This photograph from the 1970s shows Dick White and Phyllis Clemenz holding a flag that appears to be moments away from hoisting. We think the image is from the 1970s; the Bicentennial Year of 1976, more precisely. However, Phyllis Clemenz is wearing a winter coat and gloves. When asked about the flag, Dick White said he was quite sure it had been donated to commemorate our country’s 200th anniversary, even though the flag design of 13 stars representing the 13 colonies doesn’t look like the flag we associate with the one agreed on by Betsy Ross and George Washington.
In fact, George Washington preferred a flag design that included stars that were 6-pointed, not 5-pointed, but beyond that, the history of our country’s original flag design is hazy. Indications seem to point to Betsy Ross not having created America’s first flag at all. The story lingers on, however, because it has a wonderful romance to it and also, perhaps, because Betsy Ross’s house is on the Tourist Trail in Philadelphia.
When asked if she remembered anything about her mother’s involvement with this particular flag ceremony, Annie Clemenz did not. However, Phyllis Clemenz, who died in 2018, was a member of many of Montauk’s civic organizations. She taught her daughters that it was a responsibility to give back to the community: “the only way bad can exist is for good people to do nothing.” Born and bred in New York City, Phyllis Clemenz was engaged to a doctor and on vacation in Montauk during July 4th weekend, when Harry Clemenz approached her in a restaurant that is now the Sloppy Tuna. She fell in love with Harry and with Montauk, and three months later they were married.