1941 - 1947 Club History by Etheldreda Anderegg version 2
[Editor's note: The original document was too faded to scan. This is a different version of a history written by Mrs. Etheldreda Anderegg from 1941 – 1947]
Plainfield Garden Club History
Continued to 1947
On May 14th, 1941 – six years ago to-day in Cedarbrook Park – the Anniversary Dogwood Trees were formally presented to the Park Commission. In making the presentation, Mrs. Arthur Nelson, president, said the garden club wished to make a gift of lasting beauty to mark its anniversary. Mr. Tracey responding for the Park Commissioners commended the club for its civic interest and declared the trees would bring a touch of beauty to thousands of lives. The gift was identified by a large boulder bearing a bronze marker. Mrs. Holliday as chairman of the Dogwood Tree Committee and of the Boulder Committee arranged the anniversary celebration.
That year, 1941, an article appeared in Horticulture in praise of our Shakespeare Garden.
A teacher of the Jefferson School staff was sent to the Audubon Nature Camp in Maine.
Handsome new yearbooks containing a revised constitution, membership lists and permanent covers with loose leaves were issued. About this time some of our members looking back upon some of our achievements of the past, and forward for new horizons to explore, agreed that once more we should storm the ramparts of the Garden Club of America. No organization in garden club circles offers to its members such a wide field of opportunities and assured prestige. This reporter has sat in many important national and state conferences were the effect of this prestige could be observed. When important decisions were due there was an intangible inference in the atmosphere which stemmed to imply – "All those not members of the Garden State of America may now retire to the Jim Crow car."
Better to have failed in the high aim than to succeed vulgarly in the low one" said Browning.
So a committee to explore the possibilities of our being accepted for membership was named by Mrs. Nelson. With Mrs. Corriel as chairman, the committee consisted of Miss Elsie Harmon, Mrs. C. Boardman Tyler, Miss Elizabeth Browne, Miss William Tyler, Mrs. William A. Holliday, Mrs. James Devlin and your historian. Our search for new worlds to conquer began with a meeting at the home of Mrs. William Tyler, on February 21, 1941, when your historian read a letter she had been asked to write to Mrs. Frederic Kellogg, of Morristown Garden Club, prominent garden club personality. The letter would be interesting at this point, but unfortunately it has been lost. Suffice to say, our prise of ourselves was so completely uninhibited that the committee itself was profoundly impressed by the record of performance of the Plainfield Garden Club set forth therein. Shakespeare said "Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful." After all they could not know our worth unless we told them. This time we forestalled a verdict that we had "accomplished nothing."
It might be interjected here that during Mrs. Goddard's regime an effort was made to join the Garden Club of America. Mrs. Kellogg, approached on that occasion, graciously entertained Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Holliday at luncheon, and they left with the impression that Plainfield, having rejected an invitation to become a charter member of that organization during Mrs. Herring's tenure, it would be futile ever to hope for membership.
An active campaign was launched by all who had relatives or friends in member clubs. This was accelerated when it was learned that a neighboring club had an identical ambition, and had found a sponsor. Because of geographical allocation, we realized that only one of us would be admitted. When it became apparent that we had aroused interest, and had a semblance of chance for acceptance, a special meeting was called at the home of Mrs. Corriel, and the advantages of membership in the Garden Club of America, as well as the financial obligations thoroughly explored. The club was asked to decide whether they wished the committee to proceed with the negotiations. The vote was unanimously affirmative.
Subsequently Mrs. Kellogg requested that the Morristown Club have the pleasure of proposing us, and Mrs. Lauderdale of Short Hills offered to have that club second us. While we waited for the verdict, our campaign never waned.
On May 11th, 1941, tenth anniversary of Iris Garden, the executive board gave a tea to honor Miss Halloway. Mrs. Holliday arranged a delightful affair in the field house. Members of the garden club and thirty guests were invited. Miss Halloway's friends came from far and near while the Iris Garden glowed in a rainbow of colors for the occasion.
The war which was sweeping over France while Mrs. VanBoskerck's history concluded had now reached our shores. "Come to open purple testament of bleeding war." (King Richard) Our members were working for the U.S.O., the Red Cross and Camp Kilmer, apart and in conjunction with the garden club. Plans were sent to the camp to enhance its barren scenes, and seeds to Brittain. Victory gardens were planted, two new chairmanships were added to the executive board – War Activities and Victory Gardens.
In May 1943, we provided vases and began to send flowers regularly to the chapels at Camp Kilmer. This is still being done. Garden books from the Garden Center were placed in the Public Library. Because of gasoline and food rationing it was becoming difficult to hold meetings. Speakers were reluctant to use scarce gasoline and tires for small groups. The war organizations were asking for more things, more effort and more money. The garden club was striving to provide all three.
In June 1943 a delegation from the Garden Club of America came to inspect our members' gardens. Those gardens chosen to head the list were duly explored and approved, but unfortunately the sand of time ran out before they could see them all, and they will never realize all they missed. However, they did see the dogwood planting, the Shakespeare and Iris gardens.
At the annual meeting Mrs. Samuel Carter gave a particularly interesting history of the Shakespeare garden, which was later read by request at the Shakespeare Club. Mrs. Carter said in part: "It has been said that we of the Western World love flowers for what they are, and that the peoples in the East love them for what they suggest. A Shakespeare Garden is full of suggestions, a speaking garden revealing the tradition, folklore and romance of the ancient and timeless plants." Mr. Tracey quoted an authority on the subject as saying that Mrs. Carter's was the finest Shakespeare Garden in the country and that over 15,000 people visited it last year.
Mrs. Coriell announced at the executive board meeting February 2nd, 1944, that Plainfield Garden Club had been elected to membership in the Garden Club of America, and letters of welcome received from sponsoring clubs. It had required three years to reach the new horizons, but a poet once said, "A horizon is nothing but the limit of our sight" so each one attained shows another beckoning in the distance.
Because of rationing, meetings were held in semi-public places of central location. Speakers stressed every phase of conservation. Garden club members were working hard at Camp Kilmer, for the Red Cross and the U.S.O.
In 1945 we became a Founder of the Blue Star Drive, our members contributing generously to this beautiful tribute to the men who served in the armed forces. It is hoped, and the hope is rapidly being fulfilled, that ultimately it will stretch from New Jersey to California.
A new custom was instituted, that of sending a sum of money to the Red Wood Tribute Grove in memory of deceased members. This year, 1945, a dance recital was given to help defray expenses of war activities. Naturally it was under the chairmanship of Miss Maud vonBoskerck, whose motto might well be "Music is my talent – my dearest one." It was very successful artistically and financially.
We helped the New York Botanical Garden celebrate its Fiftieth Anniversary by sending hostesses every day for a week, and by a substantial sum of money for plant research.
In 1945 Lyons Hospital was included on our flower and plant list, and we have continued to supply it weekly for two months of each year. Flowering trees were planted along Blue Star Drive in memory of members' sons lost in the war.
Mrs. Samuel Carter and Miss Harriette Halloway received awards from the Garden Club of New Jersey for their work in Shakespeare and Iris gardens respectively.
Besides bouquets were made twice a week for the wards at Camp Kilmer, beginning in May. Our members volunteered to arrange them.
By this time we were discovering that those "new worlds to conquer" for which we had longed, were providing more opportunities than we could well cope with, and so a junior membership was formed, now numbering six.
The associate membership was enlarged to thirty-five so that active members might be enabled to transfer to it. A questionnaire was sent of work they wished to do. In a Garden Club of America contest for a year's program, Miss Halloway's won honorable mention.
Beginning early in December members of the club met every day in Mrs. Boardman Tyler's studio to make Christmas decorations for the hospital at Camp Kilmer. A big fire blazed in the stove, tons of varied evergreens were provided as well as all other necessary equipment. The studio hummed like Santa Claus' workshop, and great quantities of wreaths with large red bows, small bouquets and other favors emerged to cheer the soldiers at Camp Kilmer and Lyons Hospitals. Joyce Kilmer, for whom the camp was named, wrote of his experience in the other World War: "My shoulders ache beneath my pack, Lie easier cross upon his back" We hoped we eased their burden just a little.
The opportunities offered by the Garden Club of America in the field of conservation are so many and so varied, it was necessary to choose which tangent to pursue. In view of the community and national problems of vandalism and child delinquency, it was thought wise to concentrate the major effort in combating these evils. Working through the public schools seemed the most logical procedure. Mr. Wimer of Jefferson School and Mrs. Rulison of the Park Commission have offered sympathetic cooperation. The first step in the program is the establishment of school gardens, now in process of being planted. The garden club provided the funds. A trial garden, or proving bed was started in Cedarbrook Park in 1946. This year many new perennials were added.
Mrs. Hubble's artistic ability was employed so successfully in redecorating the Garden Center, this observer could scarcely recognize it.
The Garden Club of New Jersey bestowed an award upon us for meritorious work at Camp Kilmer. Miss Halloway has made additions to the peony, Iris and Narcissus gardens. It again became necessary to raise money, and a repeat performance by request, of the dance recital was staged by Miss Van Boskerck.
A suggestion from the Garden Club of New Jersey that we plant a tree to honor garden weekled, after consultation with Mr. Tracey, to the beginning of a dogwood arboretum comprising all the varieties that will grow in this vicinity. Twenty-five varieties have already been planted.
Santa Claus helpers gathered again in Mrs. Tyler's studio to make decorations for Camp Kilmer, and surpassed their effort of the previous year. Our work in this Project was not equaled by that of any club either year.
A thrill of pride must have quivered through our membership from founders to newest recruits, triumphs of our members who exhibited in the New York Flower Show. In the realm of flower arrangement there is no more coveted award than the Fenwick Medal. Our Mrs. deHart was runner up fro that prize last year. This year four exhibits won three blue ribbons and two special awards. It was a magnificent performance which won for us third place in the sweepstakes.
Chapel flowers still are sent to Camp Kilmer. Our members arrange them. We take our turn with the other clubs supplying flowers for the entire hospital regularly from gardens when possible, from florists in cold weather. Two gray Ladies representing Plainfield Garden Club, arrange and distribute the flowers through the wards. The by-laws were again revised and new books issued for the permanent covers.
The executive committee has not overlooked the fact that a War Memorial is of paramount interest to the garden club. Much time as been spent in discussion and deep thought given the matter. Mrs. Boardman Tyler has been named a member of the committee. This year we are sending a teacher to the Audubon Nature Camp in Maine, and another to the Conservation Workshop in Trenton.
Several members have been invited to speak on varied subjects, notably Mrs. Garret Smith on Church Gardens, and Miss Halloway on horticultural subjects. Mrs. Garret has been honored as founder of the Little Garden Club of New York City, of which she is honorary president.
A big of biographical information picked up while perusing the minutes is that our new president, Mrs. Loziuex, became a member of the club in 1940, second vice president in 1942, again in 1945, first vice president in 1946 and president in 1947.
Having been a member of the club only ten years, your historian cannot speak with absolute authority, but thinks it probably that the club reached greater heights of achievement under this administration of Mrs. Tyler than during any comparable period of time. This is partly true because of the new opportunities offered by affiliation with the Garden Club of America, and partly due to Mrs. Tyler's dynamic energy and her determination that the Plainfield Garden Club take advantage of these opportunities and assume its rightful position in the vanguard of progressive garden clubs.
Junius described Mrs. Tyler perfectly when he wrote: "the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct and the hand to execute."
We notice as we go over the chronicles of the garden club, the absence of names once listed so frequently:
Those whom we loved so long, and see no more
Loved and still love,
Not dead, but gone before.
If we ever adopt a coat of arms, it might well show crossed trowels over a field of flower arrangements, the other expounding the futility of vandalism to a young cub. And the motto? It must be from Shakespeare, and it is from The Tempest: Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground.
Or if we choose to abandon the classics: Never a dull moment!