Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dr. Bob and Flora

Dr. Bob and Flora

The speech given by Oliver Hull, Jr. (a/k/a Cosmo) at the Saltaire Garden Club’s Annual Fall Flower Arrangement Contest in the mid 1990’s.

“I wasn’t quite sure what to talk about this year, but I wanted to continue with the theme of last year’s, which was how my father developed his passion for flowers. Then someone suggested I talk at this year’s Fall Falderal about Dr. Bob and Flora.

Now why bring up that tawdry scandal after so many years? Certainly, Dr. Bob didn’t want it brought up again, and Flora’s family had paid me a great deal of hush money to forget it, but I figured-What’s a couple of tarnished reputations. This is the Saltaire Garden Club annual Fall Falderal.

The story goes back many years to when Dr. Bob first entered college. Some of you may not know, but Dr. Bob’s first line of study was not medicine, but Botany, and it was in his first semester Botany 101 class that his and Flora’s eyes first met. They immediately knew they both had a passion for the same thing. Flora was the daughter of the Professor Emeritus in Botany at Edinborough. He was one of the pioneer’s in propagating exotic hybrids, which he grew in his greenhouse. Dr. Sheim wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps, devoting her life to Botany.

At first, it all started rather innocently, with late night study sessions on cross-pollination, the growing of rare plants for use as aphrodisiacs and walks at night looking for the night-blooming primrose.

As the semester went on, Dr. Bob’s passion for Flora grew, as did hers. Eventually, their ardor grew so intense that they would sneak off to her father’s greenhouse and she would show Dr. Bob what previously had been some of the most rare and unseen pieces of flora. Finally, one moonlit night, they snuck off for the greenhouse, but Flora’s father being suspicious, followed. He could only hear muffled voices inside. Things had come a long way since their early discussions of pistils and stamen. Flora said to Bob “I have a Euonymus Alata for you tonight,” to which Bob replied: “I just want to see your Lobelia again.” With that her father burst in and yelled: “I heard what you said. I’ve caught you, you cad!” Nothing Dr. Bob could say or do could convince Dr. Sheim that his intentions were purely honorable and in the interest of his love for Botany.

Dr. Sheim, wishing to spare his daughter from ever again having to cause such a blemish to the family name, sent her to a remote research facility in Antarctica, limiting here research solely to the asexual reproductive methods of lichens.

Dr. Bob, on the other hand, fell into a deep depression, drowning his sorrows for 6 months with Peter’s Solution (10-15-10). When he finally resurfaced, he had lost his love for Flora, and decided to turn his attentions to Fauna. So the sordid tale goes.

By the way of a coda, Flora and Fauna were both seen again years later. As Jack Arnoff tells how he got to be a member of this fine club …

Flora Sheim later went on to start her own line of shoes.

Saltaire Garden Club Editor's Note II:
The story above was one of the speeches I gave at the Saltaire Garden Club's annual Flower Arrangement Contest. My father, Oliver Hull, won the first two Contests, and as a result, the Board banned him from entering any more exhibits, and made him a permanent judge. To assuage his pique, the Board also allowed him to make speeches at the annual Fall Faldoral.
Toward the mid 1990's, my father was in failing health, and I would present the speeches he wrote, and after his passing, I took over giving the annual speech. They were always 'Tongue in cheek', but also were always related to horticulture and flowers. One year in the late 90's, the annual Fall Faldoral was scheduled on the same day as Dr. Bob's birthday. The day before, I was drawing a complete blank when Virginia O'Brien suggested the theme be Dr. Bob and Flora. The following morning, as I was standing in the shower, I experienced divine inspiration, and a few hours later, the story was written.-Cosmo O.

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