Tribute to man behind 'Flags on Main Street'
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Jun. 16, 2011
On Flag Day, June 14, the Glastonbury Senior Center decided it was fitting to pay tribute to a different kind of local patriot.
Senior Center Director Maryleah Skoronski said the special remembrance of Fritz Woloszczuk that day was held because he was “unconventional,” but Woloszczuk was responsible - along with a group of cohorts - for the “Flags on Main Street,” which adorn the utility poles near the center of town.
One of his “accomplices,” former Glastonbury Town Council member Barbara Wagner, said she was thrilled that several members of Woloszczuk's family were able to attend the luncheon.
“I first got to know Fritz when I got on the town council, after the two referendums for the new senior center had failed,” Wagner said. “It was a time when we were trying to put together plans for this [Riverfront] Community Center. Fritz was the president of the Friends of the Seniors. He got me involved and we put together a committee to get it approved. It was a tough decision, because the seniors were letting go of their dream for their own [dedicated] senior center.”
Wagner said Woloszczuk was instrumental in bringing the community together on the new plan, and after the center was approved, he switched his focus to the flags on Main Street.
Woloszczuk asked Wagner to find out if it would be possible to hang flags along Main Street, and was told no several times by the town and the utility companies.
“There were all kinds of reasons why we couldn't have flags on Main Street,” Wagner said. “I gave Fritz the news, and of course he was not happy with it, but I thought that was the end of it.”
Wagner said Woloszczuk persisted in asking Wagner to find a more definitive answer, but none satisfied him. So, she resorted to suggesting that the two of them would have to place the flags themselves, counting on the probability that Woloszczuk would reject that idea.
“There was no way Fritz would break a rule and do something he was told specifically he couldn't do,” Wagner said. “I thought I was pretty safe in making the suggestion. But, he very quickly bought into it.”
Woloszczuk hatched the plan, and kept it covert, except that he insisted on fine flags, and asked for them through U.S. Rep. John Larson's office.
On the eve of Memorial Day 2007, the two went out at night to attach the flags, recruiting yet another conspirator, former Democratic Town Committee Chair John Davis, to perform the duty of actually scaling the poles and attaching the appropriate brackets. Some of Woloszczuk's family members also helped.
“We made an outing of it,” Wagner said. “We brought a ladder. I have pictures. We went around and hung the flags... from the fountain to Town Hall. We were just so proud of ourselves. We had pulled it off.”
Wagner said the group of rebels celebrated by going out for ice cream, and decided there that Woloszczuk would take the credit and responsibility for the venture.
“We knew they wouldn't put an 80-year-old man in prison,” she said.
“I told him it would be less than a week and we’d get him out,” Davis added.
Davis said when he was called by Wagner to take part in Woloszczuk's plan, he at first did not understand, since the Veterans Commission had already appeared before the town council and was unable to clear the flag-posting.
“I told him also that if I was going to get water-boarded, I would give him up in a heartbeat,” Davis said.
Davis also recalled how Woloszczuk had a “flag factory” set up in his living room, where the hardware was attached to make the hanging possible.
“It was a nice, nice thing for him to do,” Davis said. “It was nice for me to be involved, with Barbara and with Fritz. The flags just magically appeared that morning.”
Davis said the police and town radios were abuzz with the news of the flags, and when he was questioned by his father, he told him that he was involved, and the news would be out soon.
“Fritz had the intuition and the ability to say, ‘Let's do it,’ and it was a wonderful thing,” Davis said.
Woloszczuk passed away in August 2010, but will be remembered for his “patriotic prank.”
“He was just a special senior from way back when,” said Skoronski, recalling Woloszczuk's presence at the senior center. “When he had something he believed in, he just never gave up.”