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



By: Georgiana McGill Hull

This is the true story of the Saltaire Garden Club. I know; I was there. It was, in fact, my idea. I am Georgiana Rose McGill Hull, formerly of 104 Marine Walk.

The month was September, the best time to be at Fire Island. My husband Oliver, Allen Aherne and myself were there, with Florence and Frank McManus at their house. It was a beautiful day- a Friday, I think- and I was on Marine Walk looking toward the bay when it struck me how beautiful the beach grass looked swaying in the wind. Then I noticed the pretty colors of Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy, sumac and the dainty flowers of Clematis. I said to all: “Let’s have a flower arrangement exhibit.”

That did it. For once, we all agreed and went to work on our arrangements. Oliver’s, I remember, was a few sprigs of beach grass in a narrow-necked glass bottle or vase; Frank’s was a piece of silvery driftwood with one flower on it; Allen’s was driftwood with a hole which he packed with seaweed. Oliver’s was titled “Windswept”; Allen’s “Jonathan’s House” (it was the year of the book “Jonathan Seagull). I don’t remember anything about my exhibit or Florence’s. I only know that Frank brought the silver cup with his exhibit, and neither he nor Florence knew where the cup came from, who won it or for what.

Now we needed judges. Since the ferry had just arrived, we grabbed the first two people who came down Marine Walk. They happened to be David Ludlow and Chip Hull. The winner: Oliver Hull with “Windswept.” There were four objections and complaints (there being four other exhibitors), but we all helped him celebrate.

With that the Saltaire Garden Club was formed, but it took a lot more than that to get it organized and going. There were many meetings- always at the McManus or Hull deck; always spontaneous, and always accompanied by martinis )I think we all drank Gin back then). Subjects varied, and even lost (which then required another meeting). But one rule was set: no one could win the cup two years in a row. Otherwise the winner would be permanently disqualified from exhibiting and made a life-time judge.

I don’t remember much about the second Exhibition. We might have invited a few other exhibitors, but I do remember that Frank’s entry was the same- except that he had two flowers instead of one.

Meetings continued the next summer, so much that we enlisted the services of Jeannie Jessop as secretary to record all the decisions and/or discussions. I remember at one meeting noticing that she had no notebook. I asked her “how come?’. She showed me a match book.

Saltaire Garden Club Editor's Note: The story above of the founding of the Saltaire Garden Club is the first of hopefully many posts on this Saltaire institution. the story of the Saltaire Garden Club has been crying out to be told. Much more to come in the near future.

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