Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 27, 1972 · Page 51
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August 27, 1972

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 51

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, August 27, 1972
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Page 51
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Seniors Show They Have Green Thumb mf. YUMMY! Myrtle Spencer and Virginia Hawkins By A imp Howard G a r d e n Editor I don'I know when I've hat! such a pleasant afternoon's visit. It was Wednesday, and the place was the Villager Apartment at 650 6th St., in St. Albans. The occasion was an introduction to the nicest group of people you can imagine--and a vegetable garden that topped any I've seen in many a moon. It seems that some the residents of this public housing project for the elderly decided t o j grow a vegetable gu den. They were enthusiastically backed up by Mrs. Mary Wilbur, project manager' of the three-year-old, 30-apartment complex, and you should see it! Actually. 1 "'" ' ' ' it's not one large garden Anne Howard as it appears, but a collection of nine gardens, kept up by the tender loving care of some 11 senior citizens. The garden is approximately 50 by 100 feet in size, and literally packed with vegetables. There were enormous tomatoes, corn as high as a very tall elephant's eye, squash galore, and enough cucumbers to make a mountain of cucumber sandwiches. There were beans. There were cabbages of tremendous size. And let's not forget the peppers. The gareners told me they have had lettuce, and many of them were planning on putting in some fall crops, such as turn- nips, kale and mustard. And who did the work? The senior citizens, that's who. And not one of thorn looked his or her age, which ran from 62 to up in the 80s. All of these delightful people commented on how much benefit they've received from the exercise of gardening. When we asked if they'd had fun doing it, one of the men--Charles Carpenter--was a little doubtful if you could call it "fun." But we noticed he was one of the first (o become enthusiastic about the prospect of growing some gourds next year, after Mrs. Virginia Hawkins said she wished she'd thought of having some this yar. They were all enthusiastic about the help provided by the city, and especially by Paul McCallister, the local councilman, who saw to it that the garden was plowed. They all think very highly of McCallister, the housing authority, and Flowers Add Color to Fair A state fair isn't all farm animals, grandstand shows and carnivals, and trotting races. One of the more popular features of the State Fair of West Virginia which concluded its 48th annual presentation Saturday is the flower show. In fact there are two shows, one on Monday and the other on Thursday, so fresh material can be displayed. One of the "regulars" who participate in the shows year after year is Mrs. E. G. McDowell of Fairlea. She usually wins scads of blue ribbons for her dahlia entries, as well she should, for she and her husband grow more than a hundred varieties of the flower. Incidentally, she doesn't have to go far to bring her entries to the fair--she lives at 134 East Fair St. in Fairlea, within sight of the fairgrounds. (Photo by Frank Wilkin) (he cooperation of the city \ \ h i c h , incidentally, sprayed and cut weeds adjacent to the garden to keep the bugs away. · * . * WE MET \VITII the gardeners in the community room of the center and after a round of discussion and introductions, we said we were dying to see their garden. Some of them said it wasn't looking its best right then, but Mrs Charles Carpenter said that, after all, it looked like the lime of the year it is, adding that even the weeds and their blooms looked pretty to her. True gardener talk, to be sure. As a general rule, the gardeners work in the early morning and late afternoon, when it's not so hot. Everybody is looking forward to next year. The tomato stakes will be stored safely away somewhere, and when spring comes the group will be hard at it again. In the meantime, there are plans being made by the Raven Park Garden Club of St. Albans to install benches, a fish pond, a rose garden, more trees, and a general five-year beautification program, with work to proceed this fall. In addition to the good exercise and healthful outdoor activities, and the good food, there's another benefit that each and every one of the gardeners experienced. "We feel it's brought us all closer together," one of them said. "We're all one big family now." THERE WAS Mrs. Myrtle Spencer, for instance. She planted corn, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, peppers, and cucumbers. She commented that her half runner beans had been planted to go up the cornstalks--"It looks like my mother's garden," she said. "I never thought when I left the farm at 13 that I'd be out here right now working another garden." Mrs. Spencer, incidentally, is in "partnership" with Emmitt Ripley, who is blind. "She serves as his eyes." commented Mrs. Wilbur, adding that Mr. Ripley walks out into the garden almost every day. Mrs. Spencer cooks the garden produce for him and has done quite a bit of canning for both of them. In return, Mr. Ripley saw to it that stakes were purchased for all of the gardeners to use on tomatoes and anything else they wanted to stake up. He's looking forward, he says, to the proposed fish pond, which will be right outside his door. Mr. Ripley, incidentally, showed me his Braille wristwatch, and I was told he has a Braille Bible and teaches Sunday School almost every Sunday. He's "as happy as a kid over Christmas" concerning the garden. Mrs. Spencer has canned five quarts of beans, 14 quarts of pickles, and as a result of their combined efforts, corn will be coming in soon. She'll can that, too. * » · MR. AND MRS. Charles Carpenter had tomatoes, cabbage and "loads of beans and cucumbers." Their daughter (in her own kitchen) already has canned 23 quarts of half runner beans, put up nine or 10 quarts of dill picljlas, and plans to can tomatoes next. If put to a vote, the gardeners probably would elect the Carpenters' garden as being the cleanest kept. "We didn't have a bug or a worm the entire summer." Mrs. Carpenter exclaimed with pardonable pride. This was the Carpenters' first effort in growing a garden and they've developed a great interest in gardening. "We've practicsHy lived out there," they said. * » · MRS. RUTH DAVIS has lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and some fine looking summer squash. She has frozen cucumbers, tomatoes and squash. She, Mrs. Sada Hunter and Mrs. Nina Sheridan first met with the Housing Authority to gain approval for the garden therapy program --"to make them useful once again" they said. Mrs. Davis, incidentally, is a very spry and young-looking 80-year-old Mrs. Sheridan, another 80-year-old, didn't participate actively in the gardening, but it was thanks to her interest that it was undertaken. MRS. VIRGINIA HAWKINS has half runner beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, pep- Charletton, We.st'lffirginia lK--Aii«usi 27, 1972 pers. and cabbages. She's frozen beans and given away much of the other produce to non-gardener residents of the apartment. She's planning on growing some gourds next year. Mrs. Hawkins says her garden wouldn't have been a success without the efforts of neighbors, especially Walter Morrison and the Carpenters. 11 was Mrs. Hawkins, incidentally, who telephoned for two days finding a man to plow the garden. MRS. DORA PERRY has teen named as the "greenest thumb" in the group. She planted some flowers and a tomato came up. So she transplanted it to the garden and got quite a crop from it. Sh« originally set out six tomato plants. That's all she set out, she says, but they made up for their lack of numbers in the size of the tomatoes, especially the Big Boys. According to the re.st of the gardeners, Mrs. Perry's tomatoes are the best of the lot. MRS. SADA HUNTER has tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, yellow summer squash, and lettuce. She gave away all she didn't use, and already has cleaned up part of her garden and planted turnips. She plans to put in kale and mustard. Her squash plot is a joy to behold. She even planted some marigolds to keep the bugs off--and it must have worked, because she said she didn't have any bean beetles. Several of the gardeners commented that they'd like to include more flowers in their gardens next year. It was Mrs. Hunter who originally suggested the idea of a garden. "Mrs. Wilbur worked very hard to see we got space," she said. "We couldn't have done anything without her." WALTER MORRISON has tomatoes, half runner beans, peppers, cabbage, squash, and cucumbers. His cabbages are the biggest in the garden. "I'm afraid they'll burst," he said, -proudly indicating a head of cabbage that would make enough slaw for the entire housing project. Mr. Morrison, age 83, is a walking testimonial to the benefits of gardening. Last year he took care of the flowers that are scattered throughout the grounds in neat, attractive beds. Unhappily, he suffered a slipped disc and was laid up for a while, thinking his gardening days were over. But he got interested in the vegetable project and forgot about his back. Now he's active as the rest of them in digging and delving and pulling up weeds and harvesting ripe produce. And he's got his ground ready for turnips and kale. Mrs. Mi; n on is the "silent partner" in his part ot the garden--she cooks all he brings in! MRS. PEARL MILAM will be celebrating her wan birthday on Aug. 31. She set out six tomatoes--three of them for her shut-in neighbor, Mrs. Velma McCallister --thus proving that the good neighbor policy is flourishing in the Villager Apartment. I hope they'll ask me back to see the crop of pumpkins that'll be coming along about Halloween time! It was a happy afternoon, with a group of people who have found a way to keep busy and in the process create an atmosphere of contentment and friendship. We congratulate the City of St. Albans, Councilman McCallister. the Raven Park Garden Club, and a nice group of people at the Villager Apartment. (Photos by Femll Friend) MRS. E. G. MCDOWELL OF FATRLEA With Basket of Her Prize-Winning Dahlia- 'LOOKS PRLTTY (,OOI. DOESN'T IT K i i i h I ' a v i s ,-vi! S.ida H u n t e r

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