Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

This week, we’re going to take a look back to to a 2018 interview we did with Charles Foley. He’s the founder of the organization Flags for the Flagless, what led him to launch this effort and why is he so passionate about filling up empty flagpoles.

Today is May 30th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org– we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

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Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Bryce Winston, “Time To Spare.” We’re going to start today’s show with news from 1956.

Bringing Flags to the Flagless

Our feature today is also about flags, and it’s about an organization called Flags for the Flagless, and we’re going to look back to 2018. We did an interview with a Tucson Police Officer named Charles Foley, who founded the organization Flags for the Flagless.

We wanted to find out back then really what led him to do this and at the time we were in downtown having a celebration of Flag Day which is coming up here shortly in June. Flags for the Flagless had donated a bunch of flags to the effort. I think they’re like 30 of them flying in downtown. So we caught up with Charles back in 2018 and thought it was appropriate to share that interview with you today in honor of the Memorial Day weekend.

Transcript

Tom Heath
Good morning. It’s a beautiful sunny in the Old Pueblo and you’re listening to KTDT Tucson. Want to thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored Rock and Roll radio station.

Tom Heath
This week, we’re going to take a look back to to a 2018 interview we did with Charles Foley. He’s the founder of the organization Flags for the Flagless, what led him to launch this effort and why is he so passionate about filling up empty flagpoles.

Tom Heath
Today, is May 30th. It’s a Memorial Day show. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar. Tach and every Sunday, our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A mountain to UArizona and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on Downtown Radio dot org and available on your iPhone or Android with our very own Downtown Radio Tucson app.

Tom Heath
If you want to listen to past episodes, you can find them all housed on our website Life along the streetcar dot-org. We have a contact box on there if you want to get ahold of us, you’ll also find us on Facebook and our podcast is really anywhere that you would find such media, including by asking your smart speaker to play Life along the streetcar podcast.

Tom Heath
And we’re going to start Today’s Show with news from 1956. This was a story in May 29th, 1956 regarding Memorial Day, it was in the Tucson Daily Citizen Evening Edition and you may know this about me, but I like to read through old newspapers and get a sense of what Tucson was going through in different parts of our history and found this interest this article very appropriate for today’s show.

Tom Heath
Started with a nice explanation of Memorial Day it. And I’m quoting now from the Tucson Daily Citizen here. “Memorial Day, long observed, as decoration day was originally set aside by General John A Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic for quote, the purposes of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country and whose bodies lie in almost every city Village and hamlet churchyard in the land”. Now, set aside to honor originally the Civil War dead Memorial Day now memorializes. The nation’s debt in all wars.

Tom Heath
And the reason I like this article not just for the great explanation because it asks if you’ve got your flag ready for flying and if you don’t it says you can pick them up for as little as three cents and as much as $1 at the Rule Flag Company and you can also find them at Jacome’s department store. . So if you’re out and about in downtown swing by ha kameez or Woolworths and pick up your flag for Memorial Day,

Tom Heath
And it was fitting because our feature today is also about flags, and it’s about an organization called Flags for the Flagless, and we’re going to look back to 2018. We did an interview with a Tucson Police Officer named Charles Foley, who founded the organization Flags for the Flagless.

Tom Heath
We wanted to find out back then really what led him to do this and at the time we were in downtown having a celebration of Flag Day which is coming up here shortly in June. Flags for the Flagless had donated a bunch of flags to the effort. I think they’re like 30 of them flying in downtown. So we caught up with Charles back in 2018 and thought it was appropriate to share that interview with you today in honor of the Memorial Day weekend.

Charles Foley
Charlie Foley, I was raised in San Diego, California. I come from a long history of military personnel. My father served in the Korean War and the Marine Corps. He had a brother that also served in the South Pacific, in the Marine Corps. I’m a graduate of the University of Arizona 1991 did a couple of jobs after college, but came back to Tucson and 1995, was married was some local businesses restaurant business, but it come also from a long history of law enforcement.

Charles Foley
To this day, I still have family that are cops. If you will in California I have a cousin of retired as a lieutenant because of his a sergeant in the San Franciscoarea and I have always thought about being a cop and I tested in 2001 and I became a cop. So for 17 and a half years, I’ve been a police officer for the City of Tucson and met a guy. About three or four years ago. Played professional sports. He’s a professional football player. He had retired and I said, Donnie, Donnie Edwards is so, what do you do now, right?

Charles Foley
You’re the guy who’s made millions of dollars over the years. He says, you know, I take that veterans back to where they fought their battles. I thought it was an honor flight thing. I was so naive at the time so you’re taking it back to DC to see the memorials know I take these guys back to Iwo Jima. I take them back to Normandy. I take them back to Germany so they could be where they fought their battles. It struck a chord with me at a six hour drive back from San Diego to Tucson by myself and my mind starts working. Here’s a guy who’s the best in the world at what he did here. Professional athletes professional football player. He’s giving back his time seven. Teen half years, I’ve received a medal of valor to Chief citation of Excellence. I was a member of our SWAT team. What have I done to give back that? What have I done to leave some sort of Legacy if you will this community? Because I couldn’t

Charles Foley
think of anything like it back to Tucson, I was working downtown division at the time in a patrol car, I’m driving around, and I just start seeing them. People, I have poles everywhere, I think the first week that I started looking, I counted 22 in about a two-mile radius. I started thinking why every flagpoles going to have a story is a local business that just forgot about it. Is it there’s no rope and to get it a flagpole rewrote. You have to get either a bucket truck or a scissor lift, maybe people can’t afford it. I didn’t know. So, being in Tucson for a long time, being connected, knowing people reached out to people and said, hey, would you be willing to donate some rope? Would you be willing to donate some Flags? If I needed it. When police Union said, we’ll give you the Rope people. The community says, I’ll give you Flags So I went around and did the easy way first, if I had a rope on a pole, boom, I was putting the flags, this one, something I’m like, yeah, I’ll work my 40 hours as a cop. My days off. I’ll put a flag stand on the radar. Just kind of dress these light poles up.

Charles Foley
Well, that didn’t last very long, my first flag went up on Flag Day on top of the Benjamin Plumbing, building at that sixth and seventh. I think it is and that’s a great story. I walked in there, I said who I was. That’s what I want to do. You guys have a flagpole the top of this building? I just want to put a flag on. It says, hey, you know, I’m not the owner but I’ll tell you, it’s a mess up there, there’s no access to the roof. The stairs were wooden, they were blown away. You can’t get to the room without some sort of a ladder, this, that, okay. So, as I’m starting to walk out, he says, hey, there’s Mark Fuhrman, easy, owner of end of my Plumbing, talk to him. See what he says. So, I get the whole speech against a look. I just want to put up a flag. You have a flagpole. This isn’t a cop. I want to get back. He says, no problem. I’ll build stairs for you. I couldn’t believe it. And as my dad wants, says, that’s between someone who works at the business. It’s someone who owns the business, Mark, Berman built steel corrugated stairs, so you can get out of that building walk down, keep up, lights on that. Flagpole first, like I put up was on Benjamin, Plumbing on Flag Day. For years ago, why did you choose that location?

Charles Foley
I saw it as a gateway to Tucson, and I saw before that beautiful mural was put up there. All that I saw that building our newest historic and I knew as a Gateway coming in off of I-10 and you’re coming into the U of A, or you’re coming into Tucson. What better place to start. I think, Joe’s Josiah’s Joss, lawyer may have designed that building or had some role in it. Rossler’s a long time architect and our community. And you know, it’s a historic building and I figured coming into Tucson coming into your Baby. That’s it. That’s a Gateway. And that was before, like I said, the mural, I knew they were going to the widening of all the aviation all that stuff and thank goodness that building is going to be there and they’re always putting up flags. That was that was number one since then. I’ve put up over a hundred in Pima County lost. Count, I stopped Counting about a year ago over a hundred but then it sort of morphing into hey my dad served in the military or in a woman called me and said my husband He passed away. He was in the military. I have his casket flag. I want you to have it. My kids don’t want it. I’m old. I can’t use it. I want you to have my family’s casket flag. As you probably know casket flags are a little bit different shape and size than a normal flight because they cover casket their 9 feet long. They’re made of cotton, they’re not in every day flying flag.

Charles Foley
So, I reached out to a friend of mine at the mercy of Arizona and the athletics department, I said James, you guys fly an American flag already there every home football game. Why not fly a different families casket flag internment flag at every game? So you know what, a small do. Not only will I do it, but I’ll get four tickets for the family to attend the game. And I want them all on the field for the national anthem. No pomp no circumstance, won’t say their name, but they’re on the field for the national anthem.

Charles Foley
I taught these young interns, I said, hey what’s it like for the family? When they’re on the field there’s 50,000 people. He’s a struggle. We have to step back. The family is falling. So for the last three years, I just got confirmation though. They’re do it again this year and I’ve already got all six home games wind up. Sometimes it’s an honor of an unknown veteran. If it’s around Veterans Day, I’ll fly a flag for no one in particular if you will, and I’ll make sure are some local veterans. Go to the game. Last year, we had a member at the DM Air Base, who took his own life tragically. It was a tragic event took his own life one. My flew his flag and I had his for Squad mates. Who were mechanics out of DM they want to the game you know so it’s not always about a particular fan way certain events that happen in our community people that I meet throughout the year. Those are people that are remember and I’ll reach out and say hey you want to go to a game, you want to be on the field, you want to have your father, your family recognized just pick mainly for you. Absolutely. People love this people up. You Mase as far as I know, the only University in the country that does it. It’s a chance. Yeah,

Tom Heath
I did. I did not realize they even did that. So I keep learning, I keep learning but at some point, your passion turned into some structure because you have it organization. Now, it’s not just you out there hanging Flags in the middle of the night… but it is me. But you have you got an organization as well.

Charles Foley
I do 501. C, 3 non-profit, Flags for the Flagless. Once I saw that it was starting to grow bigger than I could ever imagine I said okay I need to put some structure to this. People want to donate but they were hesitant, you know, they wanted to see that nonprofit status so they wanted that 501 c 3 designation. So I did it wasn’t easy right? For a lot of people especially the guy like myself who is just a cop and he’s once inside nonprofit to start up but I did so it’s a non-profit and I have a website as you know on there if you want to donate. There’s a PayPal you can write to PayPal or I have a PO box if you want to mail A check or Flags or both, you know, it’s easy to make it a lot easier and it’s a tax write-off, right? I mean, it’s a donation to a local charitable organization that just and then one is going to the organization. You don’t have a lot of overhead of bureaucracy. It’s going to Flags poles, it just me, I don’t have an office. I don’t have any staff. It’s just me. Yeah, it’s just myself. So no overhead. So if you want to give a flag, you want to donate $25, or $50, whatever it may be or five whatever. It’s either by it a flag or it’s not Me. Maybe fill my gas tank, a little bit to go out to cells where I gave a hundred, eighty Flags to the school district out and cells, right? Or, you know, Flags just I’ll never someone’s asking.

Charles Foley
So when does this end, I don’t see it ever ending everywhere, I go, Provo Utah, New York, Seattle, there’s empty flagpole throughout this country, I mean it could never really theoretically end, you know, there’s always a need for more Flags.

Tom Heath
So you’re in Tucson, but you’re from San Diego. So you’ve expanded this program into San Diego to correct.

Charles Foley
Yeah. So September 11th of last year, I went out there and I met up with my friend who inspired me Donnie Edwards, we had a local news media out there and we raised our first flag in San Diego on September 11th of 2017 right there in San Diego. So Donnie was there which helped bring out the news media to. I’m a small fish I’m saying hey go got like Donnie Edwards makes a phone call or I mentioned his name. I news media out there they They were raising flags and so I put about four five now up in San Diego.

Tom Heath
So, Well we can I go back to this 2018 interview with Charlie Foley and just a few minutes and we’ll have him predict of the future in 2018 and very accurate as we roll into 2021. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio at 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown, Radio dot-org. Hey we’re going to finish up that 2018 interview with Charlie Foley of Tucson’s flags for the flag was– and Special attention, because he talks about some things happening in the future of 2018, and as we rolled a 2021, his predictions were pretty accurate.

Charles Foley
Is there a preference that you give to schools or nonprofits? Or is it just a few? Is it location? What would sort of drives that decision? It doesn’t even matter. So, again, I started out the flagpoles that I could see if I could see a business, right? I would try to hit those businesses to he’s Congress where Are the I do, but still the Chase Bank building, but they had to old flag poles out there. I wanted to hit high traffic areas businesses. I wanted to hit up. Well, I just got an email, the other day from the Boys and Girls Club said, hey, we have six clubhouses. We need new Flags, we need rope. Okay, we’ll have our boys and girls club if someone calls me and says, hey, I know a widow that lives down my street. She has a flagpole, she needs some help. I’ll go help her up, right? If I see an empty flat, Might just pop in and say, hey, this is what I do. And I have made it so that There’s, there’s no question of. Well, what about rope? What about getting up? Know, all you have to do

Charles Foley
is say, I want to flag I’ll make it happen out of the hundred and thirty Flags. I put up, I’ve had one person. Say no thanks and I walk away. I don’t bug. Oh, I don’t want to but I don’t want to harass people or feel like they have to put up a flag if you say no no problem. I don’t ask why I just walk away and say okay and then this also is efforts grown Beyond just Using flag, it’s raising awareness, you talk about proper treatment of respect for Flags. I do, you know? And so, I started this program under different presidency before Ferguson. I’m passionate about our country and I convey that you and I were speaking before we came on, is I think we start to realize how lucky we are to live, where we are. And so it’s more about just the country. The how fortunate we are to live here. You know, every day we have people wanting to get into this country from wherever they are, they want to come to this country. So it’s not just about the flag, it just being proud and be an understanding that

Charles Foley
you live in the greatest country in the world. And I think that’s what I want to remind people. That’s what started this. It’s if I were a flag on my lapel coat doesn’t mean I vote a certain way, doesn’t mean I watch a certain News Channel. I love my country end of story, so don’t let a flag flying on Sixth Avenue or Own think that you’re voting a certain way, or your your politics are just about our country. That’s it. That’s all I want people to realize we can disagree. We could have an open dialogue and were able to do that because of the country we live in. I teach once in a while. People that want to become US citizens, they have to take a class. They want to learn and I ask them these people from Senegal from China from Ethiopia Ethiopia about their country in the flag. We’re very fortunate to wear where we live and what we’re about to burn our flag with no recourse. You do that in any other country, right? Our freedom of speech or freedom of religion, all of it that flag should remind

Charles Foley
all of us, how what can we are? The downtown area? Right now has 30, some of your flags flying? And I think that started last year around flag day, which is June 14. Correct. And that was sort of a an attempt of the downtown Tucson partnership in the merchants to to instill a sense of

Tom Heath
patriotism around that time frame of

Charles Foley
July 4th. We have the fireworks, we didn’t have sort of a foundation behind it and so they reached out and you provided and my thought was you and I about same age. I remember you look at old photos from the 40s, even the 50s everybody in this country have Flags out on every street corner on every building, there was a flag and then it stopped for whatever reason. I don’t know, we’re able to do all that because of the people that have died and fought for that flag and Memorial Day. I know in the past I don’t I don’t know if this last year for the past you’ve organized events to put Flags out on Veterans Graves I write various Evergreen. Yeah. So Evergreen myself and American Legion Post 7 we get together and we would get they first started out they said they would get 40 people over the years. They wanted a bigger turnout. So they reached out to me and through Social Power social media, the first year they asked me to help it was the largest turnout they’ve ever had. And we would just get

Charles Foley
a thousand Flags to go to Evergreen Cemetery at about 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning of Memorial weekend, and those flags, and you’ve been there to go to that cemetery. And there’s no Flags when you leave at 12 o’clock that day and you see a carpet of flags It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty and I encourage families to bring their kids. I want to see little kids, a little young children out there right after you and I are gone. It’s the young kids are gonna have to carry on this love of country. The patriotism, remember our veterans. I want those young boys, young girls, remember, I remember going Cemetery with my parents on Memorial Day placing flags at headstones. That’s what I want to instill. Just there. What finding was a huge day talking to people before you and I were adults or kids. It’s like find a used to be this huge What happened, right? It just, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can bring that back, but at least start start the conversation or just, you know, hang a flag doesn’t mean

Charles Foley
anything. Other than love of country is how I look at her proud to be an American. That’s all. So, how can people help obviously money? They can go to Flags. Will pull us over? Yeah, so it’s flags and then the number for flag list. Dot org, then go there. And really like I was saying there’s no end to this their empty flag poles everywhere. So really it’s either funds if you will for me to buy Flags or just donate Flags, my only caveat to that would be American made American flags. There are some other countries that want to make an American flag. I would ask that if you are going to buy flags and send Em in, try to make sure they’re made in the USA. Other than that, to me Flags, I’ll take care of the rest of the Rope. I’ve got people that will donate the Rope to If you see an empty flagpole or you see a place or, you know, someone that needs a flag, shoot me an email, right? Just shoot me an email through the website. I’ll go check it out. That’s how this all works. Either through social

Charles Foley
media through the website, if you’ve seen empty flagpole somewhere, you know, maybe an elderly woman or elderly, man on your street that you need some help or something. Let me know we’ll go out there and help right now. It’s it’s still part time but I think in the when I retire in three years I could do this. Well, my questions have been answered. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that? You think’s important? We get out State of Arizona requires that every classroom, publicly-funded classroom has American flag in it. If your kids attend a school and they don’t have Flags in the classroom, let me know. I have a gentleman in town who has assured me that he will donate any flag to any school for any classroom throughout the entire city. And The Tohono o odham nation. That would keep your school district out in cells. They wanted to do a hundred and forty Flags in every office. Every classroom, my donor gave all the flags to them. So locally, if you have a child that’s in a school

Charles Foley
that doesn’t and I meet a real flag, not a little. There were some of these schools have a little cut out, a photocopy of a flag. No my guy, my donor will give you a flag on a staff with amount to put in any classroom and so I want to make sure if there’s families out there. Their kids out there. I remember, I wasn’t the sharpest, kid, in school, my mind and eyes would wander. And it would go right to that flag at times that in the clock on the wall. The two things I would get my attention. So that’s all we’re, you know, if people see need for Flags man, just let me know. I do whatever I can and I rarely say no so help any way I

Tom Heath
can Well, in 2018, retirement seem too far away for Charlie, and now we find that he is within a few months of retiring from the Tucson Police Department. And I checked in with him and he certainly is expecting to do more with flags for the flag list and he’s got some really good ideas and invite you to check out his website. Keep track of what’s Happening Now here, locally, and as things that are expanding across the country with him, Well my name is Tom Heath. You’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio. We’re at 99.1 FM and streaming of Downtown Radio dot org. Well, we are about to wrap up here episode number 153. As always, you can head over to Life along the streetcar dot-org. If you want to hear some of our past episodes, this one will be available. Probably I think we get them up there typically within the next day or so but do stay tuned to Downtown Radio. We’ve got Ted ski or Fabulous. Weekday DJ is here on Sundays now with a show called words and work as he

Tom Heath
interviews members, writers and others from the labor movement and coming up on life along the streetcar. We’re going to jump back to the music scene next week with an interview. Mark Martinez of the Rialto Theater. He also goes by Max Webster here on Downtown Radio. He’s a photographer of mostly music events. Very connected with bands and we want to get his sense of. What’s the music scene here in? Tucson going to look like coming out of the pandemic and in speaking with him it looks very bright so you definitely want to tune in for that show. If you’re interested in local music to see where things are going. And as always, if you’ve got a topic for us to cover, just hit us up on our Facebook page, share us will share back. If you’ve got any downtown or Urban core related material and you can always email us contact at Life along the streetcar if you want to make some suggestions for topics. Fix or guess that we could have on our show. And honor of a Charlie Foley’s upcoming and soon to

Tom Heath
be happening. Retirement from Tucson Police Department. We’re going to leave you a little music today. Specially chosen, this is from Bryce, Winston off of his 2010 album, introducing various Winston. The song is called time to spare. Hope you have a great week into next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar.

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