HAITI: Wrapped in Old Glory

Getting dress material that is sturdy and cheap is the perennial problem of the penniless Haitian peasant women. Traditionally, old flour sacks have filled the need. Now cloth dealers in Port-au-Prince have found a bountiful new supply of material: surplus U.S. 48-and 49-star flags. From shore to shore the island is bright with dresses, shirts and kerchiefs in the stars and stripes; in peasant houses red, white and blue serves for sheets, pillow cases and tablecloths.

Purchased from Manhattan dealers, the uncut bolts of flags, generally the small, nonceremonial kind, are retailing for about...

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