can,” said Sirois. “In some places it was frayed badly. We want it to be as good as new.”

Sirois said she was sought out by Daher to perform the repairs. In the early 1980s, she stitched up an even larger flag for another area car dealership. Sirois said that flag was so big several men had to carry it to her car.

“The stars went from my living room to my bedroom,” said Sirois. “I couldn’t unfold it.”

Sirois said she jumped at the chance to work on another flag.

“I liked the idea the first time and I like it even more now,” said Sirois. “I’m an apple pie American. I like fixing the flag.”

Seniors and students at Methuen High School will fold the flag together next week as part of the school’s “Adopt a Grandparent Program.”

For Desrosiers, who teaches quilting at the Senior Center, the flag represents a new challenge. Before this the largest project she’s ever undertaken was a king-sized blanket.

“This is very unique,” said Desrosiers, between taking measurements of the flag with a pencil and yard stick. “It’s neat that I was asked to help out with this. For me, as a quilting teacher, it shows me different problems.”

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