Fifty Years Ago
Reflections on 1958
AHS President Wilmer Flory began his first President's Message
of 1958 by writing, "A new year and a fresh start on the
same old problems." He did not delve into the problems, but
he did mention the recent launch of the Russian Sputnik satellite
and, thus, the need to regenerate our energies and have the
"courage to be happy." Flory viewed
the art of gardening as "the best cure for the stress and strain
of our complex Atomic Age." Surely that feeling still exists
in the hectic age of today. It is interesting to observe the
changes that have brought us to the present, but at times one
sees little difference. Judge for yourself!
The Society began 1958 with 2,546 members and ended with just
over 2,700 – a modest 6% growth rate.
Long-term AHS Registrar, William E. Monroe, entered the age
of technology with authorization to purchase a standard typewriter!
Can you imagine doing that job with just a pencil!
Growers of other plants were drawn to become daylily aficionados.
Fred McGee of SC, a self-proclaimed "dyed in the wool" camellia
grower, wrote of his conversion when shown a "small plant
about the size of a good specimen of nut grass (which it looked
like) and was advised that it cost $25.00" He reflected on
the nice camellia he could buy for that money. Yes, he was
soon growing daylilies! Sound familiar, anyone! Just change
the story by inserting your name and former favorite flower,
and yes, increase the price of that small plant by a factor
of ten or so!
The President's Cup was won at the 1958 Houston
National Convention by Hugh Russell of Texas with Hemerocallis 'Marsha
Russell'. Turns out he won the Stout Medal in '51, the Helen
Field Fischer award in '57 and both the Bertrand Farr Award
and the President's Cup in '58. Now that is something.
Round Robins had been the driving force in
the formation of the Society and by 1958 there were 29 robin
leaders running 36 robin groups. One had a most intriguing
name – the
'Hem' Men Robin. It shared excerpts in The
by such notable personalities as D. R. McKeithan, Robert Schriner,
Carl Carpenter, Eldren Minks, and others who offered their
views on hybridizing. One presumes that women were restricted
from that robin, but they were well represented as 24 of the
29 group leaders.
Prior to 1958, the AHS Board voted in secret at their Fall
Meeting for the Society's top honors – the Helen Field
Fischer gold medal for service and the Bertrand Farr Silver
medal for excellence in hybridizing – and
then proceeded immediately to announce them. In 1958, announcement
of the secret vote was delayed until the subsequent national
convention – a
tradition that continues today.
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