Wrapped in the Flag, Cape Cod 1947

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photo

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photo

Usually when you hear the phrase “wrapped in the flag,” it is a metaphor for extreme patriotism. This woman took it literally. The great French photographer Henri Cartier Bresson had this to say about his photo: “This woman explained to me that the flagpole over her door was broken but ‘on such a day as this, one keeps one’s flag on one’s heart.’ I felt in her a touch of the strength and robustness of the early American pioneers.”

Perhaps he was reminded of early pioneers in part because her dress had nothing in common with the clothes of 1947. It doesn’t fit her and the style is eclectic, with its very wide collar and short puffed sleeves. Was it a hand me down? A second hand find? Or more intriguing, did she make it herself with style elements from clothes she had loved during her long life?

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2 Responses to Wrapped in the Flag, Cape Cod 1947

  1. Carol in Denver says:

    She reminds me of my great grandmother, a tiny, wizened woman when I knew her. She wore layers of cotton dresses, one over the other, and in sizes too large for her. The dresses were possibly hand-me-downs from her daughters, who were women of fairly substantial size.

    The woman above let down the hem of her dress, and her shoes look to be early 1900s to me, although I bow to your knowledge in this area.

    To be old, and spirited, and have opinions, and state those opinions, and have loyalties and values, your woman shows these characteristics in the photo. Maybe a role model for those of us not quite as old as she.

  2. Lizzie says:

    That is an odd outfit, to be sure! It is almost like a WWI era work dress, and the shoes could be of that era as well.

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