A Rose is a Rose For a 56-Year Marriage

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A ROSE is a rose and is sometimes a chrysanthemum. When our first wedding anniversary came around so long ago, I brought my vivacious bride a single symbolic rose, promising her to do better each year she obeyed me implicitly. Thus began the tally of the roses, and when the florist delivered the annual box she could look in and count how many years it had been. This prevailed until we decided to put up a greenhouse and become florists ourselves and the values changed somewhat. Well, she would pass the twelvemonth picking the thorns off roses to make them ready for customers, and there was no great novelty in a vase of roses on her anniversary. It was when we approached our 25th that the splendid idea of a rose a year collapsed amongst the facts of the business. We were maybe three hours away from the wholesale flower market in Boston, so I could arise before daylight, be at the market when it opened at 7:00 a.m., and have my load back in Maine by mid-forenoon. We grew some things, but not roses. The Boston flower market had its stalls in an odd building on Tremont Street that had been built to house a cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburgh. When the vast canvas was cut in sections and taken on a national tour, the building was available and nearly all of Boston's posie business occupied this circular landmark. That was then - things have changed.

We didn't sell too many roses, so I'd get only a hundred or so at a time, and they came by the ``sheet,'' a sheet of roses having a count of 25. Four sheets would cost me about $10, and there arose something different about buying anniversary flowers wholesale. But that's the way it was, and when our wedding anniversary approached I'd get an extra sheet of red roses and fix the right number for my annual offering. So when our 25th anniversary approached and I came to 23, and then 24, I'd fix 23, and then 24 roses and I'd have two, or one, left over. These were stuck in the rose bucket in the cooler and worked off in corsages, so we never really lost any money on them. For the 25th I came out even, but for the 26th I bought two sheets and had 24 roses left over.

The next time things came out even was for the 50th, but I got yellow roses that year to make my golden tribute, and it was at 51 that I again had 24 roses for speculation. I submit that enamoration and husbandly regard can be tar-nished in the considerations of trade.

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Reference above to chrysanthemums was meant as a dramatic window. One year we found somebody to milk the cows and water the carnations, and we made a leisurely trip around the Gasp'e of Qu'ebec. The morning I realized 'twas our anniversary again we were in the South Shore town of Rimouski so I found a parking space and began a prowl. There wasn't a rose in Rimouski. ``Rose'' is a word that comes out the same in all places, so mine was not a language problem. One man said, ``In Montr'eal, perhaps, but Rimouski, non.'' So I opted for chrysanthemums, and came back to the automobile with a bundle of pompons, all white and long ``pickled'' and I handed them to my gal with, ``Here, Love, are your roses, and Happy Day!''

``Oh!'' she cried in ecstasy, ``aren't they lovely!'' The pompons adorned our motel rooms before they went completely brown along about Bonaventure, and they were spoken of as ``roses'' all the way. The first time we checked into a motel with them, she said to the rooming clerk, ``Aren't my roses lovely?'' He looked at me with dubious eyes, but to her he said, ``Certainment!'' The next year I went back to red roses.

For our most recent anniversary, which was the 56th, she offered me some sound judgment. ``Look,'' she said, ``this rose is a rose is a rose stuff has faded on the desert air. When roses were 25 cents and I had long hair all that was great fun. I just saw roses from Chile advertised at three bucks a throw, and nobody loves anybody that much. This time, you call the whole thing off and get me another sprig of mums.''

I didn't. I looked around and decided on a potted Alp Violet that had a lot of buds and should last quite a while, and then I got her a can of orange-colored tennis balls, just for fun. When we were first acquent we played tennis some, but one of her dogs chewed up her bat-thing and we took up cribbage. So she thanked me for ``my lovely roses,'' and she laughed over the foolish tennis balls, and the string has run out on our anniversary roses. Chile priced itself out of my happily married market.

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