Kathleen Tripp grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Cleveland area in the 1970s. She and her husband lived in a farmhouse on Case Western Reserve University’s Squire Valleevue Farm in Moreland Hills and then spent time living in the Netherlands and traveling in Europe before moving to Cleveland Heights in 2002. In the following year she joined the Village Garden Club. She describes club activities including during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-21, the club’s admission of its first male member, and the controversy over plans to remove the Horseshoe Lake dam in the Shaker Lakes.
Tripp, Kathleen (interviewee)
Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:00] Alright, so today is August 19, 2021. It is sunny out. We are in Cleveland Heights, and I am with...
Kathleen Tripp [00:00:11] Kathleen Tillson Tripp. [spells her name]
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:21] Great. And I am Caitlen Cameron.
Kathleen Tripp [00:00:23] It's nice to meet you.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:24] Nice to meet you. And do you consent to being recorded?
Kathleen Tripp [00:00:28] Oh absolutely.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:30] Alright. Well, are you ready to get started?
Kathleen Tripp [00:00:32] Yes, please.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:33] Okay, so I guess I just want to start out with where were you born and what year?
Kathleen Tripp [00:00:40] Oh, well, I was born in a small town called Stratford, Connecticut, which is about sixty miles outside of New York City along the Long Island Sound, which meant that childhood was very much about living in a Cape Cod house with a father who was a very enthusiastic gardener and a mother who was a very enthusiastic cook. So together they comprised, I guess, what one might call a typical New England upbringing. And the kids spent the summers on the beach barefoot and innocent. And from that, Stratford, Connecticut, whose only fame to claim really is that it housed, it's now, it no longer exists, the only American Shakespearean theater in the country.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:29] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:01:31] Authentic or bona fide or whatever you want to call it. And it was really quite wonderful with all the actors coming into town in that sort of thing.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:38] Wow. So you've been there?
Kathleen Tripp [00:01:40] I grew up there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:41] Okay, but you've been in the theater and everything?
Kathleen Tripp [00:01:43] Oh, the actors used to come and teach in our schools.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:45] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:01:46] Or they would come into that little town so people knew one another.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:49] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:01:50] And they'd come into the little sort of diner-type restaurant in the center of town, have a grilled cheese sandwich and talk to everybody and that sort of thing. So, yeah, it was great fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:03] So you were there like grade school through high school?
Kathleen Tripp [00:02:08] I was. I left at 17 and I went to university, and I studied to be a teacher, and it was the outbreak of the Vietnam War.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:18] Mmm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:02:18] So I had a little bit of difficulty getting my qualifications because all the protests, all that... Well, all the professors were protesting. So you had to sort of really, you know, meet in a field or something. And finally, I did get the training that I wanted and all of that. And when I... Do you want me to keep going?
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:34] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:02:36] And after that, after that... And that was in New York State, and after that, I got my I went back to Connecticut to look for my first teaching job. But the jobs were given mostly to males who also had trained to be teachers, but wanted to have a deferment to not fight in the Vietnam War. So there weren't very many primary school teaching jobs available at the time. So I went to work in publishing for three years and it was the most fun I'd had ever because I'd never had a job and really, throughout all of my career, for the most part, with the few exceptions, didn't have a job which allowed me to travel, whereas the publishing job was great for that. So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:20] Really? So what did you do in the publishing job?
Kathleen Tripp [00:03:25] Well, because I was trained to teach small primary school children, I worked in the Education Department and they were publishing, within this small publishing company, they were... They had an education book, and it was our job to go out and sell them to the universities...
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:41] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:03:42] To be used in the courses. So we would go to large meetings, education meetings, and talk with teachers and talk with professors at universities who were teaching teachers and all of that sort of thing.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:58] Wow, that sounds like a fun job.
Kathleen Tripp [00:04:00] It was great fun. It was really very, very interesting. And then eventually the Vietnam War ended. Eventually. 1974 or whenever it was, and jobs opened up. And I decided that, you know, I had trained to be a teacher and by golly, I wanted to get to it. So I found a job in Connecticut and I stayed there for a couple of years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:21] Really? So was it hard, say like with the Vietnam War and everything going on, with it ending, like how did that impact you at all? Like your family?
Kathleen Tripp [00:04:35] It made me... Coming from a small town where it was fairly homogeneous, almost completely homogeneous, everyone was white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant to an awakening, a political awakening, that the world was a more complicated place. It was a kind of growing up experience, if you want to think of it that way, broadening in one sense, but also just realizing that the world was a different place than I had imagined. Well, in fact, the world was different, but so was I, if that makes any sense at all. And it, well, it affected a lot of people. It changed the way in which marriages were organized so that the divorce rate was very high during that period of time because people, women's lib and lots of other things were happening where people were starting to say, well, this isn't really what I want. It's just the only choice I had when I was 17.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:38] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:05:38] I've thought it through and I want to do something differently. And so it kind of blew open the way in which people lived and the assumptions that we had and the ones that we grew up with, which was very difficult on a lot of families.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:51] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:05:52] And society at large, I think. I'm not saying it wasn't worth it. I'm just saying that it was it happened. And it's part of our national story.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:01] It definitely changed a lot. And I think it's not always the time people talk about. They talk about it, but not as much, I think.
Kathleen Tripp [00:06:09] Well, and now as we're dealing with the Afghan circumstance and it's being correlated directly with our departure from Saigon, it brings back those memories, I think, in a way. And whether the correlation is legitimate or not, I don't really know.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:27] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:06:27] But I suppose everyone has to decide that for themselves.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:31] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:06:31] And we, of course, have to decide that nationally as well. But... Yeah, it definitely... It definitely changed things and made even lives in small towns very different. All of a sudden the world was opened up.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:51] Yeah. So, you changed over to be a teacher right after a publishing job. So was it still in your town or did you move somewhere else?
Kathleen Tripp [00:07:01] No, no. I moved to another part of the state. Connecticut isn't a very large state, but for a variety of personal reasons, group of friends and that sort of thing, we all came to the University of Connecticut and Storrs area, and we all got jobs in that area for whatever the reason. And so we as all single young people in our twenties lived there for a while. And I started a master's degree at the University of Connecticut. And several of my friends did as well. And then I met my husband there who was a professor on campus. And the story goes on.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:50] Oh, wow. So you met your husband there. Did, so did you live there with him and everything?
Kathleen Tripp [00:07:58] We just met there. We dated there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:01] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:08:01] We romanced there. But we quickly separated and fell in love and separated due to circumstances. John's tenure was denied, which was not a happy thing for him. And my job could have gone on, but I decided that I wanted to do something different. So I got a Commission of the Arts grant and I went off to Boulder, Colorado.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:29] Really!
Kathleen Tripp [00:08:31] Because I wanted to study the impact of national educational programs within the Indian schools and within Indian programs. So anyway, [crosstalk] so it was a one year... It was a one-year grant. John came to Cleveland and got an adjunct professorship at Case. So that's the Cleveland part of the story. So, we were both on soft money and whoever got the most... Whoever got a real job, because we decided that being apart was not an option.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:03] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:04] And the year apart taught us that. And so John got the job. So I moved to Cleveland and shortly thereafter, we were married.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:18] Okay. Was it hard to leave Boulder?
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:20] No, I was so in love.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:23] [Laughs] That's, okay. That's good to hear!
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:25] The adventure was over.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:27] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:28] And it was time for a different thing in life. I was 27.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:33] 27? Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:35] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:35] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:36] And moved to Cleveland when I was 28 and married at 28. Yes, that's right. That's the way it went.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:42] So did you live where you live now? Or where did you...
Kathleen Tripp [00:09:46] No, that's not that's a pretty long story, but I'll shorten it. John continued with his work at Case and it extended to some summer fellowships at NASA. In the meantime, we had nowhere to live and to be perfectly honest, not an awful lot of money.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:02] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:10:02] So we looked around and things, I think, some of the most important things in life happen serendipitously. You don't even know it's going on and it's happening. And we were going out to Squire Valleevue Farm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:18] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:10:18] Do you know it?
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:18] Mm-mm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:10:20] It's 500 acres of land that was given to Case Western Reserve University in 1920...
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:24] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:10:25] By Andrew Squire, who was a very wealthy attorney in the city. But it was given to the university with the sole purpose that it be used for educational pursuits for women as well as recreation...
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:42] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:10:43] For all students. And so we were walking along and we got talking to some people and said, you know, we were just about to be married and didn't have anywhere to live. [laughs] And, you know, and they said, well, do you see that house there? We said, yes. And it was an eleven-room farmhouse that Andrew Squire had built on the property. He had a mansion on the hill.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:05] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:06] But he'd built this farmhouse, simple clapboard farmhouse with eleven rooms on this 500 acres of land right on Fairmount Boulevard. And it had no one living in it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:20] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:21] Because it was too far from campus. And so... And students couldn't afford it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:26] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:26] And faculty didn't want to live there because it was, as I say, too far from campus. And we were delighted. So we moved into this eleven-room farmhouse, and John needed the facility because he had to work in an environment which was magnetic free...
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:41] Oh.
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:42] Because he was doing what I think simply is a precursor to the MRI.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:47] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:48] He and his colleague, David Farrell. Bobbie Farrell, have you interviewed her?
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:52] Yeah!
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:52] Well, her husband and John were colleagues...
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:54] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:11:55] And David was the experimentalist and John was a theoretician, a physicist. And they constructed this machinery and would bring patients out there and all of that. Anyway, that story goes on and on and on. But we lived there for eight years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:09] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:11] And... Do you want me keep going?
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:13] Yeah, go ahead.
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:15] Okay. And then John came home one day and said, Darling, would you like to go and live abroad? And we had a son by then. And I said, well, you know, it depends. Is it a place with clean water and good schools and all of that? He said, how about Holland?
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:34] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:34] I said, Delightful!
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:35] [Laughs].
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:36] When do we leave?
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:37] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:38] And of course, you know, we didn't have a lot of belongings at that point because, I mean, although we'd lived there for eight years, as you know, you quickly collect things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:45] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:45] And so off we went and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:47] What year was that?
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:49] 1985.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:49] 1985, okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:12:49] And so we packed up our... And John was British, so for him to go back to Europe was fine and dandy.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:59] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:00] And for me it was a huge adventure. And we thought for our son, European education would probably be a good idea. It would be broad. Not that we were unhappy with American education. We weren't.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:12] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:12] But life offers opportunities and you either take them or you don't for whatever circumstances as they are. So off we went and, excuse me, we moved to a 13th century village and then found a house and I went to work in the international schools. And John worked in a in a laboratory doing some research. No teaching.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:37] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:38] So and we lived there for seventeen years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:40] Wow! Oh my gosh.
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:42] It was fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:42] So, you, you only had, so you had...
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:44] We had one child.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:45] One child, and then he was raised over there. So, okay, tell me how he got back or at least...
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:54] Case.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:54] Case?
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:54] Case again.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:57] Really. Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:13:58] John, can you come and can you do some work? Yes, but I'm not teaching undergraduates, he said.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:04] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:14:05] It's graduate students or nothing. And so we did a bit of... John was about 65 at this point, was really not retiring because he was lively.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:15] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:14:15] And not really and didn't, actually never really did retire. He just kept working, just in different capacities, always research, always mathematical physics, which can very easily be done as a one-man business or, you know, can just be done...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:33] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:14:34] With a... He used to work on a brown paper bag or a beer mat where he said he did his best work, in a crowded cafeteria, which is bizarre but anyway, that's the way he was. And so then what happened? Yeah, so. Oh, we bought this house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:54] Okay, so you came back. So do you still have a place over there did you...
Kathleen Tripp [00:14:58] No, no we didn't. We had a house and we sold the house. And then we knew that we weren't going to move back there. We could certainly visit, but we weren't going to we were going to move back. We were going to come and whether we were going to stay in Cleveland or not. Now, that was another matter, but still.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:15] Okay, so we're back in Cleveland, and you moved in this house. I guess. So you, so were you teaching still or did you...
Kathleen Tripp [00:15:26] Yeah, I taught in the international school when we were there...
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:29] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:15:30] In the primary school. And, do you want me to talk about that?
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:35] Yeah. Well, I guess when you came back, were you still teaching at another school?
Kathleen Tripp [00:15:40] Yeah. Yeah, I was. I taught here for it. Oh, I don't know, maybe five or six or seven years. Something like that. I don't remember exactly. Excuse me. And then I retired and John and I spent about eight or nine years just traveling. So we just, you know, we had enough money and nobody needed to work. And so we said, well, let's just go. So we'd go to England for two months and come back and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:12] Wow. So where all did you go? Have you been to all the continents? I know...
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:15] No, no. We didn't do any far and wide. John traveled a lot for for his work.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:20] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:21] Conferences and things like that. So he would go to Asia and things like that. But no, we basically, when we lived there, we had a Volvo and we went around in a tent.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:34] Really!
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:35] And we just we just camped.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:37] That is awesome.
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:38] We loved it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:39] That's such a dream.
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:39] Yeah. It was wonderful. It was just wonderful. And we'd go through France. And so if people say, you know, if you've been to these big places and the answer's probably not. I mean, maybe here and there, we did a city, but mostly we were in the small towns in the countryside just messing around really.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:57] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:16:58] Just going around the chateaus or the churches or the wineries or whatever the case may be always with a swimming pool and some mini golf, you know, kind of thing. So we did that for, well, the twenty years. Seventeen, actually. And yeah. So and then after that we just, we'd travel from here in this house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:29] Oh, did you have a favorite place? Like a favorite town that you visited, like fond memories, when you were traveling?
Kathleen Tripp [00:17:36] Ooh, that's difficult. I would have to divide that by climate, I think. Warm weather climate, probably somewhere like Provence.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:45] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:17:47] And then over toward the, well, over toward the coast of France, all the way up to Brittany. Saint-Émilion in the south and toward the Spanish border, and then up the coast, I found the French Atlantic coast to be particularly fascinating, and particularly in the northern part where it was more regional, particularly in the food, and it was absolutely wonderful. Everything was, you know, regionally grown, and especially in places like Normandy where the cheeses were so exquisite and all that. And the wines, of course, and Italy, it's hard to beat.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:28] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:18:30] I don't know. We would stay up in the hillside towns in our tent and and then, you know, come down into Florence or whatever, whatever the other places were, we'd go to the museums and do all the tourist attractions if we felt like it. If not, and then, you know, catch a pizza or go back to the camp and cook or something or, you didn't takeaway in those... And of course, you wouldn't do that in a place like Italy!
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:54] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:18:55] Where food is paramount to the society. You know, food is life and living. And but I just speaking of that, I do remember one adventure. I don't know why this comes to mind. Just to underscore how much food is part of it all, we were driving along and we had the windows down in the car and we saw this woman with a sort of bow, wooden bow over her, over her neck and carrying two buckets. And she'd been out in the fields and she picked basil.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:27] Oh, wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:19:28] We put down the windows just to put down the window, so we allow her to cross the road. And as she went by, we could smell the aroma from this basil. [laughs] I mean, I don't know why I haven't thought of that in twenty-five years probably, but it was a pretty, you know, that kind of thing, little things like that. I just so, so important, I think, to the traveling experience, much more so than... We avoided four-star hotels. We couldn't afford them anyway.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:55] Mhm. And tourist traps.
Kathleen Tripp [00:19:57] But we didn't want them, didn't want any part of it. Because you don't meet anybody, you don't meet the people that live there or you don't spend time sitting in a small town square and tasting the local coffee from a Tuscan hill town or something like that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:15] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:15] But anyway, I could go on all day, as you....
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:17] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:17] I could be Rick Steves for you...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:19] Oh, no worries!
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:19] If you like.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:20] I studied abroad in Viterbo, Italy.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:23] Where were you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:24] But, Viterbo and...
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:25] I don't know where that is
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:28] So it's, I'm trying to think, it's in the middle of Florence and Rome and it's like right in the [inaudible].
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:35] So it's Tuscan or it's Emilia, no, Emilia would be in the north, that would be Venice,
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:42] It's Tuscany.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:42] Or Umbria would be there, would it not?
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:45] Yes. yes.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:45] So it was in Umbria.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:47] Yes. And it's...
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:48] Well, how old were you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:50] This was three years ago, I'm thinking.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:53] Oh, absolutely fantastic! And it changed you forever.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:57] Yes, yes.
Kathleen Tripp [00:20:57] The rest of your life, you'll never be the same.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:00] No.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:00] No.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:00] We saw Civita di Bagnoregio, it's like the Dying City, and it's just on this hill and one day it's going to disappear.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:08] So you saw it before it did?
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:11] Mhm. So it's, so like I said, I agree with you on all those experiences are invaluable and...
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:16] Completely.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:18] Small towns are way better than big tourist traps.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:21] Absolutely. But if you want to see if you want to see Michelangelo.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:26] Yeah. And you can go...
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:27] Then you must go to Florence and, and, or Paris to see Mona Lisa.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:33] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:35] It's only this big.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:36] Yeah. I want to see Paris. I never got to go.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:39] Oh. But that's a whole other thing.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:41] You will. Oh. How old are you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:44] Twenty-three.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:45] Oh you have a lifetime of adventures and they're all wonderful! On that score. Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:53] Can't wait. But I guess I should loop back.
Kathleen Tripp [00:21:57] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:59] Shouldn't talk that much about myself. But, so you left Holland and all of the adventures and came back to Cleveland, to this house...
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:07] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:07] Which is beautiful, so I guess I want to know how you got involved in the garden club.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:13] Well, that goes back to the people I mentioned the Farrells. And have you interviewed Susan Dahm?
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:20] No.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:21] Okay, she's in Pennsylvania.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:22] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:23] That's... Okay. You will. They are both physics wives.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:25] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:27] And friends. Very, very, very good friends. And they brought me in. They invited me almost upon arrival. And I worked, so, and the meetings are on Monday at lunchtime. So I would bow out on Mondays and have my lunch hour at the Garden Club meetings when I could.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:45] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:46] When I could. And it was through their invitation because you must be endorsed...
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:50] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:22:51] To join the club. You can't just walk in. But it's not snooty. The requirement is that you love gardening. That's it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:59] Yeah. Did you did you have a big garden when you joined or did you...
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:03] Well, we lived in this house and John and I were working on it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:05] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:07] We had a, well, I'll show you when we walk around. But when John was alive, we had a very, very large formal perennial garden in the back. And we used to have croquet parties and things like that...
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:18] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:18] In the back garden. And of course, it's too much for me now. And I can't... You'll see, I can't take care of what I've got.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:25] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:25] And this is a third of an acre, so it's not that huge, but it's big for a city house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:29] Oh, yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:30] And it's plenty once you start working in it
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:32] My garden's only like six foot, and it's already enough. I can only imagine a giant one in the backyard.
Kathleen Tripp [00:23:38] But you have a garden and that's a wonderful thing. That's, that's how... One way in which... A friend of mine once said it's how an adult person becomes a child. It's like a child with a canvas is an adult in a garden. Or I don't think I'm saying that quite as well as she did. But we paint in our gardens, I think.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:02] And experiment and try. Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:24:05] And we see it as a visionary blend of color and texture and senses and all of that. Seeing as you want to know about gardens, I thought I'd throw that in.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:18] Yeah, thank you. So you had this... You had this person who asked you to join. Was it like, were you scared, nervous to join?
Kathleen Tripp [00:24:27] I was very grateful because although I had lived in Cleveland before, coming back was different. Not just that I was different, but so is everyone else. We were all nearly twenty years older and children had gone and that sort of thing. And I had to reestablish myself in terms of friendships and fitting in, you know, so but I'm a churchgoing person, so I go to church like Ann Dawson and several other, not all, but several other people. So organizations like that became important, but not just for the social aspect, just because it's important to do something beyond just taking care of yourself. You have to embellish your knowledge and your experiences and your friendships and all of it. And so the Garden Club was a tremendous, tremendous place where that took place. Plus the story of the club, which I will not tell because you already know it, but the story lives on and changes, and the club has changed quite a lot.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:47] How do you see change? What did year did you join?
Kathleen Tripp [00:25:53] 2003.
Kathleen Tripp [00:25:55] So I came back in 2002 and Bobbie Farrell and Susan Dahm didn't let it go on too long, and said Okay, [makes a whistling sound] and invited me in. And I'm very grateful to them for having done so because it's a very, very vitally important part of my life on many, for many reasons, on many levels. The beauty and the commitment and the friendship and all of it. And the way the club lives itself with the way it is itself through the tree projects. And when we die, we plant a tree, but not in a sad way. It's a celebration tree, not a cemetery by any means. It's just... It makes us all so happy. And when we visit, we think of that person and it's such a good thing. And when I think about what I like to have as a memorial to my life and a tree is about as good as I can come up with.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:02] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:27:03] Makes sense to me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:05] It will be there hundreds of years, and it continues your legacy.
Kathleen Tripp [00:27:09] Well, and brings beauty. So it gives you something positive to stand on, something very firm, firmer than yourself in your own life. It's just a beautiful thing, and it's good for the environment as well. It helps to clean the air and it's just good, good, good. You go on and on and on and on and gives us all something positive to do and something positive to do with our money and all. It's expensive to look after trees.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:37] Yeah. How much do you think it is to keep up with at least one tree.
Kathleen Tripp [00:27:44] Ooh! We now have 40.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:45] I know. I know, so...
Kathleen Tripp [00:27:46] How much? Well, it costs a little bit more now than it used to because we don't do as much of the work ourselves and we're taking better care of the trees. We're more... So we hire more professional help to do. Have you heard this part of the story with all the things? Okay, so we, you must prune a tree, you must feed a tree, you must keep it clean, as it were, so that it can aerate and well then look nice as well. And so all of that we now pay for. The City of Shaker Heights mows the lawns for us, but no one will... No one will water a little bit that we have. So, we have been carrying over pots. Have you heard this?
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:37] Mm-mm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:28:37] We've been carrying over pots of water in the summer in the trunk of our car.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:42] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:28:43] Well, the ladies used, in the olden days used to take a bucket and go into the Horseshoe Lake when there was water in it and water the trees. So last summer we did this and it was very dry. This summer's very wet, so we haven't had to do this quite so much. I don't particularly enjoy this part of it all.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:03] I can see, yeah, that might be a little tedious.
Kathleen Tripp [00:29:06] Yeah, yeah. Just, just a little bit. But anyway, so I'm not sure where that leaves us. Oh so, so, but prior to that, we would basically just every five or so years spend a couple of thousand dollars and take care and take care of the trees. And at that point it might have been something like, oh I don't know, twenty, I don't know thirty. There were thirty-two trees for a very long time. And then as you know, we plant a tree when a woman dies. And with Covid we had, let's see, five women, I think. Yes, five women over two and a half years. So we planted five trees. Not that we plant one tree per woman, we usually do one tree per year for however many women have died. Anyway, that's perhaps too much detail, but that's just how we work it out. Otherwise [it] would be prohibitively expensive. A tree is about... A small cherry tree is about somewhere around five hundred dollars, I think. And I'm not sure that's accurate [crosstalk], but it's somewhere in that vicinity. It's not inexpensive, let's put it that way, and we budget it. We pay to be members of the club, and we we have a very, we have a board and it manages the money and we are accountable for that and report it to the members and to anybody else who wants to hear about it. Nobody does, but anyway and but... And we keep the trees tidy, keep them weeded, and now there's a new program, which I think somebody else can probably tell you more about than I can, and where people have adopted trees. Have you heard about that?
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:50] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:30:50] Okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:50] I think so. I think Shaker has one, like the Shaker Historical Society, I think they have...
Kathleen Tripp [00:30:56] They have a tree. That is correct. They do. And the liaison with that organization has been really wonderful. It's been, it's been longstanding. It's not new.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:06] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:31:06] It's just been regenerated and reimagined and in a very, very good way at many. Well, I should give a plug. Many thanks to the new ladies, I think they're all ladies, who have come in and along with the oral histories and the other things that they brought on board, have established a lot of outreach to us. And I am assuming to other people as well, it's still early days and it was Covid. But so. It's very exciting.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:39] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:31:40] And it's... So the answer is, how has the club changed, it's getting bigger. It's getting bigger and there's a lot of interest in the club at the moment. And we're having a lot of new members come in. And the first man.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:55] Yeah, do you want to tell me more about that?
Kathleen Tripp [00:31:59] Well. Well, there's one man. There's one man. He's in the Cleveland Orchestra.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:04] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:32:05] And he started coming around to help his wife. Young. They were... They're quite young. They're in their thirties, I think. And they started coming around when they knew we were having cleanup days and helping. And several the members got—I'm not one of those people—but several of the other members got talking to them and saw how keen they were. And they said, well, we want to join in. So they brought their names forward and they were sponsored and adopted a tree. And so, yeah, it was a change.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:36] How do you feel about adding a male to the garden club? Like, how do you think that changes things?
Kathleen Tripp [00:32:45] We'll find out.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:46] [Laughs] I guess so.
Kathleen Tripp [00:32:48] I'm not opposed to it in concept. I was a bit maybe, I was one of the very few, and I think I probably was, who was cautious about it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:59] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:00] Because we have adjectives that describe the Village Garden Club, and it would have been... It was a woman's gardening club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:06] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:07] Now you've got to take away the woman's part of it and change the adjective. And when you do that to end a longstanding, 90-year-old organization...
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:15] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:17] Then it can change the nature of the club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:21] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:21] And I'm not opposed to change. And I was just a little more cautious than than most others in making that leap...
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:28] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:29] And taking that step. And I was overruled by and large. And I'm not... I wasn't opposed to the man. I just wanted us to go through the process.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:38] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:39] That was it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:40] To make sure that everything would still be long lasting and okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:44] That everybody was okay with it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:46] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:33:47] It was... You know, it could change and it may change. It may bring other men in, which is, yeah, okay, we've decided to take this leap and I'm behind it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:57] I've heard a lot, a lot of comments saying they're glad that they can have somebody strong and not like... Like who's younger and that can help out with everything.
Kathleen Tripp [00:34:07] Also. Also. Yeah. Also, it's helpful because as I said, we used to do the work ourselves. Now there's more work.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:14] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:34:15] And, but yeah. So, anyway and so what else can I tell you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:22] Okay, so I know from what you said before, you were president for a while, and I kind of want to go into that I guess, and just kind of describe what that was like and how long and what years you were president.
Kathleen Tripp [00:34:35] Well, it's a two-year tenure and prior to that you have your vice president for two years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:40] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:34:40] So I was vice president. The way I spent my vice presidency was a lot quiet[er]—and was not Covid—was a lot different than I think other people have spent... And a vice president can be a sleepy job. But I decided that what I wanted to do was to get to know the members better. And I did that for a very intentional reason. I knew I was going to be president and I thought if I was going to do anything that was going to be at all important or honest or real or positive, then I should know the group very well because... And this probably goes back to being a teacher and knowing that the best way that you organize any group in a classroom as a group is and that's group dynamics. It's a psychological study that is done on how groups manage. And that I thought I must know who can do what, and to whom can I turn to get things done on the spot and establish relationships with those people so they are almost in a position where they won't say no, if I'm really honest about that. Not twisting people's arms exactly, but you have to be very specific... If you're going to ask someone in a volunteer situation to do a job, you want to be sure, again, teacher training background, you want to be sure they're successful.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:12] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:36:13] And so I just thought that my job when I became president was to provide very fertile ground so that everybody could just flourish.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:23] That's a good strategy, too, because nobody... You're not forcing people to do things they don't do. It's just like you're saying okay if you like this I know that you are capable of this.
Kathleen Tripp [00:36:35] That's it. You really, really want to you want... You want everyone to shine because when one person shines, everybody shines. And then and it is... Sometimes people are reluctant. Like me. I'm terrible on the computer. And during Covid, I mean you just had to get better. And that was a challenge.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:54] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:36:55] The lack of personal communication, because this really is a group of friends and I'm sure you've picked that up through your interviews. You couldn't miss that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:04] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:37:04] Not with a ten-foot pole. You just couldn't miss it. We're all very fond of one another and have a tremendous amount of respect for one another, even if we disagree.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:13] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:37:15] Maybe especially when we disagree. And so Zoom was a challenge. It was a real challenge for me. But there was one woman by the name of Pat Chokel who you may or may not have interviewed yet. She mastered Zoom...
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:34] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:37:34] And then she taught us all how to do it. Now you're looking at 70-plus ladies.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:40] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:37:40] You know, this is not we didn't grow up in your world of computers in. It was a new thing for us and it was very difficult and she did it again. I knew she could do it. She didn't know she could do it, but I knew she could. And so did others, it wasn't just me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:56] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:37:56] Everybody was encouraging her. And she did an absolutely fantastic job and she saved the day.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:02] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:38:02] I really would say it was one woman and and everyone's willingness to try. And there was a tremendous amount of creativity that came out of it all. And I can, I can give you an example, if you'd like one.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:14] Yeah, of course.
Kathleen Tripp [00:38:14] Okay, normally we have parties.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:15] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:38:16] Because friends, that's what friends do. Well, we couldn't meet physically, so we were doing all of this vicarious stuff on Zoom, which is very disappointing at best. But one of the women decided wouldn't I think this was kind of a group decision actually, when we were because we would Zoom our board meetings. So that would be a group of twelve women who would discuss things...
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:37] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:38:38] About the club and how it was going to proceed and all that. And so one woman said, how about, because we can't do a holiday party—and we're trying to be much more open about not just Christmas, but, you know, all holidays that—how about if we had a winter solstice party?
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:58] Cool!
Kathleen Tripp [00:38:58] And we bring drinks, whatever we like, to the phone and we organize a program around that. So we explain the traditions of the Yule log. And somebody did a reading on that. And we all had little Yule logs, and we lit them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:16] Oh, cool.
Kathleen Tripp [00:39:17] It was it was incredibly cool. It really was. It really was. And people wrote haiku poems about winter or birds or sleepiness or, who knew, winter things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:32] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:39:33] And one woman took it upon herself and we decided, well, let's do this, but let's send a formal mailed invitation. So one woman said, I'll do the invitation and she hand painted...
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:46] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:39:47] The most beautiful, beautiful winter sunset.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:52] Who was it?
Kathleen Tripp [00:39:53] Lael Carter. I hope you meet her.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:56] How do you spell her name?
Kathleen Tripp [00:39:57] L-A-E-L. It's Gaelic.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:00] Okay, wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:40:01] Yeah. And she just did it and she made it out and then, you know, all sorts of other things. And we sang Auld Lang Syne at the end to get... Badly, ooh, badly, all out of key and everything but nobody cared but that we'd had probably a little bit more Prosecco than we could have. But no one was going anywhere. And what did it matter? [crosstalk] You know, so and so and, you know, people had set up little decorations in the background on the Zoom thing and all that. But anyway, that's an example about how we rose to the occasion. And then because we have a cherry tree celebration. You've heard about that. Okay, right. Well, we finally, we could not in 2020 but in 2021, we were able at the Cleveland Skating Club to open up and have the splashiest party...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:47] Ooh.
Kathleen Tripp [00:40:47] At the Cleveland Skating Club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:49] So how, how did you since you were able... You were unable to do that the year before, how, what was this party like, what did it look like and what did you do?
Kathleen Tripp [00:40:57] The one when we finally could meet and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:59] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:40:59] It was as though... it was like a high school prom.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:04] [Laughs] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:41:06] It was incredible. We all had a glass of champagne and we had a catered lunch. And we invited the families of the five trees that we planted, the families to commemorate those women. And they all came and they all brought friends. And of course, they were our guests. And so it was a big, splashy event. Everyone was dressed nicely and hair coiffed and, you know...
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:38] All that.
Kathleen Tripp [00:41:39] It was, and the setting was lovely with beautiful flower decorations on the tables done by Helen Schreiber, who is our resident flower arranger and an absolute master at it, completely untrained.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:52] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:41:53] It doesn't matter. She just got it. She's just got it. She's got the flair. And then we had a program by one of our members who lived in Japan on the Japanese cherry trees. What could be more fitting for this group than cherry trees?
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:08] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:42:08] And that was Janet Takayama, who was married to a Japanese man and lived in Tokyo for twenty-five years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:15] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:42:15] So she brought this with photographs and artifacts and things that she'd collected. And so it was a huge day. And then we went over to the Grove and we had another little ceremony and a poem read by Barb Shockey on friendship. And we closed the day.
Kathleen Tripp [00:42:34] Yeah. You're tearing up!
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:35] Well, see, you tell, you tell the celebrations as living, well, as exactly that, parties and remembering these people with honor and love and things like that, and I, like at first when I first started this project, I viewed them as sad, like it's sad that we that we're honoring these people and like it's like the trees, like in memory of them. But when you describe it and when other people describe it, it's like this, it's more of a love and like happy feeling like they're there, they were part of this, [clock chimes loudly] they helped out, and I don't know, it's just...
Kathleen Tripp [00:43:17] It is special.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:19] It's very special.
Kathleen Tripp [00:43:19] I think it is I think it is because it's not something we have to do. It's something we want to do. And it just... Yeah, and we all love gardening.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:27] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:43:28] Even though in this season where our gardens really are not as beautiful—well, some of them are. Some people have, you know, quite a lot of help in their gardens and other other people just don't necessarily have help. They just get it done. Not me. Not this year.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:47] Oh, I'm sure it's still beautiful.
Kathleen Tripp [00:43:49] No, no, no. It's really not. It's really, it's really, it's really... They came to mow the lawn yesterday, so it's looking a little better than it had. But, you know, it's a great, wonderful thing to garden. It's as I said, it really is almost childlike because you really are creating on a blank canvas only it's soil and.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:16] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:44:20] Yeah, well, yeah. And of course, it's wonderful when you get a high yield and you can give bouquets and things...
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:27] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:44:27] And you know that. So that's...
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:29] I really want to know, do you have like a favorite plant or flower that you planted or any tips for new gardeners?
Kathleen Tripp [00:44:42] Ooh! Well, I'd start with local knowledge, like in a local garden center—because they are going to want you to be successful, to come back—and start to talk with them. I go through my own head as to what my color palette is. Do you like bold colors? Do you like soft colors? How much space have you got? How invasive is the plant going to be? I think you start with something that you really like and that's probably something you've seen in somebody else's garden. Or perhaps you've seen it if you've been out in Akron... I forgot the Rose Garden name now, not B.J. Thomas, that's a hall, but the house, the famous... Stan Hywet.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:25] Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:45:25] The Stan Hywet mansion. Perhaps you say, oh I absolutely love roses, and then find out if you can really grow roses. And when I... When John and I moved into this house, I asked for a rose for my birthday every year. And it was someone like Nelson Mandela or Amelia Earhart or a famous person, and they would have a rose and I'd ask for that. Well, the deer moved into Cleveland Heights and they have decimated... I just took them all out. I just couldn't... I couldn't face the disappointment of going out. So it's terribly important because it's expensive to garden. You know, plants are not inexpensive... To find out what will grow. And I'd give that advice. And then through something like Ohio University, you can have your soil tested for free.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:12] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:13] So you can find out how to augment it to make it, you know, acidic if you need that or whatever, whatever, whatever.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:19] So are roses your favorite flower?
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:24] I beg your pardon?
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:24] Are roses your favorite flower?
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:24] No.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:24] What is then?
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:28] Probably Siberian Iris.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:29] Ooh! What do those look like?
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:30] They open like this. While we talk, let's find a picture. There might be one in here. They're blue and... Oh! I don't have to do that. [walks across room]
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:58] Oh, wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:46:59] That's a Siberian Iris, it's more open than the other irises.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:03] Okay, so it's this indigo kind of blue color?
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:07] Yeah, that's the one, that's the kind I like the most.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:09] Okay. So why do you why do you like those?
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:15] It's delicate.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:15] Delicate, okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:18] It's strong.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:20] Really?
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:22] Because it doesn't blow over. Well, the petals are soft and delicate, but the stem is strong enough to hold it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:29] So how do you grow them?
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:31] They're a bulb.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:32] Really.
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:33] And plant them in the fall.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:34] And you grow them outside?
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:37] Mhm. Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:39] Wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:40] So but, you know, that's just one phase. It's very hard because that's just a spring favorite flower.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:49] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:49] And then, you know.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:49] I see you have a lot of orchids, too, in your house.
Kathleen Tripp [00:47:51] And I always have... This is, this probably would be quotable, and that is I always have fresh flowers in my house because it's cheaper than a psychiatrist.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:02] [Laughs] That's a good statement!
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:04] And I buy them at the grocery store.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:06] Really? How do you how do you make an orchid? Because all mine have...
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:11] They need light and they need not too much water.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:13] Not too much water.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:14] They now sell a variety of that have ice... You water them with ice cubes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:19] Yeah, that's what my grandma does actually.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:21] Yeah. Well, ask your grandma. She'll know. And if you think that your overwatering, stop and get some advice or put some pebbles in the bottom...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:32] Oh.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:33] And then it'll keep the plant from sitting in the water.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:38] What do you do if the petals fall off and it's just this green stem?
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:42] You're probably overwatering or you're not giving it enough light.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:45] Oh, okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:47] Must have light.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:49] Okay. I'll take that advice.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:49] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:53] I'm trying to think. Okay.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:54] The future of the Garden Club?
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:55] Yes.
Kathleen Tripp [00:48:55] Rosy.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:58] Okay, why do you believe it will be rosy?
Kathleen Tripp [00:49:05] Because when people are enthusiastic about things and successful with that enthusiasm, it's contagious. And when people go to the Grove and just sit in the Grove or walk in the Grove, no matter what the season, you feel honored to be amidst what I call nature's cathedrals.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:34] Mhm. Why do you call it that?
Kathleen Tripp [00:49:36] Well, because it's the tallest things that nature gives us. So it's like our buildings.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:44] Okay. Well, that makes sense.
Kathleen Tripp [00:49:44] Kind of silly.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:46] Do you think the draining of Horseshoe Lake is going to damage the Grove and the future?
Kathleen Tripp [00:49:54] I think it's a very worrisome circumstance. And I think what is decided by the EPA, who is apparently part of this, the sewer organization, which is part of this, there is a lot of thumbs in in the pie. And I, I don't have confidence in an environmental, any environmental situation, when there are that many voices that anything but the loudest one is going to be heard. Doesn't mean that... We have to keep a very close watch on it. It could just change tomorrow. It could be bulldozed.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:28] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:50:29] And for justifiable reasons perhaps. You know that there's a bridge going over this Horseshoe Lake and I won't go into the details—they were very well publicized—but, you know, one of the arguments is, well, you know, it's not flood control. And if it's not flood control, it doesn't come under our umbrella. So everybody's tossing the ball as to whose umbrella this really comes under. In the meantime, we've got a broken bridge and a very disappointed population of people who use it on Saturday mornings. It's for dog walking.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:01] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:51:01] And I cannot tell you how many people go with their dogs there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:04] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:51:05] And they have a wonderful time. So it's a question of positive land use and how is it used? What does it do? Yes, Doan Brook goes through there. And of course, the flooding of the University Circle area is paramount in the argument. I get that it does flood readily and seriously and destroys the roads, and people live there, and a lot of people commute through that area, et cetera, et cetera. So those people are one voice. But there are other voices like those dog walkers or like us...
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:38] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:51:40] Who really just want to create a beauty spot.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:46] Do you think if they were, say, if they were to bring it back, do you think that would help the Grove or do you think it's going to be okay either way?
Kathleen Tripp [00:51:57] I try to remain optimistic that there will be a loud enough group of people who will insist that the Grove not disappear.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:08] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:52:09] It would be if if the word got out that they were going to take down those forty trees... The story, I think, is pretty well known because of the freeway and that was going through there and all that. I think that part of the story is only the tip of the iceberg.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:24] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:52:25] It's the story that's gone on, the 90 years [sic] that followed the prevention of that, the spirit. I think the women in the club would chain ourselves to the trees. And I think we would have a lot of support of the community in in encouraging us to do so. And they'd probably... We'd probably operate in shifts.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:47] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:52:47] I think it would be a public outcry to destroy it. It would be unnecessary to do so. And besides that, even if none of that were effective, the thing that would win out is that the tree canopy in the city of Shaker Heights is low. And if all else fails, politics will prevail.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:07] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:53:10] And that will be... Now, the land is not owned by Shaker Heights. The land is leased. The land is technically owned by the City of Cleveland.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:20] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:53:20] So that's another issue. The people who would protest to save it wouldn't necessarily be the people making the decision about what happens to the land. But I can tell you, it would be an awfully loud... It would be an awfully big mistake, I should think. I don't know. But what I do know is we have to watch it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:40] Do you think this is the biggest issue since the Clark-Lee freeway fight? Do you think, or has there been other events that are affecting the Grove and the area?
Kathleen Tripp [00:53:56] I think we could... We could experience something environmentally that, you know, could wipe the trees out, that we would have nothing to do with at all, but we would rebuild that. We would bring it, rebuild the trees. So this is bigger in the sense that if they say we cannot do this, and they very well could, then we would be up the creek without a paddle.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:19] Okay, I think, I hope at least, I hope everything will be okay. I'm pretty sure, I think you have a huge following of people that would be able to stand up for you guys.
Kathleen Tripp [00:54:30] Well, I think in this in this topsy-turvy world, we need to cling to good stories. And this is a good story.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:39] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:54:40] This is a feel-good thing. And I think that I think that will prevail. I'm an optimist to that extent, but I don't think I don't think we should be passive.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:54] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:54:55] We need to be very... Keep a very careful watch. We have a woman on the Shaker Heights Council who is in charge of the tree canopy for Shaker Heights. Now, those positions tend to be quite capricious because she goes and our solid footing is gone.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:15] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:55:16] Or the mayor changes and decides he wants a skyscraper there. I mean, you don't know...
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:20] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:55:21] How these things could go and they could go wrongly. They have, through history, gone wrongly. And so but we'll have to... And that's why we need to grow.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:33] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:55:33] Because we need to have a generation of your age people to come in and to help us keep watch.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:42] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:55:42] And it's no point in just having a nice elitist sort of group of ladies who meet and sit in country clubs and have nice lunches and things. And we do study, by the way, we have lectures every month so that we can be better informed on environmental things, but flowers and gardening and all of it and anything related to the earth
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:07] Really? What [do] you guys listen to lectures about?
Kathleen Tripp [00:56:09] We have one where speaker comes in. We have a catered lunch, which we pay for, and either in someone's home. But now we're getting really big. You know, sixty people. No. Yes, sixty people we are now. And not too long ago... And an average, about thirty-five come to a meeting. And that's pretty good statistically.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:31] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:56:33] So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:35] So how would you then describe, like, say, if somebody wanted to join the Village Garden Club, how would you describe it? Because obviously some people think that you guys are elite by what they mean.
Kathleen Tripp [00:56:49] Mmm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:49] But how would you describe in your own words?
Kathleen Tripp [00:56:53] How would I describe how a new person could get involved?
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:56] How, yes. And what the group's like. Like I know how you guys are and how you look at the things and you guys are very relaxed. But I guess, how would you describe yourself?
Kathleen Tripp [00:57:10] I think when I joined, I was a little nervous.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:11] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:57:13] Although it wasn't that different from the group that was around me. They were approximately the same age, approximately the same socioeconomic situation. So it was all kind of comfortable at one level, but on another level, it was still a new group and I was the new kid on the block. So I think that if someone would like to be part of the group, the best thing to do is to get known by at least one member of the group. And then one of the things that we've been working on as a group is to be very conscious of the fact that just getting somebody to join isn't where it ends. It's where it starts.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:48] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [00:57:48] You must make sure that that person is picked up by you or someone else and comes to the club meetings not alone, but with somebody and is introduced to all the women in the group and that sort of thing. And typically that happens pretty easily. Most of the women are pretty on board with introducing everyone to everyone. And if a guest is invited, then they're asked to stand up and not say anything about themselves, just their name or something, maybe where they live or something simple, not, you know, nothing threatening.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:20] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:58:21] And then and then it's the job, and that doesn't always happen, it's the job of the club members to make sure they go and talk to that person and make them feel welcome and say, you know, we really hope that, you know, if this is your cup of tea, you know, come along and, you know, this is what we do and we'd love to have you be part of it...
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:39] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [00:58:40] Sort of thing. That part of the puzzle isn't so straightforward and we're working on it. We know it isn't and we're working on it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:46] So do you... So to be a member. Right, you don't have to I want to clarify. You don't have to have a huge house to a beautiful garden or like you don't have to have this extensive area... Oh, there's a deer in your garden.
Kathleen Tripp [00:59:02] I'm sure there is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:04] I'm sorry! I just saw...
Kathleen Tripp [00:59:05] Oh, yes. She comes every day. I'll show you what she's done—it's really very cool—when we walk around the garden if you still have time. Yeah, that's her. She has two does.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:14] Oh, wow.
Kathleen Tripp [00:59:15] Fawns. I'm sorry, she's a doe. She has two fawns. She won't go away if we go out. Excuse me. I'm just going... Are we near the end?
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:24] Yeah. I guess... Do want me to...
Kathleen Tripp [00:59:26] We'll end.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:30] Thank you for your time. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we end? I guess... I just wanted to make sure to say that anybody can apply to the club, you don't have to be like this outstanding person, you can be...
Kathleen Tripp [00:59:44] Oh yes! You must be absolutely outstanding! And you must be outstanding and enthusiastic about learning about gardening, flower arranging, flowers, the environment, meeting other people—now not just women but people—who are kindred spirits and like what you like. Otherwise, there's no point in joining a club like this if that's not a really keen interest of yours, because it won't hold on to you.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:23] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [01:00:23] You won't... You won't find it interesting.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:29] Okay. Alright.
Kathleen Tripp [01:00:31] But if you are, you don't have to know a lot. You just have to want to know.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:36] Mhm.
Kathleen Tripp [01:00:37] And particularly if you're a young person like yourself, you can't be expected to have years of gardening experience. You probably have some through your family or, I mean, not everyone learns to garden. I certainly did from my father.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:49] Yeah.
Kathleen Tripp [01:00:50] And but you have to have a love of it or an interest in it. Excuse me. Or just be keen to know me.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:59] Mhm. Well thank you.
Kathleen Tripp [01:01:00] This is my great pleasure. Thank you very much.
Caitlen Cameron [01:01:03] Yeah. And thank you to everybody for listening. And I hope you listen to the rest of the series. Thank you.
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"Kathleen Tripp interview, 19 August 2021" (2021). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 918005.