Flowers a Love Story


After many years of having to explain myself by phone or in person to a florist that my real name was indeed Flowers, I decided that there was a story in the experience. Pondering one day while visiting a friend on Cape Cod, I came up with the idea of telling a love story utilizing florist receipts and the notes or letters that usually accompany the bouquet or plant sent. The genre of this kind of story telling is an "epistolary novel."

Returning to New York where I was living at the time, I started to construct the boy meets girl the plot. I also began to do some research. I found that there was a language of flowers. Each flora has its own poetic meaning. The yellow acacia represents a secret love. Tulips refer to fame. The wood sorrel joy. The zinnia reflects thoughts of absent friends. Shakespeare's references alone filled many volumes. My project took on an even larger scope, not only to tell the love story through the flowers, but to use the most appropriate genus according to the language of flowers. And just what did a receipt look like fifty years ago? After talking to several florists in the City I discovered the John Henry Company in Lansing, Michigan had been supplying vouchers for the industry for years. I contacted them and they sent me some original facsimiles as well as more modern versions.

It seemed as if more questions were arising the deeper, I got into the project. What did a dozen red roses cost in 1935? How were flowers most often sent? When did FTD and Teleflora come onto the scene? How were they paid for? Were there credit cards? I decided to work on the plot of the story first and answer those questions later. The story would not be a told in a narrative. The reader would only get to see the receipts and the accompanying messages. Yet there was a lot of information from the receipt itself. The message would provide the emotional connection with the plot. This device left much to the reader, and I had to make sure enough hints and clues were given so the reader could follow the story. The project was becoming a real story and I was having fun putting it together hoping the reader would be having fun reading it as well. After three months of research, gathering old and new receipts and finishing the story line, I returned to Indianapolis. My mother gave me some helpful suggestions and my niece drew illustrations in a 17 in x 14 in sketchbook. A first draft of what I perceived as a colorful coffee tabletop book was done.

When reading Flowers take it slow and easy. Try to absorb all the information that is provided and enjoy the artwork. Let your mind and imagination ask some simple questions. Just like a newspaper reporter or Joe Friday of Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am." Who? What? Where? When? Why? Now look at the first receipt and see what you can find out.

Who: There are seven whos. The florist, Ralph Loftus, is located at 1306 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. (He doesn't have a zip code.) We find a Mrs. Davis. Something is being sent by her to a Mrs. Marjorie Hunter at the Boston Lying-In Hospital. Mrs. Davis does not have an address. A closer inspection of the receipt reveals Betty Davis, Tom Davis, Marge, Fred, and Deborah.

  • What: What has happened here is an arrangement of flowers has been sent by someone through a florist to someone else. It cost $5.00 and there was a 25-cent delivery charge.
  • Where: This all happened presumably in Boston. However, we cannot be certain since there is no address for Mrs. Davis. She does though have an account with the florist, Mr. Loftus. Neither are we sure where Marge, Fred, Deborah, and Mrs. Marjorie Hunter live, but it is presumed in Boston.
  • When:When: This all happened on April 22, 1935.
  • Why: Let us ask the question why were the flowers sent? Reading the enclosed card with the arrangement implies that there was a birth and the baby's name is Deborah. Simple!

Now let us put this all together and see what we have. The seven who are only five. Marge and Mrs. Marjorie Hunter are one in the same as well as Betty and Betty Davis. Mrs. Hunter's husband is named Fred. Their newborn daughter is Deborah. The Hunters and Davis' are good friends. They all live in Boston. April 22 was a beautiful spring day. These are not poor families we can presume as poor families would most likely not have charge accounts at a florist shop. $5.25 during the depression was a lot of money to say the least. It was probably a larger arrangement.

Let us make some more assumptions. What is the address of the Boston Lying-In Hospital and why isn't it on the receipt? The receipt's message is written under the card section. Whose handwriting is on the receipt? Is it Mrs. Davis'? Was there actually a card? What were the mechanics? Simple. Remember: a little common sense, some imagination and throw in some deductive reasoning.

Mrs. Davis called her friend Ralph Loftus the florist. She ordered the flowers on the phone. The receipt was made out by whoever took the order. No address was needed for the hospital because they send flowers to the hospital all the time. A more smartly written card was prepared by the florist and enclosed with the arrangement. The Davis family has an account with the florist and charged the amount and other pertinent data was transcribed to a billing file of some sort which has the address of the Davis'.

The next receipt. It is under the first. We will build upon what we already know. Professor Sam Midland at Harvard, probably a friend or relative of the family is sending Mrs. Hunter some flowers too, daisies in fact, and he has written a little poem. (An English professor no doubt.) Cute, but what else have we learned from the poem? Deborah was born in the early morning on the 22nd and she has at least one brother.

There are a lot more questions coming on: Where did this receipt come from? Is it authentic? Where did the author find these receipts? Did these events really happen 80 years ago? Or is this all a hoax? Is this fact or fiction? What is going on here? What kind of book am I reading?

Turn the page please!
It takes less than a minute to read the first page. Depending on the reader, however, a closer analysis takes much longer as the reader's imagination grows. If the reader has gotten the gist of the epistolary story with the instructive clues, he or she has not only figured out what is going on, but hopefully have fun!

Flowers a Love Story provides hours of entertainment and reading. It has a most unique and happy ending. Enjoy!

Jack Flowers