This Sunday, May 12, we celebrate Mothers, always the second Sunday in May. It's a special day to honor our mothers or the person who was so important in a child's life.
When we were in the flower business, Mother's Day was the biggest day of the year. I bet you thought it would be Valentine's Day or Christmas. But no. I was surprised when we bought the shop and the owner told me how crazy busy this day would be. And she was right!
I'm writing a memoir about that first year in business, so I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what my first Mother's Day in 1976 was like. You can imagine being a newbie in the flower industry and being thrown into this whirl of activity.
Memorable Mother's Day 1976 by J.Q. Rose--Excerpt
Boxes of special Mother’s Day containers for the wired flowers service like Teleflora arrived. We didn't really receive wires, like a telegraph line. The orders were phoned in. Of course, there were no emails since the internet wasn't even on the horizon in 1976.
Like a kid at Christmas time, I reveled in unboxing the lovely vases that only Teleflora members could offer to their customers.
We were also members of Redbook and Florafax. I was a bit fearful of having so many wire services opening us up to delivering flowers from people all over the country. But they also allowed us to send flowers through florists located throughout the country. We kept a percentage of the sale and charged a service fee for the flower service.
The week of Mother’s Day, we had even more buckets of fresh flowers in the cooler than for any previous holiday in order to make arrangements for the anticipated sales. Colorful sweetheart roses and orchids for corsages also took up space. The cymbidium orchids created elegant corsages which could be made several days in advance because they held up so well out of water.
|Cymbidium orchids for Mom's corsage|
Image by Takashi Murakami from Pixabay
I quickly learned how to put an orchid corsage together by covering the wire with floral tape, forming a hoop with the covered wire and placing it behind the orchid to protect the fragile petals rather than piercing the stem with the wire.
Other flowers made into eye-catching corsages kept the secret that the poor flower was pierced and wrapped and twisted into that lovely balanced shape, but all the wicked piercings and twistings were covered with floral tape and leaves, so no one saw the behind-the-scenes torturing of the flowers that went into the design to become a delicate corsage.
In 1976 there were no big box stores selling corsages or plants and fresh flowers. No grocery stores or gas stations on the corner sold flowers. Florists were kings in the domain of supplying moms with a gift of flowers. Flowers were what you bought mom. Not a new Keurig coffee pot or Ninja blender. Not even jewelry. So you can imagine how that one day was so important to florists in order to make their money for the year because it was even bigger than the Christmas season.
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed as we went through Mother’s Day week and the piles of orders for delivery in time for Mother’s Day tested the strength of the clips. Yes, clips, not just one clip for the day. We had to grab several clips to hold all of the orders.
I separated the floral orders into separate piles-- potted flowering plants and hanging baskets, planters, fresh arrangements, and corsages. Bringing order to the piles soothed my ragged nerves a bit, and I felt I was contributing to helping with moving the order-filling along. Although we had worked nights before Saturday to try and get ahead of the orders, the work on the design table on the Saturday before Mother’s Day was daunting. I’d get the pile trimmed down, but Winifred kept taking orders! I remembered my floral design instructor’s words—“No matter if you have $50 worth of orders on your table or $500 worth, you’ll have them done by the end of the day.” I hoped he was right!
This memoir is not completed. I am looking for a title. Any ideas? Please leave a title or comment below. Thank you.
I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day, and even if you don't celebrate the day on Sunday, you can always say, "Thanks, Mom" any day.
|My Mom in 1956|
Thanks, Mom. Have a Heavenly Mother's Day!
To all Moms and those who were like a Mom to a child, have a relaxing Happy Mother's Day!
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I remember how exciting it was to be a real mother, my first Mother's Day. Not 1956! I'm impressed with that.
Interesting! I'm sure all those moms appreciated your hard work. What did YOU get for Mothers Day? I bet you didn't want flowers! :)
That's so interesting, JQ, and I get a real sense of your nerves and the sense of urgency. I hope you got to enjoy the day, too, as a mum! I like how you describe how to make a corsage. Are you putting other tips like that in the book?
Hey, Jacqui. You reminded me of that excitement that I felt too--being a mother on Mother's Day. Thanks.
Ha! I always went into the flower cooler and found whatever was left over and made me a corsage for mother's day.
Thanks, Helena. Yes, enjoyed that Mother's Day day for sure. But I imagine I was making notes on how to make the shop and deliveries more efficient! I have a few tips in the book, but maybe I should add a few more. I was so surprised when I got in the business at how those pretty corsages and wedding bouquets were made and all of the ugly wires and twists were covered so only the beauty of the flowers were revealed.
Wonderful article, J.Q. Did you often have leftover flowers that you couldn't sell? What did you do with those?
When I was a kid, it seemed like all of the mothers wore corsages to church.
Such an interesting life and time.
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