The idea for a flagpole at the ferry point on Chappaquiddick was presented to me by the late Roy Gunderson probably more than a dozen years ago. He was expressing his disappointment that the Edgartown Yacht Club didn’t seem to be flying weather warning flags as it had in the past. As a kid, I remember the yacht club burgee often being replaced at the masthead by the Small Craft Advisory single red pennant.

The basic weather warning flag system consists of red pennants and red square flags with a central black square. I always equated the appearance of these pennants and flags with wild noisy flapping. If you’ve ever seen the Hurricane Warning flags on display, which is two of the black in red squares, you know the sinister look they possess and the feeling of doom they evoke. They are flown one above the other on a single halyard which will be bowing out in the 64-plus knot breeze.

There are even more definitive weather flags which utilize a white square for fair weather and a blue one, very appropriately, for rain. Along with white pennants, combinations of pennants and squares indicate which quadrant a storm will blow from.

I know that Roy would be disappointed if I didn’t look into how an entity becomes authorized by the National Weather Service to display weather warnings. He had a way of asking a question so directly and plainly that you felt obliged to give an answer. Every year or so he would corner me at the firehouse and in a loud voice ask, “Well, young fellow, why aren’t you flying storm warning flags down at the point?”

By his tone of voice, I knew that he expected me to either be doing it or to give him a darn good reason why I, personally, wasn’t.

I know that many of the other fire fighters have been treated to his intense inquiries regarding his perception of an individual’s responsibilities. His interest was sincere and well intentioned. My favorite was when Roy asked one of his superior officers when he was going to get around to marrying the wonderful woman that he had been living with for many years. The officer’s surprised response was many faceted and as indicated by the grin that spread across Roy’s face, satisfactory.