The Golden Cattleya
In 1953, Jimmy Carter left a promising Navy career to run the family peanut farm in Plains, Georgia. Ten years later, he launched his first political victory by winning a seat in the State Senate. By 1971, he was Governor. His humble beginnings contributed to the public’s perception of Carter as a ‘Washington Outsider’ and helped him win the White House in 1976.
Richard Nixon’s victory in the 1968 Presidential election was the culmination of a political career that had seen the Californian rise through the ranks of the House of Representatives, Senate, and Vice Presidency. His wife, Pat, was always at his side, attending his speeches, handing out flyers, and working the crowds through each of his eight campaigns. She and Dick were characterized as a team – at a time when most political wives stayed in the background.
THELMA CATHERINE ‘PAT’ RYAN NIXON
Having won the greatest war of the 20th century, President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 ushered in 8 years of calm and stability not seen in the United States for 50 years and, in the process, opened the Golden Age of Cattleya Orchids. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was the symbol of prosperity and elegance and she loved cattleyas. She was rarely seen in public without her corsage of 2 or 3 cattleya flowers during her husband’s entire two terms.
John F. Kennedy was only 43 years old in 1960 when he became President of the United States, and he introduced a feeling of youth and excitement into the White House. His two young children were always underfoot and his young wife, Jacqueline, age 31, was a fashion statement not only in this country but overseas as well. Kennedy’s administration became known as
Camelot – the mythical realm of King Arthur’s famous Round Table and both Republicans and Democrats embraced his policies. He gave America a new aura of greatness when he announced that he would send astronauts to the moon.
Betty Ford and her husband, Gerald, were eagerly looking forward to retirement following his 13 successful terms as a Congressman from Michigan. The plan changed following a series of unlikely events which elevated Mr. Ford first to Vice President and then to President. Within that eight month period, Betty Ford found herself First Lady of the United States.
A young man, barely 16 years old, stood in the vestibule of Edith Myers large stone residence on Spring Avenue when I arrived to see her orchids. The vestibule was piled high with large white boxes - each containing a corsage of a Cattleya mossiae flower. A few boxes even had corsages with two flowers.
One of my favorite times of year is early summer, not because the sun is at its brightest then, or because the days stretch lazily into long warm summer evenings, but because this is when my favorite Cattleya species, Cattleya warscewiczii, blooms.
As the newness of spring begins to wane and the summer sun smiles down from its place high in the sky, we find ourselves with a greenhouse full of the lovely Brazilian Cattleya warneri. This delightful species provides a display of lavender and purple that rivals and is reminiscent of its autumn-flowering sister from Brazil,Cattleya labiata. Were it not for their wide difference in blooming season, the flowers of one could easily be mistaken for the other.