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Growing Up At Behnke’s

Behnkes History
Rose Behnke with her children, Roland, Sonja and William (Albert came years later)

I often write about the making of memories, and this time of the year they seem to come more often. So many things can trigger memories, old photos, a certain song, the smells of something wonderful cooking in the oven, they all bring memories. I love creating new memories but lately I have enjoyed going over old memories with my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling.

Mom loves talking about growing up in Beltsville in “that old shack that Dad built,” Dad being my grandfather, Albert Behnke. The other day when talking and looking over the many photos we have that my grandmother Rose Behnke took, she started smiling as she recalled all the good times they had ice skating on the ponds that used to be at the nursery. That of course brought up my memories of those ponds, and how much trouble my brother and I would get into when we would take old cardboard boxes and slide down the hill and over the ice.

At that time, we had ducks and swans and the ice had to be broken for them so we were not to go out on that pond.  Amazing to me that the memory for me was the joy of sliding down that hill and not of the punishment we got when our mother found out!

Growing up on the nursery was one big adventure for my mother and also for me! I have this book we have been filling out, To My Daughter, With Love: A Mother’s Memory Book .. it’s all about her memories of her grandparents in Germany, her mother, herself and of course me! Take time during the upcoming season and sit still and write down your very favorite memories. Add a photo or two and one day your children or grandchildren will say to you, “Tell me about this picture.”

Posted by: Stephanie Fleming

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Would love to be able to forward this to my lifelong friend, if I knew how. She came to live in Greenbelt in 1937, same year I did, and we came to live in the same row of houses for many years.

    Now we are both in our 80s and she lives in Annapolis. She was always a big patron of Behnke’s (like me) and would enjoy the photo and story of the olden days, I know. (I still live in Greenbelt.)

    Any way to do this?

    An especially Happy New Year from me to you–

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