2 families agree to carry on American flag tradition

Ann Hall

The late Mickey Cooper and his wife, Annie, began a tradition that lasted for decades on the Isles of Capri. The Coopers continuously donated the American flags flown on the isles at the entrance sign and in front of the Capri Community Center.

A plaque honoring Mickey and Annie for their generosity and patriotism was placed at the base of the flag in front of the center.

Mickey Cooper passed away in 2007, and the tradition was dropped until this month, when the Coopers, joined by the Middlebrooks, announced they will pick up the tradition and carry it forward.

The Coopers and the Middlebrooks both have their businesses on the same properties, and both families have lived in Capri since the late 1970s. The Coopers own and operate the Pelican Bend family-run restaurant in front of Beau Middlebrooks’s real estate office. The two businesses share a single business sign in front.

The restaurant has become a household word on Capri. In fact, one frequent visitor to the isles has made it his family’s Facebook page.

“It is my favorite place in the world to eat,” said Christopher Alan in a letter to his family after a visit this summer.

Beau Middlebrook

Beau Middlebrook has lived on Capri since he was 6 weeks old. He is the son of Chris Middlebrook, who opened his real estate business under the name of Christopher Realty in 1979. Beau’s dad has since left the area, and Beau has opened his own office with Sun Realty.

“I want to show my children that I love these Isles, and giving to the community helps me do that,” said Beau. “I plan to be living here until the day I die,” Middlebrook said.

The flags that are donated are purchased through the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marco Island Post 6370. The late Bud LaMendola, an early settler on the Isles of Capri, brought the idea of getting the flags from the post.

“Not only are they of the best quality money can buy, but they help to support our active and retired veterans and their families,” LaMendola was heard saying repeatedly.

Dave Gardner, Post 6370 commander, was the innovator and is the primary cheerleader for this worthwhile cause. The post sells American flags to raise funds needed to help veterans and their families who have suffered injury while fighting for America’s freedom.

Post 6370 provided direct assistance to Bud LaMendola’ s family on Isles of Capri. LaMendola’s sister’s husband was in hospice. She was unable to visit with her husband daily because she couldn’t drive and public transportation costs were prohibitive. Post 6370 provided her the means by which she was able to be by his side until his death.

Gardner said the project has a dual purpose.

“We are focusing on keeping Americans flying our flag, and trying to get young veterans to carry on good public service,” Gardner said, adding he came up with the idea to sell American-made flags by noticing the large number of old ones that had been discarded in the VFW depository behind Marco City Hall, and those given to his post.

“If all of these are discarded, then folks certainly need replacements,” he said

Incidentally, VFW Post 6370 sets out all 3,200 of the small American flags along the five-mile stretch of Collier Boulevard for Memorial Day and July Fourth.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconuttele.net.

To buy a flag

The flags sold by the post are all made in America and are available in all sizes. They also have boat flags. You may purchase nylon, polyester, and cotton flags with either embroidered stars or appliquéd ones, depending on their sizes. The fly hems are reinforced with four rows of double needle stitching with back-stitch reinforcements to better handle the wear and tear from sun and wind. The grommets are solid brass and thus rust-proof. All purchases are tax-deductible. For more information, call 642-4410 or email annedavid1@embarqmail.com.