It was serendipity, former Mayor Alan Jepson said, that led to the discovery of the original Milford flag just as the city is celebrating its 375th anniversary.
The story of the Milford flag, which can be seen hanging alongside the American flag on many city flagpoles, goes like this:
Fifty years ago the city was celebrating its 325th anniversary. Then-Mayor Jepson called then-School Supt. Joseph Foran and said he thought the city should have its own flag and asked Foran if he would like to get the schools involved.
The two teamed up for a design contest, and eventually a submission created by Karen Saloomey, a 16-year-old student at the time, was chosen. Saloomey actually went on afterwards to become a well-known New York designer who designed the U.S. Olympics parade uniforms worn in Grenoble, France.
Her flag design was reproduced into 25 flags at first, and by now hundreds if not more have been made and are hanging in various places in the city.
About a month or two ago, a woman who helped Saloomey stitch that very first Milford flag, which Jepson calls “the Betsy Ross version,” called the city clerk’s office asking if anyone knew where the original was.
No one did. They looked. Jepson thought it had long been safely tucked into a drawer in a vault below his old office in the Parsons Complex, but it wasn’t there.
Several days later, Mayor Ben Blake and Thomas Flowers, chairman of the Veterans, Ceremony and Parade Commission, were sorting a collection of museum items in the Fowler Memorial building when the mayor opened a drawer of an old metal file cabinet.
“It was pretty much empty, except for some old paper cups,” Blake said.
But also in there was a cardboard flag box with the words, “original city flag” handwritten on it.
“It seems likes it’s in fabulous condition for 50 years old,” Blake said.
The original flag will now be framed and hung in City Hall, or wherever the 375th Anniversary Committee believes it should be displayed.
“I think it’s wonderful they found it,” Jepson said.
Robert Gregory, chairman of the 375th Anniversary Committee, said Saloomey, the creator of the flag, and her sister live in Milford.