February 1954 -A Business That Was built on a Gardenia and a Memory – By: Mrs. Hattie Winn
In 1943 I visited my son, Lt. Harold Winn, who was stationed at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. The Gardenias were in full bloom and I especially admired a large bush which grew near the officer's club. Harold picked three of the blooms from the bush and presented to me. I cherished these blooms and brought the back to Marion with me. When I got home, I planted the gardenias. They grew and thrived and I was so proud of them. As I watched them grow I thought of my happy visit to Harold, little did I realize it would be my last visit to see him.
He went overseas in July 1944, where he was killed in action near St. Lo France. I was grief stricken; I felt as if my whole world had tumbled in. I was on the verge of insanity. I felt as if I had nothing left to live for. It wasn't fair to my family. That summer the little gardenia plants died from lack of care, but the memory of them lingered in my heart.
On day I wrote a letter to the commanding officer at Camp Wheeler, I told him about the Gardenias Harold had give me, how I planted them and they grew, but after the sad news of Harold's death, from lack of care the plants died. I asked him to sent me a couple o f cuttings from the bush as a memorial to Harold. At first, I didn't mail the letter because I though he would say "oh that is just another sentimental mother," and would throw the letter away. About three weeks later, on a sudden impulse I put the letter out for the postman. Before I had time to change my mind, it was gone. Three or four days later I received a letter from the commanding officer saying he was going to send me the entire bush, and it would be shipped by truck from Camp Wheeler.
It came by Army truck and accompanied by two officers, who presented to me the gardenia bush weighting about 15 pounds. It was a beautiful plant and I was so overcome I could hardly realize my wish had been granted. For this was more than I had expected. It was really too large for my sun porch, so I purchased a small greenhouse where it continued to grow and bloom.
In the spring my friends urged me to get some potted plants. I did and in a short time I added three more sections to my little greenhouse. Little did I realize the gardenia bush would open a new way of life for me.
I began to think things over and to realize I was only one mother among thousand of others who had suffered the same great loss. I kept trying to find myself, and I did. I soon found I could help others in their sorrows and that I could bring happiness, beauty and consolation to those who needed it through the beauty of flowers. I didn't feel sorry for myself anymore.
I built a small brick building connecting it to my greenhouse which is now known as the Cottage Flower Shop. I enjoy a nice business. It gives me something to do and think about, and I am happy because I know Harold would want it that way.
This is the home of George and Hattie Winn. Her Cottage Flower Shop was built to the left of the house, you can see a potion of the front of it in the left of the picture. Mrs. Winn died in 1984 at the age of 97 years.
I'm sure many Crittenden Countians remember the Cottage Flower Shop and in later years it was moved to a different location, and was the Cottage Flower and Gift Shop, run by her daughter, Vonelle Winn Sturgeon.