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Brooklyn, Iowa

posted Jul 22, 2012, 8:11 AM by Steven Vaughan
Billing itself as “Brooklyn: Community of Flags”, this classic rural small town has a population of 1,468; containing 615 households located within 1.24 miles.  (Isn't that about the size of our parish?)  But unlike other farm communities, this one has Ireland’s flag hanging outside the Brooklyn Chronicle; the Union Jack flying in front of Osborne Real Estate and Insurance; and a green and red flag with a shield in the center I couldn’t identify gracing the Front Street Tap.  Italy, France, Germany and Australia are there too, among some more esoteric flags, all leading up to a monstrous 20'-x-38' U.S. flag atop an 80' pole, flanked by flags from all 50 states, and all flying next to the volunteer fire department.

This civic boosterism is an attempt to wave curiosity-seekers like myself (or Bob Snow who recommended it to me) to pull off I-80 to see whether it bears any resemblance to our famous city back east.  It doesn’t.  Its tallest building is a grain elevator!  However, it does have a shop selling flags and memorabilia, next door to The Classic Deli, which serves delicious homemade food, especially their potato salad, cold baked beans and rhubarb pie!  (Check out The Classic Deli on Facebook!)

When the bridge over Big Bear Creek needed replacing, the town tried to sell its “Brooklyn Bridge” on eBay.  Some woman offered $50,000 for it, but no one could figure out how to ship it to her, so it had to be torn down instead. 

The flags are no gimmick, though, and the people seem truly proud to fly them.  Virtually everyone you meet is related to either a Manatt or a Kriegal.  The Manatt family, the area's biggest employer, made its fortune in cement and their original Victorian home on Jackson Street is now the Brooklyn Museum.  But the Kriegal's have an equally interesting claim to fame.  In 1916, 8-year-old Balzer Kriegel accused another local boy, Marion Morrison, of having a “girly” name.  A fist fight ensued, though today no one recalls for sure who threw the first punch or who won.  But one fact is certain, when Marion moved to Hollywood; he changed his name to the tougher-sounding “John Wayne!”
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