The PFA Turns 20

From VexTab #49, by Ted Kaye (& John Hood)

It’s been 20 years!

The Portland Flag Association had its roots in the local organizing committee for the 28th annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. The organization itself was conceived at a sub-meeting of NAVA 28, held in Portland, Oregon, in October 1994. It was originally envisioned as a regional group for “Cascadia”, with quarterly meetings hosted by members in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

The flag of NAVA 28.  Design by Donald T. Healy.  Image by Clay Moss from
The flag of NAVA 28. Design by Donald T. Healy. Image by Clay Moss from FOTW.

The first regular meeting was held in Seattle in March 1995. However, as the logistics proved overwhelming, soon after that it was reduced to the “Portland Flag Group”, since all members lived in or around Portland.

Harry Oswald (1927-2008).  Photo from
Harry Oswald (1927-2008). Photo from

By 1999, the Harry Oswald (who had chaired the NAVA 28 committee and had a personalized license plate reading “NAVA 28”) was doing his best to keep the rabble in order. He kept the mailing list, recruited members, sent out meeting notices, and edited a one-page newsletter summarizing each quarterly meeting. That May, John Hood debuted a full-color two-page newsletter (Issue 1 of The Vexilloid Tabloid).

John Hood (1934-2011)
John Hood (1934-2011)

In January 2001 we agreed to identify ourselves as the “Portland Flag Association”; in 2010 we adopted a flag. In August 2013 we joined FIAV, the International Federation of Vexillological Associations.

We now have over 30 members, meet bi-monthly, and publish the Vexilloid Tabloid six times a year.

(For a more, see

Twitter, Facebook, and Beyond

We’re now carrying the flag on Twitter as well as Facebook:

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The Portland Pedalpalooza  Bike Festival uses the flag of Portland (along with Cascadia’s) to promote an eclectic mix of over 260 events. (Source: Portland Mercury 6/4/2014)
The Portland Pedalpalooza Bike Festival uses the flag of Portland (along with Cascadia’s) to promote an eclectic mix of over 260 events. (Source: Portland Mercury 6/4/2014)

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The Vexilloid Tabloid is the bimonthly newsletter of the Portland Flag Association, edited by Ted Kaye.  Each issue features the What’s That Flag? quiz, Flags in the News (news stories featuring flags), Flutterings (highlights from the last PFA meeting), and Portland Flag Miscellany (news about Portland’s city flag), as well as feature articles on flag-related topics by PFA members and other contributors.

We announce each issue here on as a blog post, and add it to the online archive (where you can find all back issues). We also send it out to our email subscribers list as a PDF attachment.  If you would like to be added to that list, just email

John Hood 1934-2011

John Hood and Mayor Vera Katz with the first redesigned Portland Flag, 2002
Everyone who drove on S.E. 39th Avenue opposite Laurelhurst Park knew the Flag House. Portlanders enjoyed the changing daily display of three flags—all flown for some special reason—by John Hood. There, with his long-time companion Vivian Jackson, he built a collection of over 600 full-size flags and enthusiastically shared them with passersby based on a database of flag-flying days he’d built over several years.

John, who died at age 77 after a battle with cancer, was a charter member of the Portland Flag Association, a group which had grown out of the organizing committee for the 1994 annual meeting of the North American Vexillological Association. After his friend Harry Oswald moved to Texas, John took over the “central coordinator” role for the PFA, and created and published its occasional newsletter, The Vexilloid Tabloid. In it he chronicled PFA meetings, challenged members with flag quizzes, and documented local and national flag doings. He famously wrote, “If you wish to compliment the editor, contact John Hood. If you wish to complain, call your mother.”

He was the first and most gracious host of the now-bimonthly meetings of the PFA, catered with bountiful sweets baked by Vivian. In his living room in 2002, the group hatched a successful effort to redesign the 1969 flag of the City of Portland. After PFA members arranged political support, testified before city council, and watched the redesign ordinance pass unanimously, Mayor Vera Katz asked them to replace the council chamber’s old flag. John attached the newly-adopted flag to the pole, becoming the first person to raise Portland’s current flag.

John was raised in Idaho, served in the Navy, and had a career with the telephone company in San Francisco. A generous soul, John especially supported up-and-coming vexillologists, recently giving his entire collection of flag periodicals from around the world to young members of the PFA.

His colleagues will miss his jovial spirit, expansive knowledge of flags, and commitment to inclusion and conviviality.

Ted Kaye

Notes on the September 2011 meeting

We had another lively discussion, this time in the somewhat hard to find Tupelo Alley “Eco-Lounge”. We had decent attendance, though we particularly missed John Hood, who was unable to attend due to health issues. Here are a few highlights, each with an illustration!

Scott Mainwaring and Ted Kaye gave a brief report on their experiences at the Washington Flag Congress (which was both the 44th annual NAVA meeting and the 24th biennial International Congress of Vexillology convened by FIAV, Fédération Internationale des Associations Vexillologiques in the language of international diplomacy, French, or International Federation of Vexillological Associations, in English). Scott and Ted are shown here holding the flag designed for the congress (now part of the Kaye collection). Scott wondered aloud if our own Portland Flag Association, being in fact a vexillological association, might qualify for membership in FIAV; Ted seems to like that idea. More at the next meeting. Continue reading “Notes on the September 2011 meeting”

Who could replace John Hood?

The answer, of course, is no one. However, as John reveals in his Open Letter to Members in the latest edition of The Vexilloid Tabloid, someone must replace John as editor of this venerable publication if it is to continue. Over 29 issues John has diligently and with great humor built the Tabloid into one of the finest vexillological publications in this country, but serious health issues are forcing him to step down from serving as editor and publisher.