By Arlene Oliver
When the Three Village Garden Club decided they wanted to present a history of the club for their 90th Anniversary Celebration, they started a scavenger hunt that unearthed priceless treasures. The members searched their attics and basements and turned to older friends and members. They found original minutes from the start of the club, as well as ancient photographs and newspaper articles from the 1920s,1930s, and beyond.
These sources told the story of a group of women who had just gotten the right to vote in 1920, and were now ready to take the bit in their teeth and tackle the problems they confronted in their community.
They were a diverse group of women. Some were used to wealth and privilege and social status. But many were ordinary village women, who cajoled their husbands into plowing up a vegetable plots and replacing them with flower gardens. They all took great pride in using their voices to tackle the issues of the day.
Some of these issues involved community beautification, such as planting flowers and trees in public spaces and removing unsightly billboards that proliferated on roads in an early advertising fever.
But they were also concerned with the plight of the unemployed during the Depression, the institution of garbage removal and making safe public water available to the community. During World War 11, they engaged in War Relief efforts, grew Victory Gardens and manned the Lighthouse to watch for German planes.
After the war, the club focused on spreading the love and knowledge of gardening. They worked on wildlife conservation, environmental issues, and supporting students interested in these areas through scholarships to college and environmental camps.
As the years rolled on, the TVGC partnered with many other non-profit groups such as the Guide Dog Foundation, the Veterans Home, and Kings Park Hospital. Through their World Gardening Program, they supported indigenous people in the Amazon and helped provide safe drinking water through organizations in Africa and the U.S.
Through its membership in the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, the TVGC is part of a larger community of dedicated gardeners in New York State. FGCNYS is very effective in promoting knowledge of gardening, horticulture and environmental awareness. The Three Village Garden Club is proud to have been cited by this parent group for its outstanding work toward these goals.
In 2019, our club is still made up of enthusiastic and hardworking members who are engaged in changing the world for the better, while quietly cultivating their own gardens.
The spirit of the roaring twenties will come alive on Sunday, Oct. 20 when The Three Village Garden Club invites the community to its 90th anniversary celebration, “Welcome to 1929,” at The Bates House, 1 Bates Road, Setauket from 3 to 6 p.m. Guests will enjoy entertainment by musicians from Ward Melville High School; The Algorhythms, a barbershop quartet; and a dance demonstration by Arthur Murray Dance Centers.
Highlights from the club’s 90-year history will be enlarged on panels that will parallel global events and Elegant Eating will cater a wide variety of delicious gourmet food and dessert served with wine and non-alcoholic beverages. A roaring twenties theme will be highlighted by details in the decorations and guests are encouraged to dress in 1920s attire.
The cost of the event is $50 per person and reservations and payment must be made in advance by calling 631-751-2743 or 631-689-7186.
Arlene Oliver is a history enthusiast and member of the Three Village Garden Club.