Helen Schreiber has been a member of the Village Garden Club since about 1970. She discusses immigrating to the U.S. from Germany in the 1940s with her Ukrainian parents, living in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood through high school, and returning after college to live in Shaker Heights. Schreiber describes her experience teaching flower arranging classes and her service in several positions in the garden club.
Schreiber, Helen (interviewee)
Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)
Shaker Heights Historical Society
"Helen Schreiber interview, 25 August 2021" (2021). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 918008.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:00] Alright. Today is August 25th. It is Wednesday. It's about 11 a.m. The weather today is sunny. It's supposed to rain a little bit later, unfortunately, but good for gardens.
Helen Schreiber [00:00:13] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:13] We are in... Are we Cleveland Heights?
Helen Schreiber [00:00:18] Shaker Heights.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:20] Shaker Heights. Okay. And so I am Caitlen Cameron again. And I am with...
Helen Schreiber [00:00:23] Helen Schreiber.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:25] If you want to spell that please.
Helen Schreiber [00:00:27] H-E-L-E-N S-C-R-E-I-B-E-R.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:34] Alright, Helen, I'm so excited to interview you. Helen has quite the notorious background and history. So are you ready to get started?
Helen Schreiber [00:00:42] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:43] And do you consent to be recorded?
Helen Schreiber [00:00:45] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:46] Alright. Let's get started. So I guess just start out with some basic questions. When and where were you born?
Helen Schreiber [00:00:53] I was born in Germany and my parents were forced labor during the war. They are Ukrainian.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:04] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:01:04] They were taken from the Ukraine to Germany to work.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:10] Wow. How was that growing up?
Helen Schreiber [00:01:13] We left Germany when I was five. And we are very lucky to be in the United States.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:22] Do you remember coming over?
Helen Schreiber [00:01:24] I do remember. We came on a very large ship and there were many sick people on the ship. It was a ten-day journey. And we landed in New Jersey. There was a church that sponsored us, and we lived on a chicken farm so my parents could earn enough money to come to Cleveland where we had friends. There was four children at the time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:59] Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:01:59] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:59] Were they older or...
Helen Schreiber [00:02:04] How old were my parents? It was my stepfather to start with. They were in their early 40s. Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:17] That's amazing, that's quite the journey.
Helen Schreiber [00:02:19] It is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:20] So how long were you in New Jersey?
Helen Schreiber [00:02:24] Just one year. Enough money to get to Cleveland.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:28] Cleveland?
Helen Schreiber [00:02:28] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:28] What did your family do once you got to Cleveland?
Helen Schreiber [00:02:32] My father was a factory worker and my mother was a cleaning lady.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:37] Really? So did you go to Cleveland schools then?
Helen Schreiber [00:02:43] Yes, we moved to Tremont, close to the steel mills, and our house was at the bottom of St. Olga and it is the highway 490 now. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:57] [laughs] Oh yeah, those highways took over everything!
Helen Schreiber [00:03:03] Yes. And I did go to the Tremont Elementary School and Lincoln High School.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:09] So once you graduated, did you work right away or did you go to school?
Helen Schreiber [00:03:16] I started working when I was 16 at the local supermarket to help with the family finances. And on my 18th birthday I met my husband.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:32] Really? So how did you meet him?
Helen Schreiber [00:03:35] I was celebrating my 18th birthday with friends at a bar that had a dance hall... [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:44] Oh my gosh.
Helen Schreiber [00:03:46] And my husband was there with his friends. He was a college student at that time at Kent State, and he asked me to dance and he took me home that night.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:59] Wow. Was he a good dancer?
Helen Schreiber [00:04:02] He was. I was not. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:06] [laughs] That's good because it's usually the opposite!
Helen Schreiber [00:04:13] It's true. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:13] Huh. [clock chimes in background] That's great. So once you met him did you continue to work?
Helen Schreiber [00:04:19] I continued to work and I did the books for the supermarket. And at 21 I got married and my husband was in his first year of medical school and I supported him. And by the time he graduated, we had no bills.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:41] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:04:41] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:42] Wow. How did you... How did you do that? That's amazing.
Helen Schreiber [00:04:47] I'm not sure actually. [laughs] We did save all our money from our wedding, and I worked when we moved to Columbus. He was at Ohio State. Somehow we got through it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:04] Yeah. Did you did you guys have like a small wedding or was it?
Helen Schreiber [00:05:07] We had a very ethnic wedding. There was an accordion playing. It was in a church hall.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:14] Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:05:14] I was Luthe... I was Catholic, my husband was Lutheran. And my parents were a little upset about that. [laughs] But I think they got over it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:25] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:05:27] And I stopped working when we had our first child during medical school.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:35] Wow. That's amazing. So, when you had the first... How old were you when you had your first kid?
Helen Schreiber [00:05:43] Twenty-three.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:44] Twenty-three?
Helen Schreiber [00:05:44] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:44] Okay. And then, so did you... So you stopped working forever or did you go back to work after?
Helen Schreiber [00:05:53] I did not go back to work. Yeah. I did work for my husband. I did his books for him...
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:59] Yeah, but that's a lot of work.
Helen Schreiber [00:06:00] For a while. Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:04] So you did that, and how many kids do you have?
Helen Schreiber [00:06:08] Four children.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:08] Four?
Helen Schreiber [00:06:10] Three girls, one boy.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:11] Oh my gosh. Well, that's a lot of girls.
Helen Schreiber [00:06:13] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:16] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:06:16] And they range in age from there's a fourteen-year difference between the oldest and the youngest.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:25] Wow. So what I kind of want to know is so you were in Columbus...
Helen Schreiber [00:06:27] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:28] And your husband was working...
Helen Schreiber [00:06:31] He was in school [crosstalk] the whole time. Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:34] Okay, so when did, I guess, when did he start working?
Helen Schreiber [00:06:38] Well, we arrived in Cleveland. He was going to be a surgeon, and Case Western Reserve, University Hospitals, he did his residency there for five years of every other night on call.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:54] Oh my gosh.
Helen Schreiber [00:06:54] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:57] That, the level of work to be a surgeon is insane. So...
Helen Schreiber [00:07:01] Yes, our oldest daughter is a neurosurgeon and her training was seven years...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:07] Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:07:08] After medical school...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:09] Amazing.
Helen Schreiber [00:07:13] And she's married to a neurosurgeon. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:16] So once you moved to Cleveland, did you move to this house, or where you arrive?
Helen Schreiber [00:07:22] No, we, actually, we did arrive in Shaker Heights. We rented two separate houses. And it was fun living in a two-family house with small children.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:37] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:07:37] And we encountered some lovely, helpful people. And then we bought our first house in Shaker. I think I was 29 at the time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:52] Twenty-nine?
Helen Schreiber [00:07:53] Yes. And we stayed there for ten years. We moved to the Shaker Boulevard house, we were there for twenty-five years. And I have been at the present house for ten years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:07] Really? Gosh.
Helen Schreiber [00:08:10] And I've had a garden in all three houses. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:13] Really? Okay. [Helen laughs] That was my next question. I wanted to know what started. When... I mean did you garden as a kid?
Helen Schreiber [00:08:19] My mother always gardened. I did belong to a 4-H club during the summer, and they would come and inspect the hollyhocks or whatever I had planted or the vegetables. And then it kind of disappeared for a while. But I always loved flowers.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:40] Flowers? Okay. So your gardens in Cleveland were all flower gardens mostly?
Helen Schreiber [00:08:46] Mostly flower gardens. We've had a couple of vegetable gardens, but I figured out by the time the vegetables are ready, I could have bought them at the market. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:01] [laughs] I am going through the same exact thing, and they take months to grow for one good one.
Helen Schreiber [00:09:07] I did go into the back of my garden this week, and I discovered from my compost pile I had squash growing and potatoes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:18] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:09:19] Which shocked me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:21] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:09:21] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:23] Wow. Well, that'll be good for the fall then.
Helen Schreiber [00:09:25] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:25] Huh. So you've had these gardens in Cleveland and Shaker Heights...
Helen Schreiber [00:09:32] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:32] I guess when did you get started with the Garden Club?
Helen Schreiber [00:09:39] Over 40 years ago, probably 42, 43 years. And Erika Reale sponsored me. I was a little intimidated at first. I think I was one of the few people that nursed a baby on a bus for the club. We were going on a trip to Kingswood Gardens and I wanted to go even though I had a nursing baby. It has been a nurturing experience.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:13] How would you say it's like that?
Helen Schreiber [00:10:14] I think our first flower show, I was talked into doing an arrangement and it was at the Botanical Garden Center and I won a blue ribbon and I thought it was a huge mistake...
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:33] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:10:34] That I could never live up to it again. But I was encouraged.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:40] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:10:40] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:41] Do you remember what the, what it looked like?
Helen Schreiber [00:10:45] It was in a... I wanted it to look like a Rembrandt flower arrangement with tulips and daffodils and roses, some things out of season, berries, lovely foliage. And there was a... I didn't follow the rules.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:09] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:11:09] Yes. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:09] Ooh. A rule breaker!
Helen Schreiber [00:11:12] Yes, it's because I didn't know the rules.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:17] Yeah. Well, that's amazing.
Helen Schreiber [00:11:19] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:19] So did you... so that was your first your very first one, right?
Helen Schreiber [00:11:25] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:26] Gosh. So how did your next ones go?
Helen Schreiber [00:11:30] I have an assortment of ribbons from white to blue, and I do enjoy flower arranging, and I think it was the knowledge that I had acquired from being in the club. I do small weddings.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:49] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:11:50] I have a large wedding next year to do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:53] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:11:53] I only do them for people I like. I've done two in England already...
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:58] Oh my gosh. Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:12:00] Only because I have a fr[iend]... a landscape designer who lives in England who does design my gardens and she's probably my best friend.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:14] Really? How did you meet her?
Helen Schreiber [00:12:15] She used to live in Shaker Heights and she designed my Shaker Boulevard garden, and I introduced her to quite a few people and she comes twice a year. She stays for two weeks every time. And it's been a wonderful experience.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:39] Yeah. It sounds like a great friend.
Helen Schreiber [00:12:39] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:39] So you have these arrangements, right? So how did you learn, like after your first time where you just experimented, I guess how did you develop your talent?
Helen Schreiber [00:12:55] I think part of it was reading about it, reading the rule book, which I'm not very good at, and just watching other people, learning from other people. And the Garden Club would periodically have programs and flower arranging. And I'm doing one this November.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:18] I know. [Helen laughs] Everybody talks about you and how remarkable you are with flower arranging.
Helen Schreiber [00:13:24] Oh. Hit and miss. [crosstalk] Hit and miss.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:25] Whatever, modesty!
Helen Schreiber [00:13:27] No, no, you, you... You worry about it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:34] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:13:34] And I like I don't like arrangements to look like they come from the florist shop.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:40] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:13:40] I like them to look like you walked into your garden, you picked whatever you could find—or your neighbor's garden—and make something out of it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:54] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:13:54] It's more of a relaxed look than a structured look.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:59] Yeah. Yeah, because florist ones are very, like they try to be equal and...
Helen Schreiber [00:14:05] Designed.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:06] Designed.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:06] Yes. Yes. Mhm. I like the the loose look.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:09] The loose look. Hmm.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:09] Yes. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:11] Do you have a favorite flower to include?
Helen Schreiber [00:14:16] Oh, I would... Well, favorite flower is not what I include usually.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:22] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:23] It is probably lily of the valley...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:25] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:26] Because when my husband was in college, he picked a huge bouquet on my birthday and had one of his classmates deliver it to me on my...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:37] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:14:38] On my 19th birthday.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:41] Aww!
Helen Schreiber [00:14:41] And I think the sheer beauty of that wrapped in aluminum foil. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:48] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:48] But the scent is incredible.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:52] Huh.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:52] And the thought, of course.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:53] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:14:54] It was very romantic.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:56] Yeah. What did those smell like?
Helen Schreiber [00:15:01] It's like nothing else. It's like a gardenia. It's tuba rose. It's a little hard to describe. But there... It's hard to find in perfume, I think. It's a white flower smell. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:18] Yeah. That's a great memory.
Helen Schreiber [00:15:21] Yes, it is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:23] So I guess... So from here, you did flower arranging. Do you remember any prominent speakers like arrangers that came and taught you anything?
Helen Schreiber [00:15:38] Lorna Mierke was in our garden club, is in our garden club. She is a very good teacher.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:48] Yeah. With Ikebana, right?
Helen Schreiber [00:15:49] Yes, and I'm not Ikebana person. I'm a little, I think, that... Less is best in Ikebana. I am the opposite... [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:59] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:15:59] Unfortunately. But it teaches you good design.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:08] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:16:08] Yes. And I think Lorna was probably one of our best teachers and kind.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:14] Yeah. We... I interviewed her a couple weeks ago and she was a wonderful, wonderful woman.
Helen Schreiber [00:16:20] She's a great woman. Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:23] So her recording is on there too, so...
Helen Schreiber [00:16:24] Good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:26] But she she definitely is about line and color and balance and...
Helen Schreiber [00:16:31] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:31] It's a lot of different components that go into Ikebana that I listened to but I'm like, I need practice [Helen laughs] if I am ever going to get that good.
Helen Schreiber [00:16:43] It's removing all the busyness and the beauty of one flower.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:49] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:16:49] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:50] So, you've been in for forty years, right?
Helen Schreiber [00:16:55] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:56] I guess, going back, what all... Do you have favorite memories and things that you did?
Helen Schreiber [00:17:05] Oh, we used to have... We still do, but we used to have wonderful Christmas parties and I think we hosted at least three or four at our house, on Shaker Boulevard...
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:18] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:17:18] And it was fun having everyone in your home. People would bring hors-d'ouevres. We would have flower arrangements for the holiday. And it was nice having the husbands there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:39] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:17:39] And I can remember our youngest daughter got to meet a Nobel Prize winner.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:45] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:17:49] Yes. And in the end, we bought his house. It's the house I'm in, now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:54] Oh, who was it?
Helen Schreiber [00:18:03] Yes. His wife was the wife is Alice Robbins.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:06] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:06] And he was... It just happens that he was at Case Western Reserve Medical School when my husband was a resident.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:15] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:15] So we had a small connection.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:18] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:18] And when we bought the house, Alice said she was so happy that a doctor and a gardener were moving in.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:26] Aww, yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:27] It was very sweet.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:31] Huh. So that's that's really remarkable. I mean, so when you have a Christmas party, is it stressful? Is it like, oh, I have my house perfect all this stuff or...
Helen Schreiber [00:18:40] Oh, but it's it's if you don't open up your house and use it, what is it?
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:45] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:45] For looking at? [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:50] Yeah. True! That's very true.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:50] I never worried about a mess.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:51] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:18:52] And it was a large house. I can't believe we lived in a house that large right now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:00] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:19:01] And we learned to be happy in a small house. Much easier to take care of.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:06] Yeah, easier to take care of.
Helen Schreiber [00:19:08] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:10] Less messes, less stresses... [inaudible]
Helen Schreiber [00:19:12] Mhm, but we did acquire a very large yard with it, which surprised me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:18] Yeah, in Shaker that's lucky too.
Helen Schreiber [00:19:19] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:19] Because I know a lot of people have little squares.
Helen Schreiber [00:19:23] And we have the Nature Center across the street. And I love seeing families and dogs walking every day.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:31] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:19:32] It's life.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:33] So when... I'm trying to think. Do... Were you involved in any of like the history that went on with like, I know it may be before your time, but...
Helen Schreiber [00:19:46] Not the turnpike.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:47] Yeah, no...
Helen Schreiber [00:19:48] Yeah, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:48] Not that but like I know after that, there was still some like with the garden center being built and then people like developing that throughout time.
Helen Schreiber [00:19:59] No, no. That was all before. But we did... I'm trying to think. Well... I'm trying to think what we did. I think our main focus was the South Park cherry tree planting...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:16] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:20:18] And through the years I have had almost every job but president.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:26] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:20:27] I... Which is something I do not want.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:31] Why?
Helen Schreiber [00:20:31] Oh, there's plenty of capable women. [laughs] I've been treasurer. I've done programs. I've been vice president. I've had quite a few jobs.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:50] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:20:50] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:50] Okay, since you've had quite a few, I'm going to ask what is each job like?
Helen Schreiber [00:20:54] What is each job like? Vice president is not very important. You do have to take over. If the president is gone.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:03] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:21:05] Programs is a little harder because you have to stay within the budget and hope people arrive, and the home is adequate for the meeting. We did have a lot more meetings in homes during that time. Somebody would make a centerpiece always, and we would have somebody pouring tea out of the silver container, teapot. I'm not sure that happens anymore.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:39] Huh.
Helen Schreiber [00:21:39] And I think people used to get more dressed up, which is okay that they're not. And we do have a lovely variety of women, I must say.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:52] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:21:52] Young and old.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:54] Yeah, I heard there's a lot of new members that are joining...
Helen Schreiber [00:21:58] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:58] And I heard about the esteemed male that joined.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:01] The what?
Helen Schreiber [00:22:03] Oh! We have a male?
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:05] Yeah. You didn't know?
Helen Schreiber [00:22:07] No! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:10] I'm so sorry to be breaking the news to you. [laughs]
Helen Schreiber [00:22:10] Oh, I love it! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:13] Yeah. I think I said he plays in the Cleveland Orchestra and he participated in the cleanup.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:19] Oh. At the Cherry Tree Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:23] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:24] Very nice. Oh that's exciting.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:26] Yeah. I am sorry to be breaking it to you [Helen laughs] but it's, it's, I know it's groundbreaking because in the past they said they never had any men in the group.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:36] Oh, he'll be the head of the party. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:38] Yeah, I guess how do you feel since you're just finding out?
Helen Schreiber [00:22:41] Oh I think it's great. Great. Just like women are joining men's things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:46] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:47] It's the same. Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:49] I think we should...
Helen Schreiber [00:22:50] I don't know how he will feel being surrounded by women.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:53] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:22:53] We do sound like chickens sometimes when there's when everyone is speaking. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:00] Oh my gosh. [Helen laughs] Is it.... So I guess what's it... Is it hard to be in an all women's group, is it... I know you said it's like high school sometimes.
Helen Schreiber [00:23:09] Sometimes it's a little bit like high school. I... You know, some people like to have their voice heard more than others. They like to take up more time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:23] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:23:23] But most women that are gardeners, flower arrangers, horticulture people, conservation, they're usually lovely women.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:35] Mhm. Oh, yeah, everybody I've talked to has been wonderful.
Helen Schreiber [00:23:40] Yes. So, there's no worries there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:40] They're earthy. Does that sound weird? [laughs] Earthy? No! [laughs].
Helen Schreiber [00:23:45] We don't all wear Birkenstocks. But, you know, it's...
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:50] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:23:52] We're more casual.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:54] That's good. So you said, I remember you said that over time it's become less dressy, less rigorous, less strict. When you joined, was it very elegant and different?
Helen Schreiber [00:24:06] I think it was it was more formal in the homes. I don't know how to put that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:12] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:24:12] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:13] Like, how would you, I guess, describe, like... I heard that some people said they would use the last name or their their husband's name instead of going by their names?
Helen Schreiber [00:24:24] Oh, that's over. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:26] Yeah. Well, I know that's now, which is good.
Helen Schreiber [00:24:28] I mean, I don't have a husband anymore, and I would... If you're only Mrs. Helmut Schreiber, how do they know your name? [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:41] Yeah, that's true.
Helen Schreiber [00:24:41] It's okay if you have both names in the phone book. I understand that, but I like to be called by my first name.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:49] Yeah, we deserve to be called by our first name.
Helen Schreiber [00:24:52] Better believe it. And for women that get divorced, what happens to them?
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:57] That's true.
Helen Schreiber [00:24:58] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:58] And if you look at the old books, they all say the husband's name. And I wondered about that. But I guess divorce wasn't really a huge thing back then.
Helen Schreiber [00:25:06] Oh, maybe you weren't allowed in the club. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:10] Maybe! I don't know. [Helen laughs] Alright. So what are some details outsiders might not know about the club? Because you've been involved for so long, so.
Helen Schreiber [00:25:26] I think that we raise money for good causes. I personally feel we could have more causes for the amount of money we have, personally, but I do like that we make the park beautiful where we're at. I would like to see more help given to people that are not exposed to beautiful parks somehow, but, that's our main focus.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:04] Yeah. So this is kind of different I guess but, so you grew up a different way than some of these other women. I guess how does that put your perspective on the Garden Club and how we do things?
Helen Schreiber [00:26:19] I guess I think I didn't know what to expect for at first because my mother didn't belong to a garden club or her mother. I feel like I come from a different world sometimes, but you find people in the club that you like. Mhm. And everyone is pretty neutral, though.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:47] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:26:47] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:48] I know nobody that I've talked to seem like, oh, I'm so proper, I don't, you know, nobody else can get on my level. [Helen laughs] It's very down to earth.
Helen Schreiber [00:26:59] It's very down to earth. Yes. My kids went to the public schools. They did not go to private schools. They all graduated from college. They have advanced degrees. We had three surgeons in our house at one point. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:14] Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:27:14] One is an in law, but where we're okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:18] Yeah, that's...
Helen Schreiber [00:27:20] We have a teacher with an advanced degree. I have a restaurant owner.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:24] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:27:25] Our son. He's married to a... His wife is from Thailand and they have a restaurant in Westerville, Ohio, outside of Columbus.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:38] Really? What's it called so we can give him a shout out?
Helen Schreiber [00:27:39] The Thai Grill.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:40] The Thai Grill.
Helen Schreiber [00:27:41] Yes, very small. They're doing I think it's almost twelve years they've been in business.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:47] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:27:47] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:47] And even during Covid I know that...
Helen Schreiber [00:27:50] During Covid, they did all take out and they're, they're fine.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:56] That's good.
Helen Schreiber [00:27:57] Yes. I think our children have sort of lived the American dream.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:04] Mhm. Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:28:05] We're very fortunate.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:06] Yeah. Coming up from your past too, I mean that's...
Helen Schreiber [00:28:08] From Tremont. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:11] Yeah. So, that's, trying to form my words here... So I guess you said the club, everybody's down to Earth.
Helen Schreiber [00:28:25] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:25] Does it feel like a family? Is it like a friendly...
Helen Schreiber [00:28:30] It is because I've been in it so long, and you do have these relationships with people from the committees that you've worked on together, which I think is very nice. And if you participate in the club, of course you get to know people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:51] Yeah. Do you have a favorite committee that you've been on?
Helen Schreiber [00:28:54] I have not been on a committee recently. I'm only doing a program for them. My problem is that I go to Florida for two months in the winter.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:05] Oh. Okay. [Helen laughs] Hey, I would too.
Helen Schreiber [00:29:05] And so. And my husband was ill for a couple of years so I sort of backed off for a while. My priority was being at home and... But I'm back now. But I would like to pick and choose what I do. I love one-shot things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:28] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:29:29] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:32] So what... If you could start a program, what would you start?
Helen Schreiber [00:29:36] Hmm, good question. Maybe during the holidays, making things for shut ins.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:46] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:29:47] Just greenery or something, or, to remind them of what the holidays were like, I don't know. That's pretty simple, though.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:58] No, that's okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:29:58] Yes. I think people are lonely when they get older.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:01] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:30:01] And I think that's... Since we are privileged, it's an easy thing for us to do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:10] Mhm. I know a lot of people, especially with Covid, and it's like they feel isolated from everyone, their family, their friends...
Helen Schreiber [00:30:18] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:19] The outside world.
Helen Schreiber [00:30:19] It's been hard.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:22] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:30:23] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:23] How do you think Covid has affected you?
Helen Schreiber [00:30:26] Um, I'm very lucky to have one daughter in town. I have four children. She is a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, and she would drop off food and keep me entertained, best she could. And like I said, we're going peach picking today.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:47] Mhm. [Helen laughs] Yeah, I hope that goes well.
Helen Schreiber [00:30:49] And, it has. And I do get together with three other women. Two are widows. The other one, her husband lives out of town. And we would get together once a month and mostly drink and eat. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:09] Hey, that was most of Covid.
Helen Schreiber [00:31:14] [laughs] I did not travel. I stayed at home. And I'm lucky to be in a comfortable house with a great TV. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:24] Did you participate in the garden club while Covid was going on?
Helen Schreiber [00:31:29] Very little.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:30] Very little?
Helen Schreiber [00:31:31] Very little. Yeah. I think I had one Zoom meeting. My husband was a wiz on the computer. He could Photoshop you before other people did. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:46] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:31:49] He had a podcast. He did different things. And I didn't do much on the computer, and that was my fault. So, you know, I will text and do things like that. Do I want to look at a long Zoom meeting? No.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:10] Yeah, I know it was a lot of different changes.
Helen Schreiber [00:32:15] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:15] For everybody.
Helen Schreiber [00:32:15] Mhm. Sure.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:17] I had my schooling online too.
Helen Schreiber [00:32:19] Must have been weird.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:21] So weird.
Helen Schreiber [00:32:22] I know. It's that interaction that we have with other people. I miss the people I don't even like. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:35] That is so true. [Helen laughs] Wow. .
Helen Schreiber [00:32:39] We need all sorts of people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:44] Yeah, because I guess to be surrounded by people that you like all the time, then you start to dislike them too, so.
Helen Schreiber [00:32:49] How true.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:49] I guess, so then, so over time, so compared to back when you joined to now and how it's Zoom or kind of different meetings, I guess, how much has changed?
Helen Schreiber [00:33:07] Oh, the newsletter comes on the computer, which I read sometimes, and I'm not sure what else. I know there have been a lot of changes. We, we don't get hot meals as much. That's not as important to me, but I think a lot of the older ladies, which I'm part of now, always enjoyed a hot meal. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:44] What do you mean?
Helen Schreiber [00:33:46] We would have a caterer...
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:46] Oh.
Helen Schreiber [00:33:47] At the houses and she'd bring in the food, heat it up...
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:50] Oh.
Helen Schreiber [00:33:51] And we'd be eating off of nice china...
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:55] Huh.
Helen Schreiber [00:33:55] And things. But I think that's gone. And that's okay too.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:01] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:34:01] It's too hard to coordinate, and not as many people offered their large homes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:08] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:34:08] And as we're getting older, we live in smaller homes and we are very fortunate to have a lot of people come to the meetings.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:16] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:34:16] It's a good thing.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:18] Do you think the demographic is still like a lot of older...
Helen Schreiber [00:34:23] Yes, I do. Even with professional women who don't have time when they're working, this is the time they want to meet new people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:35] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:34:35] And I think it's just a different time in their life. They're still vibrant but, and productive, but they are older.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:47] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:34:47] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:49] Do you see a change in the cherry tree, like the Grove?
Helen Schreiber [00:34:53] I do. I think we're paying more attention to it, which is good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:00] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:35:01] I think we're manicuring the trees personally.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:04] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:35:06] I'm not s[ure]... Some of that is necessary. I don't think all of it is necessary. I did help plant around the rock a couple of years ago. It was our anniversary. People have different opinions about how things should look...
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:24] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:35:25] Whether it is a natural wild look or manicured look, you know, but we are in a park...
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:35] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:35:36] With people and lots of people tell me how much they enjoy it, which is nice. I get a small amount of pleasure in saying, oh, that's our club. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:47] It is beautiful. I go over there sometimes.
Helen Schreiber [00:35:48] It is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:51] And have you sat on the bench, new-ish bench that...
Helen Schreiber [00:35:54] I have not.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:56] You need to go!
Helen Schreiber [00:35:57] I know.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:58] I would love to get everybody to take a picture on there but know coordinating everybody's schedules is like...
Helen Schreiber [00:36:03] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:03] Crazy.
Helen Schreiber [00:36:05] Mhm. I usually do. The only thing I do is sometimes for the Christmas parties I do all the tables centerpieces, and for some of the meetings I'll do the centerpieces.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:19] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:36:19] And that's fun. They're one shot...
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:21] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:36:21] Things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:22] I guess this is a total side note, but what do you put in a Christmas centerpiece because the only thing I know is poinsettias?
Helen Schreiber [00:36:32] I don't use poinsettias. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:33] Good. Because I...
Helen Schreiber [00:36:33] I personally don't like them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:41] No, me either. They're just leaves that are dying.
Helen Schreiber [00:36:41] I think using the, you know, the holiday greens, which you can pick up at the supermarket or cut them from your backyard, the evergreens, the hollies, and it's texture that you want and then maybe some red roses and hot pink carnations...
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:02] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:37:03] To get a little contrast. Yeah, I used to hate carnations. They're okay now. [laughs] They last. They come in great varieties now. They're variegated. And they're not quite as boring. And then you find berries and you mix the berries in with it and maybe a little sparkle sometimes, sometimes little fairy lights or things that are run on batteries or a candle in the middle.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:34] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:37:35] Yeah. I do like traditional holiday colors. I'm not into blue during Christmas, but maybe that's old fashioned.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:46] Yeah, I know it's... I talked to somebody that says it's a holiday party now, not Christmas party, which is completely fine...
Helen Schreiber [00:37:56] We live in a mixed community. I have a son-in-law who's part Jewish and his comment to me was it's not what religion you are, it's how you live your life.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:08] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:08] And he put me right in my place. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:16] Oh my gosh. [laughs]
Helen Schreiber [00:38:16] I'm kind of neutral on religion.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:19] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:19] One is not better than the other.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:21] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:21] And it's what you make of it and how you live your life.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:25] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:26] Are you kind?
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:31] And what you do with it and how you are.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:31] How do you treat people. Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:34] Yeah. Because no matter what you say, if you, you say you are an esteemed individual...
Helen Schreiber [00:38:37] Yes, no.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:37] But you're a jerk to everybody.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:41] Are you nice to the waitress that takes care of you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:43] Yes.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:44] Or are you acting like a jerk? [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:48] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:48] Are you whining all the time? I think I have a hard time with that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:54] Yeah, me too. [Helen laughs] It's okay. I have been a bartender so I know.
Helen Schreiber [00:38:56] Of course, yes. [laughs] And we don't really care how important you were. Our daughter was a hostess at a nice restaurant here. And doesn't it matter who you are. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:13] Yeah. Your last name is not everything.
Helen Schreiber [00:39:16] Yes. Or when you're a patient in a hospital, so... Oh well, we do have some lovely, important people, I must say, but we have some regular people too, which is kind of nice.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:35] So, besides the club, I guess you lived in Shaker for a while.
Helen Schreiber [00:39:42] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:43] So do you remember any big local or regional events that happened while you lived in Shaker, like things that kind of were big around here or in the area?
Helen Schreiber [00:39:57] Hmm. Gee, I've lived a pretty sheltered life in Shaker [laughs] I must say.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:06] That's okay. That's fine.
Helen Schreiber [00:40:08] Power outages. Well, there were some... There are always sad things that happen in a community which I don't want to get into. Deaths of certain types, you know, crime. We're pretty happy here, I must say. I did always tell my children this is not the real world and that we were privileged to live here. My children did get a great education at Shaker Heights. There's always a little controversy, but nothing terrible that I can think of. I think we had a flood once, a couple of floods in the basement, but that stopped. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:00] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:41:00] I mean, those are the bad things that happen here. [crosstalk] Yeah. I don't get too excited about politics. I am a Democrat. Other than... And I used to be Republican. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:14] Oh, you switched?
Helen Schreiber [00:41:17] I switched. I love Barack Obama. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:19] Oh yeah, that was everybody's turning point.
Helen Schreiber [00:41:21] [laughs] He turned the tide for us.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:27] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:41:27] And I think I look at things a little different. I remind myself how privileged we are here and other people are not. And it is our job to help make things easier for other people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:44] Yeah. Well, that's very bold and honest of you. I know a lot of people feel that sometimes like people that live in a beautiful home or beautiful area, that they think that everything else is like not as good as them. But you are very considerate of things around you.
Helen Schreiber [00:42:02] We like to support things like Habitat for Humanity. I support Lutheran things, prisoners that come out of jail and the housing that's provided for them. We used to provide for our Lutheran church that closed, which we were not happy about [laughs], but things change and you move on.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:26] Yeah. Well that's good.
Helen Schreiber [00:42:26] Yeah, Salvation Army we support. I think those are the things that truly help poor people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:39] You know, Shaker Heights is a beautiful, beautiful area, and I'm glad that you're able to provide things for people. I know a lot of people appreciate it. And even if they don't, I mean, you're still helping, so...
Helen Schreiber [00:42:54] You don't need your name on everything.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:55] Yeah. [Helen laughs] tell that to some people, please.
Helen Schreiber [00:43:00] I know. If your name's not on it, you're not contributing. I don't get a receipt when I go to the Salvation Army. I mean, it's not going to change my life.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:12] Yeah. So you've helped out with the community and things in that area. So what other clubs are you in?
Helen Schreiber [00:43:20] Shaker Lakes Garden Club. I think I've been in there about twelve years or so, maybe longer. It's a little different. It's a little more formal. And I've met a lot of nice people there, too.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:43] So how is that different? Do they have a Grove too?
Helen Schreiber [00:43:46] They go out into the community more. We put a hundred thousand dollar installation into downtown Cleveland.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:02] Wow.
Helen Schreiber [00:44:02] That was years ago. I think that was before the Republican convention. We do have people that give a lot. And you're expected to. [laughs] We sponsor gardens in poor neighborhoods and things through Shaker Lakes. We sponsor students in horticulture and things like that. And it's, we have some very high-end horticulture judges and flower arrangers.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:45] So when you joined that club, did they look at your arrangements?
Helen Schreiber [00:44:48] Oh, it was intimidating. Oh! I had a lovely sponsor. And I think the first garden I did for them, we won a blue ribbon.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:02] Really? [Helen laughs] See, you are amazing every time!
Helen Schreiber [00:45:05] No, it's always a mistake! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:06] Oh, whatever.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:08] I do always have help. And I think the thing I enjoy most is hanging around really smart women...
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:17] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:19] Either in horticulture or in gardens or in life. You know.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:25] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:25] It is fun learning from them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:28] Yeah, I know I've noticed that too. When I interview... I've interviewed all these women. Their progress and their achievements over the years are incredible.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:39] Yeah, I know. And a lot of 'em had great careers and all sorts of wonderful things.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:48] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:49] You know, so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:53] Do you ever wish you could change anything?
Helen Schreiber [00:45:57] I have no regrets.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:59] Okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:45:59] I can honestly say that everything is a learning experience. Maybe a few things with the children, but when you know better, you do better.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:09] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:46:12] I'm not responsible for them anymore. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:14] Yeah. Yeah, that's true.
Helen Schreiber [00:46:16] It's true! [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:16] You did the best you could do.
Helen Schreiber [00:46:19] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:21] I mean, with that many surgeons in the family, I think you did pretty well.
Helen Schreiber [00:46:24] Yeah, nobody's been in jail.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:25] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:46:25] You know, so far. So. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:28] So far! Yeah, let's not... [laughs].
Helen Schreiber [00:46:30] Not gonna say never. You know. They're all good human beings and that's what counts, I think.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:39] That's good. Do any of your children garden?
Helen Schreiber [00:46:41] Yes. In fact, I just picked tomatoes from my daughter's garden who lives here. Our oldest has a couple of gardeners at her house. [laughs] And she doesn't garden. And my middle daughter gardens.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:01] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:47:01] Yes. So they don't belong to clubs. They're both working still.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:08] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:47:09] And I think it's been an influence on them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:12] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:47:12] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:13] Do you think they will ever join the Village Garden Club or anything like that?
Helen Schreiber [00:47:17] Probably not.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:22] Okay. You gotta continue that legacy!
Helen Schreiber [00:47:22] I have to be honest with that. [laughs] I think they're more into exercise, traveling. I don't think they're club people.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:34] Yeah. That's okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:47:36] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:38] I guess what I was going to say so, so two things. One, friends in the club. Who are, who are some of your friends and some of the people you, I guess, to mention in over the years that you've...
Helen Schreiber [00:47:53] Are we talking about Village? Huh. Oh, I would say Erika Reale and Nancy Schriner is a good friend. Her name is so close to mine, I would get her mail periodically. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:12] Oh.
Helen Schreiber [00:48:14] And, oh, I don't know. I think there's a lot of... Lorna Mierke.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:16] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:48:19] There's a lot of loose relationships that I'm very happy to see them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:24] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:48:25] Do we see each other that much out of the club? Probably not, but I'm always happy to see them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:34] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:48:35] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:35] Are there any women that have passed away that you were good friends with?
Helen Schreiber [00:48:39] Yes. Chris Norman. And we would do a lot of things together. And she just... It's been a little over a year since, or less, because she died during Covid. And this past year we had a dinner and I got to talk about her.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:04] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:49:04] Yes. And that was kind of nice.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:06] What are some things about her?
Helen Schreiber [00:49:10] Oh, she was if she was your friend, you were golden. If she wasn't, watch out. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:17] [laughs] Oh my goodness!
Helen Schreiber [00:49:20] But she always read the rules. She had a lawyer husband that I knew could get me out of trouble if I was stealing flowers somewhere.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:30] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:49:31] Or on park property. I do go to cemeteries to get things sometimes, some greenery...
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:38] That's okay.
Helen Schreiber [00:49:39] Or whatever, and I stop at tree lawns to pick up things when rhododendrons and things have been cut. But Chris was a... She did a rehearsal dinner for my oldest daughter when she got married and broke her wrist during it. My husband left and didn't return for that evening. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:07] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:50:07] Yes. Never complained. She was a very hard worker. She was the president. She was the treasurer. She did all sorts of good things and we would have dinner together a lot. So it was a good experience.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:31] She sounds like an amazing woman.
Helen Schreiber [00:50:32] Yes, and we've had quite a few people that have passed away through the years, and I think I was always impressed with their knowledge and the way they supported their husbands and cared for their children.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:50] Yeah. I noticed, like I know how you guys plant a cherry tree if somebody passes in the club. How many do you think I guess you/ve planted over the years?
Helen Schreiber [00:51:06] Oh, I could not guess, but we used to plant a tree per person.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:13] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:13] Well, after a while, that got to be a bit much.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:18] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:18] So I think one year we decided that we would plant one tree for everybody who passed that year.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:28] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:28] And that made a lot more sense because we could care for them better. And you do run out of space.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:36] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:36] So, and still have it look nice. And we do lose trees periodically. So if you put a name on each tree and then the tree is gone, doesn't look good. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:51] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:51] Where, if... [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:51] Well, that makes sense though.
Helen Schreiber [00:51:53] Yes, it does.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:53] I was wondering why they didn't label the trees for who it was for, but...
Helen Schreiber [00:51:56] No and then it's like I said, in a bad storm, if it falls down, you know, and it's it's a, I think it's a lovely thing we do, so I hope I can continue my dues, my children will pay them, so that I can be part of a tree.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:21] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:52:22] I actually think going back to the earth, maybe my ashes could go there. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:29] That's great though. Do you see... I know the club has been talking about moving away from non-native species and going more native. I guess how do you feel about that?
Helen Schreiber [00:52:40] How far back do you want to go? What do you call native? I think that's part of the problem.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:48] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:52:48] You should pick trees that are hardy for this area. That only makes sense. You're not going to plant a dogwood tree, you know, and it is in a park area. It's not in a manicured home.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:04] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:53:04] So, I think just hardy trees. I don't think they have to be native personally.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:13] Mhm. I know cherry trees are very, very particular.
Helen Schreiber [00:53:16] It's a loose term that we use. [laughs] There's hardly any real cherry trees there. It's just the name of the Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:24] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:53:24] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:25] But I've heard it still looks beautiful no matter what is... [crosstalk]
Helen Schreiber [00:53:26] It does.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:29] Even now, I mean, it's midsummer almost, and it's...
Helen Schreiber [00:53:32] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:32] I still walk over there and it's beautiful, so..
Helen Schreiber [00:53:35] It's very calm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:36] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:53:36] Yep.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:40] So. How do you see the future for the Garden Club?
Helen Schreiber [00:53:47] I am amazed at how many new people we have in the club and I think that's wonderful. I think the people in charge have been working on it and we've attracted people. I don't think we're so rigid that people are intimidated to join our club. And I think it would be nice if we had a little bit more variety. I don't know how to put that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:18] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:54:18] And I think some people don't have the time to join a club, but maybe would like to.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:28] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:54:30] Maybe we could make it easier somehow. I do like daytime meetings and things like that, but I also think a club is as good as its programs. And if you don't spend money on the programs... We're not there just for lunch.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:52] Mhm. Yeah, it's more... Then it's just a status versus an actual...
Helen Schreiber [00:54:55] Yes. Learning.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:57] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:54:57] Yes. And so the variety is good right now. Could be better.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:05] Mhm. I've heard that from a couple other people too.
Helen Schreiber [00:55:07] Good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:07] So that's good to hear.
Helen Schreiber [00:55:10] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:10] I know you guys are trying to be more progressive and kind of move on with growing with the times and stuff.
Helen Schreiber [00:55:15] Everything changes and if you don't change with it, you're out. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:20] Yeah, that's completely true.
Helen Schreiber [00:55:21] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:25] And do you have any advice for people wanting to join?
Helen Schreiber [00:55:31] Mmm, I think if you join, you know, hope to be on a committee or asked to be on a committee, something that might interest you. It's the only way you get to meet more people on a personal level. And I was intimidated at first. But as you meet people, it's nurturing.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:56] Mhm. Do you think you have to have a big garden to join?
Helen Schreiber [00:55:59] No, no. You could be interested in conservation, maybe less plastic, maybe... There's all sorts of wonderful things you could get involved with. But you do get to learn about plants and things or public, public land or the Nature Center. There are things we could definitely help out with.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:29] And branch to that area.
Helen Schreiber [00:56:29] Yeah, there's something about green space in a community. This is why we love living here.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:37] So, I guess some last things. Any advice for a gardener, because you have a beautiful garden from what I've seen so far. [Helen laughs] Any tips or tricks you would like to give?
Helen Schreiber [00:56:52] Oh, I don't like too much of a manicured look. I think going out... In fact, I do not have help with my garden. I cut my lawn. I do not belong to a gym or anything. I consider that my exercise.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:08] Yeah. [laughs]
Helen Schreiber [00:57:09] I do. And. Your head feels better, mentally, physically, after being out in the garden and seeing what's good and bad out there and it's forever changing just like us.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:29] Yeah. For arrangements...
Helen Schreiber [00:57:29] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:31] What is the best way to keep, like, flowers looking beautiful, like to make long lasting?
Helen Schreiber [00:57:36] Oh, I think just, you know, when you if you've bought them in the supermarket, recutting them, putting them in fresh water, changing the water every day if possible, or if they're in an oasis or in an arrangement, just adding clean water to it, not in direct sunlight. And they're living things. It's a short life.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:04] Mhm.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:06] Things that lasts forever you don't notice after a while.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:10] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:11] Like silk flowers. I think there's a place for them, but there's something about a brief life that's beautiful.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:20] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:22] That I think is nice.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:24] I know Kathleen gave me some hydrangeas...
Helen Schreiber [00:58:28] Uh-huh.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:29] From her, from her bush out back.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:31] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:32] And I kept them all weekend and now they're just starting to wilt a little bit.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:36] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:36] And they're certainly beautiful because then, you know, you see that life cycle.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:42] You do. And even with the hydrangea, you can submerge the whole head into water sometimes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:48] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:58:48] Uh-huh.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:50] What does that... What does that do?
Helen Schreiber [00:58:54] It hydrates it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:55] Huh.
Helen Schreiber [00:58:56] Yeah, and... But they're tricky. You could have one die just like that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:01] Really?
Helen Schreiber [00:59:01] Yeah. And and there's so many different kinds of hydrangeas that, I mean, I personally love them. Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:10] Me too.
Helen Schreiber [00:59:10] They take up a lot of space. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:11] Yeah.
Helen Schreiber [00:59:13] And the blue ones are exceptional. But I do, you know, we've... This is my third garden in a house and it's, it's good for you mentally, and we all need something to do. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:35] Oh, that is true. So we are reaching the end, and is there anything else you'd like to add about the club, about people, about your life?
Helen Schreiber [00:59:50] The club has been part of my life, and it has certainly felt it in a nice way. It's the people in the club, and they've been long relationships, which is nice.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:12] Well, that's great. Well, thank you. I am so happy [Helen laughs] I got to interview you and hear about your life. You've been a wonderful...
Helen Schreiber [01:00:22] Isn't that the classic... [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:24] That's okay! Interview and thank you so much.
Helen Schreiber [01:00:26] Want to look at the garden?
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:27] Yes, of course.
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