Marie Clemens' 1960 flag design has Tell City's colors flying proudly

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By Vince Luecke

The winning designer of a 1960 contest to design Tell City's flag, Marie Clemens' original sketch for the city's official colors doesn't exactly look like the flags fluttering en masse over Tell City this week.

The final design chosen by a committee appointed by the historical society left out Clemens' Swiss flag-like white crosses and a torch she thought would represent Indiana.

"They had quite a few entries but they chose mine," Clemens said. "I guess they thought my design had a bit too much on it so they removed the crosses and torch and kept the rest," she said Friday while standing underneath modern reproductions of the city's flag.

Her basic design of a red apple tipped by a green leaf and pierced by a yellow arrow became the official flag and included the name of the city and its year of founding, 1858.

Tell City is celebrating its sesquicentennial this week and flags are flying across the community, adding a colorful flourish to the festival. As of Friday, some were flying over buildings. Other businesses were hoisting theirs near doorways or in windows. Ryan Oberhausen, co-chairman of the sesquicentennial committee and Clemens' great-nephew, said at least 80 flags have been sold to businesses along the route of Saturday's parade.

No one is sure how many of the original hand-sewn flags were made in 1960. One was placed in City Hall, where it has graced the City Council Chambers. Another was given to officials in the Swiss village of Altdorf, Tell City's sister city, by residents on a tour of Europe.

Forty-eight years after her image was chosen as the city's official flag, Clemens is pleased to see them flying in such numbers.

"I think it's great to see all the celebrating and pride in our city," she said while standing in front of Schaefer & Paulin auto parts store at Main and Washington streets. Near the starting line of Saturday's parade, the business was among the city's best-dressed, with city flags and bunting on its exterior.

Flags can be purchased this week at a sesquicentennial store in City Hall Park or at Tassels, Hallmark, Gatherings, Celebrations, William Tell Antiques and the chamber of commerce.