May 6, 2021

WHEN AN ORCHID WAS AN ORCHID!

This photo of my parents was taken on Mother’s Day Sunday in May, 1950.  We’d just moved into our new home built on top of the hill above the log house on Decatur Pike.  It was the first brand new, built just for us home I’d lived in—so sunny and bright, with lovely views of sunsets over the distant hills. 

Even in our small church, all the women dressed up in their Sunday best, with hats, heels, gloves and purses.  Harriett loved to wear the popular broad-brimmed spring and summer hats—even if they blocked someone’s view of the preacher!  When I was really small, I remember her going out in the yard on Mother’s Day morning and picking red rose buds for Jerry, Joe, Bill and me to wear to church—because our mothers were alive, she said.  She would wear a white rose in memory of her late mother.  And then it became fashionable to order a corsage from Biddle’s Florist to mark the occasion.  Arley would get white carnations for Harriett, red ones for me. 

But by 1950, we’d moved on to the HUGE big orchid corsages for Mother’s Day!  Nothing like those delicate little Phalaenopsis orchid corsages for sale everywhere—even groceries and pharmacies. They were so big, with soft fluttery petals and exotic throats.  Just check out the size of that white orchid corsage Harriett is wearing! Even the box the florist put it in was fancy and beribboned—taking up half a refrigerator shelf!  It seemed such a shame to only wear the flowers once—but it was just for that special occasion.  I loved to take it out of the box and try it on for size before the mirror—pretending I was Cinderella or something.

This second photo was on Mother’s Day Sunday just three years later—1953.  By that time, Arley had been partially paralyzed from a stroke for 18 months or so. He used a wheelchair or walker to get around—but still went to church most Sundays.  He had me order Harriett one of the huge white orchid corsages for this Mother’s Day—and a red carnation for myself.  This was our last family photo—as Arley died on August 12. The era of the large orchid corsages was ending.  We downsized to the Phalaenopsis versions. Nothing was ever as elegant and extravagant as those earlier orchids!

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