David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Norris Dahlia Gardens


Last week, Family Stories author Caroline shared a newspaper photograph of her grandfather holding a rose with 63 inch stem. It reminded me a an article that I have about my own grandfather, Leland Norris.   This photograph appeared in the "John Montgomery, Farmer" supplement of The Dayton Journal on Tuesday 6 October, 1936.   The caption underneath the photo reads, "In the above photo Leland Norris of the Norris dahlia gardens is shown working with his plants.  The particular variety he is inspecting is the Jane Cowl.  In the lower picture is shown the Full Moon, a yellow variety."  (click on the pictures to see a larger version)

My maternal grandparents lived on the west side of what is now Kettering, Ohio.  Though not a farm, they had enough land to raise a nice garden to help sustain the family through the depression.  While he worked at the National Cash Register Company, my grandfather also found it necessary to devise other ways of making money to help feed his family of 6 children, his wife, and his mother.   One of these ideas was to raise dahlias for sale. One would think that during the depression, you wouldn't be able to find anyone who could afford to spend their money on flowers, but luckily, my grandparents lived quite close to the "affluent" area of Oakwood, which was located just a few miles from their home.  Many of his customers seemed to be residents of that area.
Growing up I had heard talk of his "dahlia" fields, but when I found this newspaper article, I could see for myself how extensive the business was.  I had never heard the term "Norris dahlia gardens" until I read the caption on the article, but it must have been known as that at the time.  I don't know how long he had the gardens, but I do know that he had quite a "green thumb" and in his yard grew vegetables, grape vines, and flowers of just about every type imaginable.  Unfortunately, the "green thumb" is one family trait that wasn't passed along to me.  But, isn't it nice that when I see something beautiful, like dahlias, I think of my grandpa?  I think that is one of the nicest legacies he could left me.

3 comments:

  1. This is a great legacy and how terrific to have found this newspaper article. I was down in the Dayton area this summer for a couple of days and remember Kettering.

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  2. I admire their courage in being very enteprising during the depression, they were very creative. A great legacy story indeed

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  3. Thank you Lindalee and Sanjay. They had to work so hard to sustain their family; and they didn't complain!

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