Freeport Journal-Standard from Freeport, Illinois on July 12, 1975 · Page 20
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Freeport Journal-Standard from Freeport, Illinois · Page 20

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Freeport, Illinois
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Saturday, July 12, 1975
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Page 20
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Babying The Blo&ms By DUNCA1NT BIRDSELL Journal-Standard City Editor / \.The solidly built man spoke with the * sense of one fulfilled. Would Paul Deininger Sr. have done it differently after a half century of laboring at the task of growing flowers, and vegetable transplants, for the pub" ' '• ' ; • "No. Once a florist, always bne.V said the deceptively high-pitched voice of Deininger. "Once it gets in < your* blood, you may go broke,'but you see the possibilities arid what you did wrong. You learn by experience and it's damned expensive." .Now 74 years old, the dean of Free-; port florists presides over the growing', end of a family floral operation which encompasses a; downtown retail store] greenhouses in a north side residential neighborhood of Freeport and summer growing fields along Yiellow Creek southwest of the city. • As a young greenhouse operator, Deininger saw his business wiped out by the great Depression, but he -rebounded to gradually build up a thriving enterprise which now supports seven families to varying degrees. ; Settled in a folding chair in a nook of the greenhouse potting roonuat the end of a spring afternoon, Deininger enthused over the reawakened interest in gardening among Americans.." ' "There'll be a lot of gardens put in that were not planted before because of no jobs and the price of edibles," he said. Although the Deininger greenhouses show none of the ^architectural neatness of some larger spreads, since they were erected piecemeal over the years on sloping ground,.they, accommodate a goodly volume of plants to supply some prime needs of the floral shop. :• The entire layout is only partially visible from the street. That suits Deininger fine, because zoning prohibits retail sales from the greenhouse.' During a year's time the greenhouse crew of three steady workers grows hundreds of potted geraniums from^cuttings for Mother's Day and Memo ; rial Day, forces potted tulips" and -daf- fodijs fpr the Valentine's Day and Easter trade and finishes off more than 3,000 azaleas for the Christ- mas.Valentine's and Easter season's. Constant vigilance is demanded in any greenhouse operation, Deininger said, so he's pretty much averaged a 16-hour day the year round. Keeping the right light, moisture and temperature-within the glass houses and adjacent cold frames are musts, and insects and diseases are always ready to take their,toll. Fortunately, the advances of technology make plant enemies easier to deal with now, Deininger said. "There've been'-a lot of changes in Insecticides-the'same' as medicines," he recalled. "There are still the old bugs. They^don't change, but it's easier to fight them .than years ago. Then we'd have a hailf acre of hot peppers. We'd dry out the stalks, then burn them in the/greenhouse to keep the ,bugs out. The smoke would kill almost anything. Now you have fungicides and cyanide gas'." Duririg the summer season, Deininger is busy down in the lowland fields where cut'flowers, mainly gladioli, are grown. The land also supports a big vegetable garden for the Deininger clan and a plot of field corn. Deininger laughs over the accommodations which must be made with nearby marauders. "We have to raise enough-sweet corn to fill up the damn racoons and then have enough for ourselves." ' Deininger's association with plants comes naturally'. His father George had. a truck garden patch at the far end of South 18th Avenue, so that at age 10 Paul was -out peddling vegetables around town from a one-horse wagon. He went to work for florist John Bauscher when he was 16 years old and ' three years later in 1924 started in the greenhouse business for himself. Deininger and his wife, Olga, erected greenhouses one by one on the family property at the end of 18th Avenue before disaster struck in the De- PAUL DEININGER SR. pression. "Hell, everyone went broke, especially in the greenhouse business," Deininger recalls. "I stuck with it, but lost it in 1934. I'd put up all those houses and then I walked away from it. I was sick and couldn't work 18 hours a day.",, Deininger and his wife started their downtown floral shop in 1933 in the same location where it is today. Business was fitfull in those money-scarce .days. Four families would often pool funds.to buy a $2 spray for a funeral. In 1935 Deininger took over a small northside father-and-son greenhouse business and -began the climb out of, economic ruin,, v : In the earlier years in the greenhouse, Deininger would raise quantities of carnations 1 and mums' for the Another Healthy Crop From Whence IThe Gladiola Blossoms Spring wholesale trade, but Jhose days are past. The specialty greenhouses have taken over those functions and Deininger respects their products. Personally, he considers the "good old" carnation his flower choice, "Almost any color is nice, but there is the Mamie Eisenhower, a whjte one with a fringe of:red that's my favorite." * Never a flower breeder, Deininger likes to try out the new varieties, but never had time to experiment. He rates the hybrids much easier to grow, plus offering more graceful flowers. These, days Deininger steers clear of the floral shop, realizing it is in the capable hands of his sons, Cal and George. With a twinkle in his eye's, Deininger confided "I was too good-hearted down there. I'd give everything away. You've got to charge and make collections." The years are/ catching up with Deininger and his wife, who last month observed their golden wedding anniversary. Mrs. Deininger was a mainstay for years in the floral shop, but spends less time there now. Her husband now takes time off-for an afternoon snooze, which he attributes, along with some beer drinWng, for the extra poundage on his six-foot, one-inch frame. Grandson Paul Jr. lives next to the senior Deiningers and'seems destined to take over the growing end of the family business. Six days a week he devotes time to the greenhouse. The call of the Canadian wilds for fishing trips is now history for Deininger, he said, but in the same breath he says he has no yen to migrate to California or Florida for the winter months. "Freeport has been good to us," Deininger declares. And he ready to move along with the plant growing trends. "We're growing terrariums and hanging baskets and we never did that four or five years ago," he said, nodding toward the suspended pieces in one glass house. "We've got to keep up with what the people want." Freeport Journal-Standard, Weekender, Saturday-Sunday. July 12 13, 1975

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