Members of Belle Fleur Garden Club in Columbus celebrate the club's 50th anniversary by dressing as they may have in the 1960s, when the club was formed. They are pictured at a November celebration at the home of Patricia Blair. Photo by: Courtesy photo
December 23, 2017 10:09:25 PM
While not everyone may find turning 50 so much fun, Belle Fleur Garden Club is making the most of it. The Columbus club formed in 1967 with 18 members. It is thriving today with more than 40. Judy Livingston was the first president and has since then presided several times over the club's history in that capacity.
"We've celebrated all year long, and in the spring we'll have a chocolate and champagne reception that several members who have moved away will come back for," Livingston said of the milestone year.
Belle Fleur members marked their golden anniversary with a retro step back in time in November at the home of Patricia Blair at Old Waverly in West Point. Everyone was asked to come dressed as they might have looked in the 1960s.
"We had everything from teeny boppers to one member who wore her husband's leisure suit," Livingston said.
Charter member Gabie Nabors came as an expectant mother.
"They said dress as you were in the '60s," Nabors laughed. She recalled a club Christmas memory from the era.
"We were having a really fancy party at Jackie Waldrop's house, and I was about to be a mother. I had this beautiful green wool dress with pleats all around it. Back then, (expectant moms) had to have at least 10 yards wrapped around you," Nabors recounted. Unfortunately, all those pleats had to be ironed. Nabors accidentally scorched the top of the dress but showed the adaptability inherent in green thumbs who continually adjust to Mother Nature.
"I got out my thread and embroidered flowers all across the top and wore it," she said, adding that she savors memories the anniversary has prompted.
At the recent celebration, Livingston -- recreating the beehive hairdo she wore in the '60s --shared more club memories with the group.
"It was a vibrant history of Belle Fleur, and it brought lots of laughter," said Gail Laws. "Judy spent a great deal of time compiling the history of our beginnings. It was so informative and entertaining and really makes me value being a member."
The recap touched on early club support from Martha Bozeman, as well as community beautification projects, seminars and field trips members enjoyed over the years. There were box suppers, where husbands blind bid on boxed meals and dined with whoever brought it. There were tree plantings, tablescapes and flower shows to remember.
Virginia Branch is a new member of Belle Fleur, having joined this past fall. The Columbus native has lived elsewhere for about 30 years, but moved back about a year ago.
"I enjoyed hearing the funny stories they shared, seeing what their traditions are. It's just nice to see something that has lasted that long still going strong every year," Branch said.
"We all learn from each other, and it's really a very congenial group," said Livingston. "It really is a joy, a friendship that has lasted for 50 years."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.