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So Many Memories

From Stephanie

The other day, I spent some time at the nursery going through the tons of old records and photos that my grandmother Rose Behnke kept. Sorting out what to keep, what to donate or give away and what to just toss out was a project that had me smiling, laughing and, yes, a few tears fell too. We have years worth of scrap books into which my grandmother, then my mother, and apparently even Alfred — along with myself as a child — would take rubber cement and paste the weekly ads from the Washington Post/Star newspapers.

I have decided I am going to let go of them. I just cannot keep everything. A few years ago, one cousin took the book from the year he was born, and I took the actual ad from the day I was born. Maybe someone at the auction will think these are worth keeping and they will go to good homes. I don’t know. I found so many VHS tapes of old TV commercials and TV interviews so maybe someone will want them. Then there are the thousands of photos. Many from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I will be sharing some of those as we go forward.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Candace from the Violet Preservation Committee of the African Violet Society of America. One of their members remembered that Behnke hybridized African Violets in the 50’s. They hoped that while rummaging through old paperwork, if I found anything of interest I would consider sharing copies or originals with them. Would I? You bet I would. I love the idea of a record of some of what helped put Behnke’s on the map being saved. I only wish it would be someone in Maryland. But maybe the main society in Phoenix, Arizona is where they belong.

I had already donated a few of the record books on different violets that my grandmother developed and was hoping to find more. What I have found so far was another scrap book where each ad that was put in the monthly African Violet Magazine was saved along with some newspaper articles and a few notes. I will be taking some photos of what I found and will share them with Candace to see if it they something they would want. I will also donate the entire selection of African Violets Magazines that we bound and saved; maybe they will enjoy having that.

I am also planning on making another copy of the thank-you notes received from all the First Ladies that my grandmother sent “Welcome to the White House” violets to. We will also be auctioning off a copy of that book at our July 21st auction in Beltsville to benefit the Prince Georges County Police Young Explorers Post 600.

See you at the auction!

Behnke Nurseries


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.

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