The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Mark Simonson

September 7, 2013

Oneonta Federated Garden Club celebrates 75th anniversary


As many of us are highly aware of it at this time each year, ragweed is a leading cause of hay fever. How successful that campaign fared remained uncertain that year.

While World War II was well underway, the club in 1943 emphasized the need for and gave advice to many on planting Victory gardens in the city. Many grew their own fruits and vegetables, so farms could grow foods necessary to help the war effort overseas.

In the fall of 1943 about a dozen window displays downtown showed crops and flowers harvested, as part of the “Federated Garden club Victory club Victory harvest show.”

A Star article reported, “One window featured Uncle Sam’s familiar hat overflowing with the fruits of the earth, while another showed a sailor dummy looking with satisfaction on the produce from someone’s Victory garden.”

A more visible project the Garden Club got involved with was in 1965. Many may remember a large rotunda that existed on the upper level of Huntington Park. It had been built in 1914 and after all those years had deteriorated to a point beyond saving. The rotunda was demolished, and once the debris was cleared the area was seeded and many Pinksters were planted by the club.

More recent projects have been regular plantings of flowers in the Main Street business district, after the large round planters were introduced with the new design of the streets and sidewalks in 1980. The club also assisted in the creation of Maple Street Park, at the corner of Maple and State Streets in the early 1990s. This formerly was a paved playground across from Old Main and the Bugbee School.

When the Garden Club started in 1938, membership was exclusive and by invitation only. Current members of nearly 20 years each, Marilyn Ball and Fran Bliven, can recall when joining was still by invitation. That requirement has long since been abandoned.

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Mark Simonson

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