Publisher passes on memories of Lewis' Flower Shop

Last week, I got a phone call from a friend, giving me a heads up that Lewis’ Flower Shop on Central Avenue in Ocean View was being torn down. I knew that it was only a matter of time. The property had been for sale, and it had been empty for so long. Another little piece of my childhood gone by the wayside.

I started thinking back to how many times I had gone there as a child with my dad to pick out the perfect geranium to give mom on Mother’s Day, or standing there, desperately trying to decide whether to buy tulips or hyacinths for Easter gifts.

I’m sure many of you did the same thing. It was the place were I got my flowers for the prom, the place you went to order flowers for a wedding, to send to someone who was sick or to send to someone’s funeral. It was a chronicle of many of our lives from birth to death.

That was long before the time. It was before the big chain stores. Many times you didn’t even pick up the phone. You drove there, and Mrs. Lewis would walk into the cooler and bring out some cut flowers for you to pick from. You would stand there and watch her as she did the arrangement for you on the spot, and you would walk out with it.

I can still picture the front greenhouse with the cactus and the African violets in the front on the left, planters lined up on a shelf on the right — all ready to be purchased for a gift — and the huge jade plant in the very back corner. It was there ever since I can remember. It had gotten so big that it couldn’t be moved, growing to the very top of the greenhouse.

I haven’t to this day ever seen one so big. They made cuttings from the jade and rooted them so that all of the jade plants that they sold were from this main plant. You could almost call it a tree, it was so big.

Years later, I was at the home of Diana, the Lewises daughter, and she had a bunch of jade plants. I asked her if they were from the giant jade, and she confirmed it. She gave me one, and it sits in my office, on the window sill.

When I was a teenager, the giant jade would flower, and Diana would always call me to let me know, so that I could stop by to see it while it was in bloom.

You see, I spent a lot of time in those greenhouses. Diana is one of my closest childhood friends. I would ride my bike to her house from Cedar Neck, and we spent many an hour playing in the greenhouses, running up and down the isles of flowers, going into the cooler on a hot summer day to cool off for a bit and even helping out. They grew many of their plants from seed and, in the late winter, Diana and I would separate the seedlings and put them into individual pots.

As I was telling our editor, Darin McCann, about the greenhouse and all my memories of it, he said, “So you have always had a love for plants since a very early age?” Well, I guess he was right, and I had never thought of it that way before. I do still love plants and gardening, and it probably got its start at Lewis’ Flower Shop.

So, thank you, Mr. and Mrs Lewis, for giving us all so many fond memories of your shop and for giving me a special love for flowers.