Thursday, June 16, 2011

Return of the Betsy Ross Cats


I'm sure you've heard the story of Betsy Ross and how she sewed the first American flag.  Betsy Ross didn't have the easiest life, by the way.  She was disowned by the Quakers.  Her first husband died in an explosion at the munitions depot he was guarding, her second died in a British prison, and her third was sick for many years. She had seven daughters, two of whom died in infancy.  Throughout it all, she maintained a struggling upholstery business.  What choice did she have?


One day, in May of 1776, three members of a secret committee from the Continental Congress appeared on her doorstep:  George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross.  She was already acquainted with Washington, who sat in the pew beside hers in church.   In fact, she had done some sewing work for him in the past.  And she knew Ross because she had married his nephew, who was now deceased.


Washington showed Betsy Ross a rough design for the flag they had in mind, which included a six pointed star.  Betsy, who was no slouch with a pair of scissors, showed the men how to cut out a star.  They were impressed enough to entrust her with making the first US flag.

What you probably didn't  know was that Betsy had help.  Feline help.

Sewing a flag by hand is a lot of work.  If you don't believe me, try cutting out a five-pointed star and sewing a star onto your jeans.  Just one.  Go ahead.  Try.  See what I mean?


And Betsy didn't have much time.  She was on a serious deadline.

That's when the Betsy Ross cats stepped in to help.


Each night while Betsy slept, the cats worked.  (You wondered what cats did during the night, didn't you?  It's not all mice and lizards, apparently.)  Using their claws, they made all the itty bitty holes Betsy needed for sewing.

They made puncture holes in the stars and the stripes, and the field of blue where the stars would be placed.  


When Betsy needed to sketch out part of the flag, she used their fallen whiskers to make a brush.  (Cat whiskers, by the way, make superb paint brushes, but it's best to check with your cat first.)

Some of the kitties even gave whiskers to be used for the actual stitching.  And with the cats' help, Betsy completed the flag on time.  In the picture, you can see George Washington eyeing a tuft of cat hair on the flag.  Betsy pretended that she had no idea how it got there.


The cats later crossed the ocean to assist in making the post French revolution flag.  They and their ancestors have been instrumental in making flags for many other countries, including Cambodia, Costa Rica, Australia, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Laos, Luxembourg, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Panama, Russia, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Thailand, and even Britain's Union Jack.  (But don't tell Betsy.)

They are commemorated here ~ the unsung (or unmeowed) heroes and heroines behind the flag.

1 comment:

  1. This is too cute for words! As a fan of Betsy and of creative felines.....this is a must! Love the red, white and blue stars with the kitty. Thanks