News Columns & Blogs

Our 'Betsy Ross': She made historic moon flag

MANATEE

Dolores Black isn’t busy sewing much anymore, but she still loves it.

“Got to keep those fingers going,” said the 82-year-old great-grandmother.

They played a part in one of history’s epochal moments.

The wall behind her is a monument to the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.

It includes the iconic photo of astronaut Neil Armstrong with the U.S. flag planted on the Sea of Tranquility.

Dolores Black, then a Milwaukee seamstress, made that flag.

“A lot of people still don’t think somebody made it,” she said. “They think they just bought it in a store.”

Black, a Bradenton resident for 32 years, is being honored by an art exhibit at Manatee Community College, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

The exhibit runs Thursday through June 18, and Aug. 20 through Sept. 24.

“Hers was a quiet role, but a significant role, and that’s something we’re celebrating,” said Joe Loccisano, MCC’s art gallery manager.

Black worked for the Eder Flag Manufacturing Co. in Oak Creek, Wis., when she was given this extraordinary task by owner Eugene Eder.

“I felt like the second Betsy Ross,” she said.

Black usually took three hours to make a flag.

She was given two weeks for this one.

It was made of double-faced nylon with embroidered stars and a lining for reinforcement.

“I put my heart and soul into it,” she said. “When I was putting on the finishing touches ... (I wrote) my name on the inside and sewed the seam together. It was my little secret.”

So secret Black didn’t tell her family about the special project.

“Mom never told us until years later, but I think it’s fantastic,” said daughter Audrey Sakezles, 59. “I’m proud of her.”

So is daughter Angeline Graser, 61. Whether the flag is still standing — NASA suspects it was blown down by the lunar module liftoff — doesn’t matter.

“Even now when I look up at the moon, I think of it,” Graser said.

That goes for their mother, too.

“I get the goosebumps every time I think of it,” Black said. “When it’s a full moon I’m out there just staring at it.”

  Comments