Fifty Years Ago This Year
Reflections on 1959

Ken Cobb
AHS Archivist/Historian

Hubert Fisher
President Hubert Fischer

The Society began 1959 with $8,600 in the bank of which $4,500 was earmarked for its scientific pursuits (the Joe House Memorial Fund). The year began with 2,708 members and rose about 150 above that, falling short of the president's optimistic goal of reaching 3,000 by year-end. President Hubert Fischer noted the "splendid growth and enthusiasm of the State and Local Societies," but he was disturbed that only a very small number belonged to AHS. His goal was for 100% - pretty much the goal as that of the modern era.

Besides the new president, there were two major changes in staff leadership. Laura Gayer replaced Peggie Schultz as editor of The Hemerocallis Journal; and Olive Hindman replaced Daisy Ferrick as Secretary.

Washington, D.C., hosted the first of its two national conventions. Because it rained during the Friday tour, the Saturday tour was rearranged so that guests could re-visit some of the gardens a second time. Convention planners of the modern era would cringe at the thought of trying that maneuver! Saturday morning consisted of a half-day Daylily Institute - educational speakers. One speaker, Everett Myers of Bowling Green State University, addressed new breeding angles for daylilies. Naturally he posed the age old question of why can we not convert yellow daylily pigment to "gorgeous peacock blue." Interestingly, he suggested that the lessons learned in controlling the direction of a daylily's metabolism might ultimately lead us to figure out how to re-build defective human genes. Fifty years later we still do not have a blue daylily, but luckily we are solving the more important human issues, which Myers predicted.

The President's Cup was won at the 1959 Washington National Convention by David Hall's Hemerocallis 'George Cunningham' (see photo). Mrs. Cunningham was there to accept on behalf of Mr. Hall.

Both the Stout Award (not yet a medal) and the Popularity Poll (not yet a medal either) were won by H. 'Salmon Sheen' (Ophelia Taylor). The Poll had not yet been named for David Hall as of 1959.

Several exciting actions were taken by the Board of Directors to include:

  • voting $50 to share a double booth at the World Flower and Garden Show in Chicago with the Iris, Daffodil, and Chrysanthemum Societies. Each society shared time running the booth. (See photo below)
  • reporting a successful planting of a test garden in Rotterdam, Holland, for an upcoming International Horticultural Exhibition.
  • approving, effective in 1960, the division of AHS Region 5 (GA, NC, SC) such that NC and SC would become the newest (and still the youngest at present) AHS region – Region 15.
  • approving a drawing from which the firm of Medallion Arts, Inc. would make a die for producing medals for the three major Society awards (Stout, Farr, and Fischer). These medals would be retroactively given starting in 1960 and are still given to the present date.

Chicago Flower Show Image

See 50 years ago for 2008 here.

© Copyright 2009 by the American Hemerocallis Society, Inc.