Abstract

Pat Agatisa is a newer member of the Village Garden Club in Shaker Heights. She discusses growing up in New York City, living in Pittsburgh, and moving to Shaker Heights in the early 2000s to a house on Green Lake. She discusses her leading role in overseeing the upkeep of the garden club’s Cherry Tree Grove at Horseshoe Lake. Agatisa describes how the club accepted its first male member, reflects on how the club dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, and shares gardening tips.

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Interviewee

Agatisa, Pat (interviewee)

Interviewer

Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)

Transcript

Caitlen Cameron [00:00:02] Alright, today is August 20th. It's a Friday, and it's a little cloudy out. We have some sun. We are at the Shaker Historical Society, kind of in the garden. We were just at the Grove, but my name is Caitlin Cameron and I am here with...

Pat Agatisa [00:00:19] Pat Agatisa. And that's A-G-A-T-I-S-A.

Caitlen Cameron [00:00:26] Yes. And, yeah, she was doing a little work over there, so I took her away for a minute, and I'm excited to get this started. Are you ready?

Pat Agatisa [00:00:33] Yes, I am.

Caitlen Cameron [00:00:33] And do you consent to be recorded?

Pat Agatisa [00:00:35] Of course, yes.

Caitlen Cameron [00:00:37] Okay. So I guess I kind of just want to start out with the basics, and when were you born?

Pat Agatisa [00:00:41] I was born April 8th, 1954, a long time ago. [laughs] Once you hit 60, you know, I mean, everything changes and you relax, I think, with age. I was born in Brooklyn, New York. Mhm. I lived there until, let's see, 1987 when we moved to Pittsburgh. A lot happened in between there. So I don't know. What do you want to know about my childhood or?

Caitlen Cameron [00:01:09] Mhm.

Pat Agatisa [00:01:11] Alright. Brooklyn in those days is not the Brooklyn of now nor the Brooklyn of the 1970s or '80s. I grew up in Sheepshead Bay which is a small... My mother used to call it a small fishing village on the bay. It's near Coney Island, which everybody knows, you know, where all the rides are. There was Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and then Manhattan Beach was the beach that I used to go to, and Sheepshead Bay was probably a half a mile away from it. So I spent my summers walking to the beach with my sisters, you know, went to the local parochial school, got a scholarship to a girls', a private girls' school in Manhattan, which was a big step for the Brooklyn girl to go to school in Manhattan. But my sister, my oldest sister, had gone there also. She didn't have the scholarship. I did. So I grew up taking the New York City subways at the age of 14 to 18, an hour and 15 minute ride up to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where I went to a private Catholic girls' school that had, I guess, 40 students in each class. So total of a hundred and sixty women went to the school. It was a great experience. You know, it was the type school where we didn't have a gym. We took ballet. Where we took speech and etiquette, how to walk with books on our head, you know, learn how to walk properly. Yeah. Yeah. It was... It was a great experience. I enjoyed it immensely. It took me out of my comfort zone in the sense because some of the women, girls then, were daughters of ambassadors or, you know, well financed parents versus I was, you know, the girl from Brooklyn, you know. So a few years ago, it was our fortieth reunion. And here I am in Cleveland, and I was the one that organized it.

Caitlen Cameron [00:03:16] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:03:16] Yeah. Yeah. I got the... I got the Dominican Girl Award at graduation. And that was like Miss Social, you know, like I was the friendly one that try to be everyone's friend. So I reached out and organized our fortieth anniversary reunion. And in 2022 it's our fiftieth, and I hope somebody else plans it but... [laughs] But the school was great. School was an old brownstone that had been owned by B. Altman of B. Altman and Co., a very well-known New York department store. He was a Jewish gentleman who was befriended by the Dominican nuns and he donated his home and mansion to the nuns.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:03] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:04:03] So, you know, our... We had a ballroom, you know, with the huge paintings and tapestries and the like, which is where we took ballet. And there was a chapel, though I'm sure as a Jewish man it wasn't a chapel initially, but it became a chapel and the classrooms were the drawing room and the bedrooms. And I remember the bathroom had a tub because it had been a mansion. So, yeah, it was a great experience.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:29] That's cool.

Pat Agatisa [00:04:29] Yeah. Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:30] So it wasn't like dorms or anything?

Pat Agatisa [00:04:32] Oh no, no. I commuted.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:34] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:04:34] Yeah, yeah. Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:36] So coming from there, did you ever feel like, I don't know, because you had all these high society friends...

Pat Agatisa [00:04:43] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:04:44] Did they help you in the long run or did they make you feel like....

Pat Agatisa [00:04:47] No, they didn't. And I think that's why I got the... Oh, it was called the Old Dominican Girl Award. Now I remember. Because I just felt like I should be everyone's friend, and we were a close-knit group. And those relationships continue, you know, be it only by Facebook, but... And reunions when we get together.

Caitlen Cameron [00:05:08] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:05:08] Yeah, yeah. So and from there I went to college in Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn, St. Francis College, another nice Catholic college. And I commuted to there. And it was a school run by Franciscan brothers, very small also. Had gone... It had been in existence from like 1870s or something. So I went in, let's see, '72 to '76, 1972 to 1976. So it was about a hundred years old when I went, but it had only gone coed two years prior.

Caitlen Cameron [00:05:47] Oh.

Pat Agatisa [00:05:47] So I had come from a small old girl's high school to an almost all male college.

Caitlen Cameron [00:05:54] Oh my gosh.

Pat Agatisa [00:05:54] That was culture shock. I mean, I remember walking into the cafeteria and the school was on multiple levels because they had bought buildings next door to each other or added them. And I remember the first time I had to walk into the cafeteria, I was standing and there were like three steps down from where I was into the cafeteria. And I felt like I was on a platform and everyone was staring at me. I was like, okay, where am I going to sit? You know what I mean? It was like somebody's day in high school, you know, that first day, but it was in college. And I was a biology major and there were probably only twenty biology majors because it was mostly a business school. And, you know, got to know those students had actually met my husband there.

Caitlen Cameron [00:06:40] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:06:41] Yeah. Yeah. So he was two years older than me. He was a biology major. But we met in French class and... But we were just friends during college. I met someone else actually after college, got engaged to him.

Caitlen Cameron [00:07:00] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:07:00] You know. And after college, I went on to Rutgers to get a Masters in genetic counseling, which is rather, it was a rather... Do you know about genetic counseling?

Caitlen Cameron [00:07:13] Mm-mm.

Pat Agatisa [00:07:14] Okay. At the time, it was a career that was very new that entails counseling people about genetic diseases that they have or they might pass on to their children. It was at a time when newborn screening became popular. You know, when, I don't know if you know about, they take a heel stick, the blood sample from babies, and they test for a number of genetic diseases.

Caitlen Cameron [00:07:41] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:07:42] And genetic counseling at that time for me was, you know, reaching out to the people whose children were diagnosed and informing the parents about what was in store, you know, educating them. But... So I had gone to Rutgers for my masters and I talked about I had a hundred applications?

Caitlen Cameron [00:08:01] Mhm.

Pat Agatisa [00:08:02] Well, when I graduated with my master's in genetic counseling, I sent out one hundred—in those days there wasn't online—

Caitlen Cameron [00:08:08] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:08:10] I printed up a hundred resumes and a hundred letters and sent them to just about every hospital in the tri-state area. Got one interview. And I figured, okay, I have to really ace this interview if this is the only one I got. And it was at the State University of New York at Downstate, and it was for the sickle cell program. Sickle cell is a disease that is inherited in primarily African American population, and they needed a genetic counselor to work with the pediatric and the adult population. So I had an interview with the adult hematologist, the adult sickle cell doctor, and the pediatric sickle cell doctor. And when I knocked on the door, the pediatric sickle cell doctor's office, Jerry, my husband now, answered the door and he looked at me and he goes, Oh, I know her from St. Francis College. You should hire her. And I said, Oh, hi, Bill, which is his brother's name, who had been the president of the school.

Caitlen Cameron [00:09:11] Oh no!

Pat Agatisa [00:09:11] Yeah! [laughs] Well, to make a long story short, an hour, a year and a half later, we were married. The other engagement was ditched and, you know.

Caitlen Cameron [00:09:17] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:09:18] Yeah, yeah. And we were married. I mean, we, you know, initially, we were friends, but something grew, and I cut off the engagement and yeah, it was meant to be, you know, so we're married now forty-one years, almost forty-two.

Caitlen Cameron [00:09:41] Congrats, that's amazing actually.

Pat Agatisa [00:09:41] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was, you know, it was meant to be. And I talked about, you know, my husband being having polio. And when I told, you know, Jerry came around, met my parents and you know, knowing that he was handicapped and, you know, having polio, he has, you know, no muscle in his left leg, has a noticeable limp and, you know, with time, it's gotten harder for him to walk and now he wears a brace. But when I told my mother I was going to marry Jerry, she said to me, you know, he's going to be in a wheelchair one day. And I said, Yeah, Mom, and I'll push it. Yeah. And, you know, lately I do have to push it like at airports and stuff when he can't walk far. And I remember thinking that when I came home from California the other day, you know, about what my mother had said. And that's fine, you know? So I'm the person I am because of our relationship. So that we met in Brooklyn and he was the doctor's lab tech. He was her research assistant. And he had always wanted to be a physician. You know, growing up with polio, his mother and his grandmother had been very staunch proponents of him getting an education and one day becoming a doctor and finding the cure for polio. You know.

Caitlen Cameron [00:11:05] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:11:05] I mean, the vaccine obviously came out. And when he was 30, he finally applied to medical school at State University of New York Downstate, and he went to medical school there. And he... And after medical school, you know, you go to do a residency, and he ended up being placed in Pittsburgh. So we moved to Pittsburgh...

Caitlen Cameron [00:11:30] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:11:31] In 1987.

Caitlen Cameron [00:11:34] So were you still doing the same job as before?

Pat Agatisa [00:11:38] I... Yeah. When we moved to Pittsburgh, I worked at SUNY Downstate for ten years when we moved to Pittsburgh. I did get a job in the sickle cell program at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, and I worked there for nearly ten years. Okay? Jerry was doing his residency at Pittsburgh and did a rotation through hematology and mentioned, oh, you know, my wife's a genetic counselor, and it was a Friday, a Thursday or Friday. I was pregnant with my second son and the doctor in charge said, oh, we could use somebody like that. And like on Tuesday, I had an interview and Wednesday I had a job. And I was like, you know, I am pregnant. And, you know, this can only be part time. But, so I continued with her. So I was a genetic counselor, really combined about twenty years.

Caitlen Cameron [00:12:26] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:12:26] Yeah. And do you want to know further? My education? So I say when I was 40, I had a mid-life crisis and I decided I wanted to go back to school and the School of Public... There was the Children's Hospital, the School of Public Health and the middle school where our oldest son Colin was going. And I was curious about the School of Public Health, you know, a degree in public health. So I went there for an interview and ended up getting enrolled in the Ph.D. Program and... Took me eight years. I did it part time and I have a Ph.D. in public health and epidemiology with an emphasis on women's health.

Caitlen Cameron [00:13:06] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:13:07] Do you want to move into the shade? We can move the table that way.

Caitlen Cameron [00:13:11] I just...

Pat Agatisa [00:13:12] Okay, whatever.

Caitlen Cameron [00:13:15] That's amazing, so you have your Ph.D.?

Pat Agatisa [00:13:15] Yeah, yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:13:15] Congratulations. An amazing feat.

Pat Agatisa [00:13:20] I mean, I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my kids with us all doing our homework, so...

Caitlen Cameron [00:13:25] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:13:26] Yeah. Yeah. And they were there when I did my defense. Colin was... It took me eight years so I started in, let me think... I graduated in, let's see, we moved here 2004 so I probably graduated and I did my postdoc in Pittsburgh, so like 2002. So my kids were like fourteen and, no, seventeen and thirteen or twelve. Yeah. So they were there at my defense. Jerry was next to me changing my slides and I don't know if you know about a defense, but you give your whole research and then they drill you.

Caitlen Cameron [00:14:09] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:14:09] You know, and I'll never forget Brendon, who is this idyllic little ten year old with blond curly hair came and sat next to me. You know, I'm here at the defense. He came sat next to me. Most of the people left because they knew that's the decorum. And I just looked at my advisor and she kind of smiled and they drilled to me with Brendon standing right next to me, you know...

Caitlen Cameron [00:14:31] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:14:32] Seated there. And, you know, obviously I passed. So my research was in actually in cardiova... Nontraditional risk factors of heart disease in women because, you know, heart disease is the number one killer of women. People don't realize that. They think it's breast cancer or something like that. And women have atypical symptoms and signs of heart disease and they tend to let it go unnoticed. You know, women bear the pain and they get a little indigestion or whatever. And so I looked into depression as being a risk factor for heart disease. That was my postdoc work. And my doctoral work was actually on women having hypertension during pregnancy and putting, setting themselves up for risk later in life, having heart disease. Yeah. So it was a great research trajectory. And every now and then I get posts from Researchgate. I don't know if you know what that is about. My citations and my thesis paper has like two hundred thirty, you know, it's like one of the sentinel papers about hypertension and pregnancy and the need for surveillance throughout your life, you know, to curtail the development of heart disease. So it was good work. It really was. Then we moved to Pittsburgh, I mean, from Pittsburgh to Cleveland for my husband's career once again. [laughs] You know, it happens. It happens. It happens. And I got a job at the Clinic, and this one was in the Women's Health Division, more reverting back to my genetic counseling work in which I worked with an ob-gyn about prenatal testing in women and their decision-making process. So, and that entailed a lot of interviewing women about what they thought about it, how they think doctors should explain things to them, what their role should be, what the doctor's role should be in finding out what their values and preferences were, instead of just handing out the stuff and saying, you're going to have this test. So that was great. Yeah. Yeah. Alright. I've been talking too much.

Caitlen Cameron [00:16:58] No, that's what this is.

Pat Agatisa [00:16:59] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:17:00] This.... Just to get this in there. Do you any advice or any notes that women should for, like risk factor, like, say, like you've mentioned hypertension. Is there anything that women need to watch out for, I guess, throughout their life?

Pat Agatisa [00:17:20] Throughout their life? I think they shouldn't deny if they have pain. If they're feeling uncomfortable, when women tend to grin and bear it, they take care of their partners and children more so than themselves, you know. So they should obviously eat healthy and exercise. But they... You know, when issues come up, they should speak up.

Caitlen Cameron [00:17:50] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:17:50] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:17:52] Thank you.

Pat Agatisa [00:17:52] And especially women that had hypertension during pregnancy. That should be on their medical history so they get routine, you know, blood pressure checks and lipid tests or that kind of thing. Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:04] Because the stress on your body's one thing but I mean.

Pat Agatisa [00:18:06] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:06] But especially on your heart.

Pat Agatisa [00:18:07] Right. And depression. Having an effect on your heart also is something that's overlooked, you know. So... Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:13] Well, thank you.

Pat Agatisa [00:18:13] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:15] So, okay. So you made it to Cleveland...

Pat Agatisa [00:18:16] Yeah!

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:16] After, after following him.

Pat Agatisa [00:18:21] And I'm here 17 years now. We moved in 2004. Yeah. August 2nd we bought our house. I mean, we moved in, so 17 years here now.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:30] Wow. So are you in the Shaker Heights area or are you in Cleveland Heights?

Pat Agatisa [00:18:33] Shaker.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:35] Shaker?

Pat Agatisa [00:18:35] Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:35] And you've always been in Shaker since you've been here?

Pat Agatisa [00:18:36] Yeah. Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:36] Wow. That's...

Pat Agatisa [00:18:39] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:18:40] Is it... Do you know what year your house was built?

Pat Agatisa [00:18:42] Yes. 1914. I live on Green Lake, which is one of the small lakes. Do you know where Green Lake is? It's that way. Okay. And Dozie's my neighbor, you know. She and I did a lot of research on our... Which is kind of how we know the historic society too. We did a lot of research on the architect of our homes because it was the same architect. When you see our houses, you'll see they don't really look alike. But Harry Shupe was and I can't remember the first name, but [Carl] White, it was Shupe & White [White & Shupe] who built my house and Shupe alone built Dozie's house. My house was built in 1914. It was the first house built on Green Lake. There's eleven houses on the lake and the original owner was Frederick Green, hence Green Lake.

Caitlen Cameron [00:19:28] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:19:29] So I feel proud of that. Yeah, it's a lovely Dutch colonial. You'll have to come visit. When we went to see it, you know, when Jerry got offered the job... Actually we went house hunting before Jerry was actually offered the job at the Cleveland Clinic. We found it. We put an offer on it and then he finally got his offer for a job. But it was in the workings, you know. When we got to it, we just looked at it and saw that it's on the lake and we said, okay, we'll buy it. And I remember the realtor looking at us like you didn't even walk inside. And we said, you don't understand. We're from Brooklyn. We'll buy it, you know? [laughs] You know, it's the ideal location. So it's been lovely. When we bought it, our younger son Brendon was a sophomore in high school and Colin was a sophomore in college. So we brought the seven-bedroom house, which was ridiculously large, but it's just idyllic. So and I've been working on the garden ever since. Mhm. Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:20:35] So that's what I wanted to ask you. So did you have a garden at anywhere in your past or did you start in the Shaker [house]?

Pat Agatisa [00:20:43] Well, in Brooklyn, we had a small garden that my mother tended to and it was more of the rhododendrons and forsythia and impatiens. And I remember there were... There was a peach tree and a nectarine tree in the backyard that my dad had planted. And as a result, I hate peaches and nectarines because that's what we ate all summer. And we had peach pie and peach cobbler and nectarine this and that. I cannot eat those...

Caitlen Cameron [00:21:06] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:21:08] [Laughs] Those fruit, you know, but I didn't tend to it. Oh, though I remember one... I forgot about that. When I was probably middle school age, I decided to rip up part of the backyard and plant a vegetable garden while my dad was at work. So my younger sister—I have three sisters, some of them must've helped me—and we tore up the backyard and my father came home and I think he could have killed us for ripping up the lawn. But we were getting ready to plant tomatoes and basil. And I'm Italian. Agatisa is my name. My husband's name is Boyle. So, you know, it was like ingrained in us. You had to have tomatoes and basil growing. Yeah. So that was my first garden, now that I think of it. When we moved to Pittsburgh, we bought kind of a brownstone that had a postage-stamp front yard and back yard. You know, that I... I had neighbors that advised me. There was one man two doors down that helped me with designing the front yard. And the back yard had the most majestic magnolia tree that... My neighbor had grown up in the house that I lived in and then moved next door and she said that her family had planted that tree. So when we were there, it was like 30 years old. So it was beautiful. And we took pictures of it before we moved because we knew we'd miss the magnolia tree. But they were small. And then when I moved to my house in Shaker... I'm going to move back because of the sun.

Caitlen Cameron [00:22:44] That's fine.

Pat Agatisa [00:22:44] The previous owner had done a lot of gardening. So the backbones were there. And, you know, I had to hire a landscaper and Dozie was next door and she's an avid gardener. And she would come over and hint—weed. [laughs] If you walk through Dozie's... If she'd come and visit, if she'd walk through my lawn, she'd be picking all of these things out, you know, and I'm like, Dozie, it's okay, it's green.

Caitlen Cameron [00:23:10] Every clover?

Pat Agatisa [00:23:10] Yes.

Caitlen Cameron [00:23:11] Wow!

Pat Agatisa [00:23:11] Oh yeah. If it isn't... If it isn't a blade of grass, she's a fanatic. I tell my landscapers as long as it's green, I don't care. Yeah, but she helped me a lot. And, you know, by trial and error, I started planting different things and...

Caitlen Cameron [00:23:29] We can try to move.

Pat Agatisa [00:23:29] Yeah, let's... Yeah, let's just move into the shade. [recording paused]

Caitlen Cameron [00:23:34] [Recording resumes] Alright. We are back. We moved into the shade a little bit...

Pat Agatisa [00:23:36] [Laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [00:23:36] But, as you were saying, with your lovely garden behind your house and picking out the clovers...

Pat Agatisa [00:23:44] Mhm. Yeah, it's it's a huge garden. We have an acre and a half. So there is gardens in the back, gardens on the side, gardens in the front. Many of my plants are donations from Dozie and other, now, other Village Garden Club members. We do plant swaps, which is really handy. So I really try to plant perennials, not annuals, getting more into more native plants instead of, you know, ornamentals that are short-lived.

Caitlen Cameron [00:24:19] So what is a native plant?

Pat Agatisa [00:24:22] Yeah, a native plant is a plant that grows in this climate, has always been in this climate, you know. We talked about... Dozie talked about Black-eyed Susans or Coneflowers. Those are fairly native, you know, versus putting in, you know, annuals like petunias. And was it, oh, and impatiens and that kind of thing. You know, plants that attract butterflies like milkweed and butterfly, you know, attractive type things, plants with trumpet flowers so that the hummingbirds come and, you know, my garden is not landscaped, you know, so that... It's not perfectly groomed and sculpted. It's kind of a wild mess at this point because I was gone for two weeks. But it brings me great joy. It really does. You know, when we came home from California the other day, the first thing I had to do was walk outside and, like, just look at all the beds and the weeds, but, you know, cut some flowers and bring them inside. I have a sunroom that... That's the favored room in my house because it's, you know, two sides of windows. And I can sit in it all winter long and still feel like I'm outside in my garden.

Caitlen Cameron [00:25:45] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:25:46] You know? So, yeah, it's an ideal place to live, and I always say, as long as we live in Cleveland, we won't sell the house even though it's way too large, you know, but I could never drive by it if I still lived in Cleveland, you know? So we're here for a while.

Caitlen Cameron [00:26:07] That's a great... It's kind of an honor to live in a Shaker house. I feel like everybody who lives in one, it's like such history and such a rich... Like your surroundings are all part of Shaker, part of the Heights and the development of the area. So that's really great that you cherish it.

Pat Agatisa [00:26:26] Yeah, I feel like I'm the steward of the house now, not necessarily the owner, and it will be passed on to somebody else. I feel the spirit of the people that lived in it before and I honor them. And actually two people have come into my house and told me I have a ghost. Literally, they walk in...

Caitlen Cameron [00:26:41] Do you think you do?

Pat Agatisa [00:26:42] Now I wonder. Do you want me to share that story? When I first moved to Shaker, I joined the East Side Welcome Club. You might have heard about it from other people. Sally... I was a president of it. Sally was a past president. Dozie was the vice-pr[esident]... I got Dozie involved when I was the president. But anyway, I had a meeting at my house. It might've been book club or something from the East Side Welcome Club, and a woman literally walked in my house and said to me, you know you have a ghost? And I said, well, he or she must be very happy because he or she has not manifested themselves to me. And she said it's a she. That was the end of discussion. Okay?

Caitlen Cameron [00:27:23] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:27:23] Yeah. Soon afterwards... Oh, maybe a few years later, when I was working at the Clinic, one of my coworkers' husband on the side, did a painting and I needed the kitchen painted or something. I don't know, I think he started in the kitchen. Yeah. So he came to my house and he walked in and his eyes like lightened up, like whitened, I mean, and he said, you know you have a ghost? The same exact line. And I said, well, he or she must be happy because, you know, they haven't met with us because they haven't manifested themselves. And he said it's a she. So I was like...

Caitlen Cameron [00:28:03] Same thing.

Pat Agatisa [00:28:04] The same exact thing. And I said, okay. And I said, yeah, someone else told me that. He goes, Oh, yeah, you have a ghost. So I don't know, it was that day or when he came back, you know, for the... After the estimate and planning what color and all that other stuff. He and I, I know it's kind of crazy because I'm a scientist, you know, I'm an educated woman. You know, I'm an epidemiologist. He and I were standing in the kitchen talking about what color I was going to paint the kitchen, a pretty like light sage green. And the two of us had the sensation of like a cold wash coming from behind us and going out the windows towards the lake to the point that I got goosebumps, and his eyes and I were like, whoa! And I looked at him and I was like, Jeff? And I said, Did you feel? Then he goes, Oh, yeah, that was her. And he said, Don't worry, ma'am, we'll... I'll make sure I do a nice job in the house. You know, it will be beautiful. And he painted the house while I was gone and, you know, at work. And one day he told me he did see her sitting on the couch in the living room in a white dress. So I'm convinced it's Mrs. Green, you know, the original owner. I mean, it's hard for me to say that, but a lot of people that live in Shaker talk about spirits that they feel in their homes. And, you know, if she's there, I hope she's happy with us. But as I said, you know, I've had this house and all the people before me and after me hopefully will... I know the people before me treasured it, and hopefully the people after me will, too.

Caitlen Cameron [00:29:44] Yeah, that's a great story because I've heard that the ghost, like, you know, how there's historic preservation and making sure that house stay the same. I've heard that ghosts are the real historic preservation.

Pat Agatisa [00:30:01] Yeah. [laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [00:30:01] Because they make sure things do not change.

Pat Agatisa [00:30:03] Yeah, yeah. [laughs] Well, it might've been because he was painting, you know.

Caitlen Cameron [00:30:06] Well that's great.

Pat Agatisa [00:30:07] Yeah. Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:30:08] So I guess I kind of wanted to know, you have this garden, right behind your house. Did somebody spot you and working in your garden? How did you get started with Village Garden Club?

Pat Agatisa [00:30:22] Oh, with Village Garden Club? Dozie Herbruck, my neighbor next door. I worked until... She was bugging me about joining but I was working full-time.

Caitlen Cameron [00:30:33] Mhm.

Pat Agatisa [00:30:33] Well not quite full time, but still. No, the days I wasn't working... Maybe I worked 80 percent of the time and the one day I had off, you know, like I had other things to do, including doing the garden. So she invited me to go to a meet[ing].... I retired in November of 2018, and I think the following spring, she invited me to a meeting and little did I know I joined and I became membership secretary within a week.

Caitlen Cameron [00:30:58] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:30:59] You know, because she was short a person. She was the vice president at the time. And I thought membership secretary is kind of crazy... She asked me to be membership secretary because I'm outgoing and I can talk to people. But being membership secretary, [you] also have to know people to invite to join.

Caitlen Cameron [00:31:20] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:31:20] And I had been working for ten years, you know, so my major... Most of my contacts were working women who weren't able to join a garden club because meetings are at, you know, one o'clock on a Monday afternoon. But yeah, I joined at Dozie's encouragement and I knew Sally and Dozie had gotten Sally to join already. So those... They were the two main people I knew when I joined.

Caitlen Cameron [00:31:49] What year was that?

Pat Agatisa [00:31:51] I joined in 2019.

Caitlen Cameron [00:31:54] 2019?

Pat Agatisa [00:31:54] Yeah. So I'm a newbie. [laughs] Okay! Which is crazy that, you know, you're asking me about this but I was membership secretary, and then I assisted the woman who was in charge of the Grove and she stepped down and then I took over taking care of the Grove and gave up membership secretary. Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:32:15] So I know I've interviewed other people that tell me about the Grove, but I want to know what what is the Grove to you?

Pat Agatisa [00:32:24] The Grove is... It's... Oh, it's a beautiful oasis in the heart of Shaker Heights or Cleveland Heights. I mean, it's beyond that. It's, you know, as a Shaker resident, I would, you know, drive by it or walk by at times. Never knew the connection between these beautiful trees and the Village Garden Club. I don't think I even noticed the rock. I just knew that there were trees there. And isn't that nice that they were there? But it's, it's just a respite, you know. It's a place where I see children eating their lunch on the lawn and people walking their dogs and couples sitting on the bench, which my husband and I do now because I feel like, you know, we own it. Not really. But, you know, I'm responsible. Look at how nice that tree is. You know. We're very fortunate that the club members ninety years ago had this... Ninety-one years ago... Had this vision to plan something like that. So, yeah, it's wonderful.

Caitlen Cameron [00:33:30] So you say your position now is to keep up the Grove and make sure... So what does that job entail?

Pat Agatisa [00:33:38] Yeah, little did I know what it entailed. There wasn't much of a job description. It's really maintaining the trees. Make sure they're pruned. I've talked to you about deadheading, you know, cutting off dead wood. We mulch it. Under my purview, I've hired Independent Tree Company. That's the people I met with today. And they fertilize and they're going to do some more work on the Grove. And we plant trees in honor of deceased members or anyone else right now, that's something new, that wants to plant a tree and is willing to donate. I don't know if you want to put that in the record, because that's something that...

Caitlen Cameron [00:34:20] They're working on?

Pat Agatisa [00:34:21] No, it was approved, but with one board member not approving very...

Caitlen Cameron [00:34:27] Ah.

Pat Agatisa [00:34:27] You might have heard, you know, adamantly, but, you know, the majority ruled. So we were approached... Long story, but we were approached by a group of women who went to college together, dormed together at Ohio University, who's one... And they were from out of town. But one of their friends from Shaker Heights died and they wanted to do something in memory of her. And I don't know, through numerous contacts, they found me. They found the Village Garden Club in me and asked if they could plant a tree. So that's going to be happening in the fall. And that was one of the things I was talk[ing about]... I met these group of women when they had the women's memorial and it was really amazing. I felt like I knew them, you know, and they were from Virginia and Texas and like all over. One was from Pittsburgh. She was the one that reached out to me originally, though I didn't know her in Pittsburgh. And when I met them, there was this kinship, you know, and I was really happy to propose to the board that we should accept their donation and plant a tree in memory of their friend. So that is happening in the fall.

Caitlen Cameron [00:35:36] Who's the friend?

Pat Agatisa [00:35:38] Cathy Nesby.

Caitlen Cameron [00:35:39] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:35:39] Alright? She grew up in Shaker. Her mother is older. And in fact, one of our members, Lael Carter, knew her mother. Her mother now has cognitive impairment. You know, I mean, dementia and... Or some level of it. And so these women, you know, are doing something in honor of Cathy. It's really sweet.

Caitlen Cameron [00:36:04] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:36:04] You know? I mean, it was like it's just too bad these women live far away because I would grabbed them for the garden club. [laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [00:36:11] Yeah. Your membership [inaudible] came back in.

Pat Agatisa [00:36:13] Yeah. So what else about the Grove? So the other thing is, you know, I started... I initiated a program called Adopt a Tree because we have now, thirty... Goodness. I can't remember now. We have thirty-nine trees, and it's a lot of work. You know, we weed them, you know, we try to get the stuff out. If there's daffodils growing in the spring, we try to get rid of all the dead leaves and that kind of stuff. And we need somebody to have eyes on the trees so if there's any damage, they can tell me because I can't be there all the time. So, of the thirty-nine trees, about twenty-something, or probably about twenty of them fortunately are adopted, including Brianna [Treleven] and Allison [Henline, from Shaker Historical Society], they have tree number four. [laughs] And they're tasked with weeding, deadheading. Deadheading is when the flowers dry up and kind of tear off the dead blossoms and just keeping an eye on the tree, cutting off suckers. You know, the things that grow off of the roots that, or off the tree branch that just sap the tree of its energy, you know, removing those things and just keeping an eye on it and telling me if anything needs to be done. And it's really been a really great program because prior to me, the woman that was in charge of the Grove, I mean, she worked there, tirelessly, day after day, all the time. You might have heard about her, Karen. And honestly, I don't think, you know, it's a club and the club should be involved. So that's why I started this. And every now and then, I have to send out emails to the people that adopted the trees, like, hey, your tree's become an orphan. You know, it hasn't been cared for lately. Sally says I'm very I'm very tactful about how I reprimand everybody, but I'm the first to reprimand myself because I can't be there as often as you know, I have tree one and two. Here I am. So it's been successful. And funny thing, Dozie and I were there at the Grove one day tending to our trees and this father, young father, and his like four-year-old daughter came along and they asked what we were doing and we told them and they're like, can we adopt a tree? And they did.

Caitlen Cameron [00:38:29] They did.

Pat Agatisa [00:38:30] Yes. And that's Grace and her dad Matt, and they adopted this little magnolia, which she calls little Rebecca.

Caitlen Cameron [00:38:39] Mmm.

Pat Agatisa [00:38:39] And I was there at the Grove another time with Dozie and Sally and some other people, and the Montessori school students were walking through the Grove and we knew their teacher, whose name was totally escaping me right now. But Kate Bennett. And we knew we from the, not the Village Garden Club, the East Side Welcome Club. She had been a member and she was one of the teachers and she was bringing the kids through the Grove to have lunch. And we're like Kate, what are you doing here? She had the middle school kids and she's like, what are you doing here? And we started chatting. And the Ruffing Montessori School has adopted trees as well.

Caitlen Cameron [00:39:17] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:39:17] So each grade has a tree and it's really cute because they've named them... One is Baguette, because we looked they looked into the background of the tree and it's originally from France and they named it Baguette. And another one is, oh, they have crazy names for them. Something. Well, anyway, I can't remember, but it's really sweet and oh, and here they all are, Baguette is one. Oh I can't, I don't have the names, but all the kids in the class. So it's really sweet because they... Oh, Duck. I don't know one why, why one is called Duck but it might be because they have to duck under the branch. Another isn't named. Yeah. So...

Caitlen Cameron [00:40:01] Is it by class or is it by grade? Like say if they move up a grade then they change trees or is that tree with them for the rest...

Pat Agatisa [00:40:11] That tree is with them.

Caitlen Cameron [00:40:12] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:40:12] Yeah. And then once they graduate, a lower class that moves in will adopt that tree.

Caitlen Cameron [00:40:17] Okay.

Pat Agatisa [00:40:18] Kate and I have to work out the logistics because the end of the year is now, you know, the new year's coming in. I said, Kate, I trust you're going to continue this. And she said, don't worry. So, yeah, they have about four trees between them. So...

Caitlen Cameron [00:40:30] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:40:31] It's sweet.

Caitlen Cameron [00:40:34] So so anybody can then adopt a tree now, you so you don't have to be like an organization or like...

Pat Agatisa [00:40:40] No. We have... They have to just kind of be sponsored, as we call it, by somebody in the Village Garden Club, like Sally sponsors Brianna and Allison, and I sponsor the Ruffing Montessori, and Dozie sponsors little Grace and her dad, you know, who take care of little Rebecca. When we started this program, many people were in favor of it and others are very set in their ways and didn't welcome anyone from outside of the club to do this. And, you know, Dozie talked about moving the history of the club. And we're being a little bit more progressive because I think, you know, that the average age, the median age of the membership is probably 80. You know, I'm one of the younger ones, but we do have new members. So that's another story. Have you heard about that? Yeah. And men, a man. Oh, yeah. [laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [00:41:40] Yeah. Several people have mentioned it, but I know that he works for the Cleveland Orchestra. Right? I didn't... A lot of people didn't go into too much detail.

Pat Agatisa [00:41:50] Well, they joined because of the Grove. I'll tell you... What do you call it, Earth Day? No, Arbor Day, this year, which was in April, I planned a Clean Up the Grove day, and anyone was invited, in the club, okay? And at about the same time, somebody on Facebook asked if there were any garden clubs around. And Sally and I, and I think maybe Dozie too, jumped on it, and said, yeah, there's a Village Garden Club. And in fact, we're gonna be cleaning up the Grove, the Cherry Tree Grove on Horseshoe Lake, on Arbor Day. You're welcome to join. And some people said fine, and I don't know how, but maybe we gave them... I can't remember the logistics of how we connected but anyway, three people showed up, along with the Ruffing students and the members that adopted the trees and even people that hadn't adopted trees. We had like thirty people there that day. And it was a miserable, rainy day. It was terrible. But I was like, we have to do it that day. You know, it's Arbor Day, you know, you got to grin and bear it. So one woman, Chelsea, came, and she's probably in her late 30s and she helped do some trees, actually, with Dozie's sister-in-law. Well, former sister-in-law. And they really bonded. And Chelsea ended up joining. And Max and Amber, the husband and wife team, came and they really worked hard. They were in the area where I was working. I think they even cleaned up Brianna and Allison's trees because they couldn't do it and they really worked hard and everything. And afterwards I thanked them. And afterwards, you know, they wrote to me, I gave them... We have this card. Do you have this card? Here. With our village garden club email on it? You know, when I told them about Adopt a Tree on here and if they wanted to adopt a tree, they're welcome to do it. And when they wrote to me, they were like, well, we'd really like to join the club. So, you know, we would jump on Amber. But whether or not Max would be invited was another story. So the process for becoming a member of the club is you have to be nominated by two people, you know, your primary and secondary. So I nominated... I think I nominated Amber and Dozie nominated Max because she got to know him and we took second, you know, the second for the other person and then had to present it to the board. And I, you know, discussed how they avidly got in there gung ho and worked for hours, you know, volunteering and how could you turn them down, et cetera, et cetera. And almost unanimously, once again, the board approved. [laughs].

Caitlen Cameron [00:44:42] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:44:42] Yeah, yeah. There's always a holdout. You know, we don't want to set precedent. And I was like, no, it's not setting precedence. We're moving along. And, you know, and so Max is a member. And we had an informative session prior, you know, when they talked about becoming members, Chelsea and Max and Amber, his wife, actually met at Dozie's house. And I'll never forget Dozie's husband was sitting on the back patio while we were all talking with the membership secretary and then all about the club, and Dozie's husband said, rather profoundly, said, Max, you want to be a member of this woman's Village Garden Club? And he's like, Yeah. And Dave, Dozie's husband said, well, that's fairly groundbreaking. And I said, yeah, pun intended, why not? You know? So he was accepted and during the summer we've had what we call pop up meetings where we go visit each other's gardens and all, and he's come, you know. Yeah, yeah. So we're happy. Honestly, we want to tap their musical skills and maybe, you know, have some kind of get them to perform or whatever. But yeah, they've been great. They've been great. They live in Shaker and Chelsea lives in Shaker too. So...

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:06] That's good. See, I've only heard positive things about them joining and both of them, I mean, like a couple of people said, that's good because, like you said, the demographics for the club are pretty old, like older.

Pat Agatisa [00:46:20] Yeah. Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:20] So having that young, strong man carry things [laughs] and stuff is beneficial, but also just the fact that they're not... The club members want to make sure that they're not this elitist women's-only club, like it's all for the love of gardening.

Pat Agatisa [00:46:41] Yes, yes.

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:42] It's not just...

Pat Agatisa [00:46:43] It's not just the ladies that lunch.

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:45] Mhm.

Pat Agatisa [00:46:45] And honestly, it was founded like that, but that was 1930.

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:49] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:46:50] I don't know if you've seen the names of the founding members, but it's Mrs. whatever.

Caitlen Cameron [00:46:55] Yeah, their husband's...

Pat Agatisa [00:46:55] Their husband's name and you know, but that's how things were then. And it's the 21st century. So, yeah, I'm glad they joined. And it'll be interesting because our first meeting in September... You know, during Covid we didn't really have meetings. They were Zoomed [Zoom] meetings. And actually they joined at the end of the season, you know, the club membership season, and they'll be coming to the first real meeting—the pop-up meetings are different—but the meeting when there's a program and all will be in September so... And it's a tea. [laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [00:47:40] So, what is a tea?

Pat Agatisa [00:47:41] Well, one of the women is having... Inviting us to our home for tea. So you have tea and little cookies and little sandwiches and a tour of her garden and a professional gardener, oh what do they call it? But it's a woman who's... We've gone to see her garden. She's gonna walk around the garden and point out what plants are what, and what they're good for. And, you know, are they annuals or perennials, or, you know, should they grow in the shade or in the sun, or they're native or you should get rid of them and that kind of thing. So, yeah, it might be the first meeting that Max attends...

Caitlen Cameron [00:48:20] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:48:22] You know, where everyone gets to meet him. But before, I mean, the board by our bylaws, if the board approved someone, then that name is sent to the membership for their approval. And the overall approval was yes. No one said no except for the one board member that wasn't willing to do that. So, yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:48:44] That's exciting.

Pat Agatisa [00:48:45] It is. It is.

Caitlen Cameron [00:48:46] A tea sounds [like] so much fun, like...

Pat Agatisa [00:48:48] Yeah, yeah. No, but, you know, it was funny because when we went to... I went to one of the pop-up meetings, garden tours. It was a daylily farm, and he was there and I was talking to him just like, you know, Max, it took a little convincing, but we got you in. And he said, yeah, I told Amber I don't know why I needed to join, because when we went to the other garden tours, there were men there and I could have just dragged along. I said, oh, that wouldn't have been as much fun, you know. [laughs] Yeah. So, tag along. So, yeah, I'm glad. I'm glad. So, it will be fun.

Caitlen Cameron [00:49:27] So, you said that... You said a key thing. That the Garden Club is not just ladies eating lunch.

Pat Agatisa [00:49:34] Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:49:34] So what else do you, what else do you guys do as a group?

Pat Agatisa [00:49:39] We get educated about gardening, we share gardening secrets, we share plants, we share a devotion to the environment and maintenance of our Grove, sustainability, we're getting into now. So instead of planting cherry trees, which are very short-lived and really shouldn't be grown in Cleveland, we're moving to more native plants like magnolias and redbuds and maybe buckeyes, things like that. It's a real... It's sharing a common interest in nature, in the environment, you know, and beautifying, and beautifying the Shaker Lakes area is another one of our missions.

Caitlen Cameron [00:50:27] Do you remember any tips and tricks that you can, like that you learned at one of these meetings or anything?

Pat Agatisa [00:50:34] Yeah, actually, well, I don't know if you know about, well, daffodils, you know, how pretty yellow daffodils are...

Caitlen Cameron [00:50:41] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:50:41] And their leaves at the end get all wilty looking. And you and you often want to prune those leaves away. But the leaves are what feeds the bulb that's in the ground. So one of the tips that our horticulture adviser in the group had suggested is you fold down the leaves and you... It's a crazy thing... And, you know, metal hangers, wire hangers, cut pieces and then just make little tents and just hold them down so that they're not as messy. But they're still there providing, you know, photosynthesis is happening and they're still feeding the bulbs. You know, that's a little thing that...

Caitlen Cameron [00:51:20] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:51:20] I did't know.

Caitlen Cameron [00:51:21] So you don't break them off. You just tuck them?

Pat Agatisa [00:51:23] Yeah. You tuck them and hold them down. And when they get brown, then you can cut them away.

Caitlen Cameron [00:51:28] Hmm.

Pat Agatisa [00:51:28] That's one tip that one of the women shared a few, you know, when I first joined, and I've been doing it in my daffodils ever since. Also irises. I have... I was very fortunate. One of the previous owners of my house, two owners before me, who actually came back to see her garden, talked to me about the fact that the irises in the garden had been planted, had been given to her from her aunt that lived in the South. And they were really beautiful. But I talked to Garden Club members about the fact that they're not flowering as much any longer. And I learned how you're supposed to pull out the tubers and break them apart so they have more room to grow. And when I did that, I would give away my yellow irises. So now they're in Dozie's yard and my neighbor's yard. And it's funny to see my yellow irises sprouting, you know, in my sister's yards in New York, you know, something that I learned that I needed to do. And also to plant more native, you know, is a major thing that I've learned from them.

Caitlen Cameron [00:52:38] Okay. Any advice on vegetables? I know so many people this year got into planting vegetables. I, myself, I...

Pat Agatisa [00:52:45] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:52:47] I just started my own and...

Pat Agatisa [00:52:48] I'm not good at vegetables.

Caitlen Cameron [00:52:52] [Laughs] I've noticed a lot of people in the club, they say the same thing. They're like...

Pat Agatisa [00:52:55] They were flower people. I mean I do have some tomatoes growing and basil, like I told you, I would have to have. It's funny, between my yard and Dozie's, there was a plot of land. And when we, you know, maybe short[ly] after when we moved there, we were having lunch, not lunch, dinner together on my patio. That's kind of between our houses, and my husband, he said, you know it'd be really nice if we had a vegetable garden there. And Jerry and I went on vacation and when we came back, there was a vegetable garden. Dave and Dozie had...

Caitlen Cameron [00:53:28] Planted one?

Pat Agatisa [00:53:29] Planted one [laughs], you know, so and now it's covered with weeds because, you know, we're not there. And every year she still gives me tomato plants and, or she puts them in the garden and now they're overgrown with weeds. The ones that I have growing that have survived are in pots. So, yeah, it's funny that you said other Garden Club members aren't into vegetables.

Caitlen Cameron [00:53:49] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:53:50] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:53:51] I've noticed some, especially when I visit their gardens, it's a lot of flowers, which, I mean, some of their flowers are specific and difficult ones to grow. Like, Sally talks about her night-blooming...

Pat Agatisa [00:54:05] Cerius.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:05] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:54:06] Oh yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:06] And that one, I... I was...

Pat Agatisa [00:54:07] You have to go when it's... Did you see it in bloom?

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:10] I did not. We looked up, she showed me some pictures.

Pat Agatisa [00:54:14] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:14] But...

Pat Agatisa [00:54:15] Yeah, it has its own Facebook page.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:17] I know! Yeah. [laughs] I said...

Pat Agatisa [00:54:20] Dozie has them too.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:21] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:54:21] Yeah. I call them her death plants. I'm like, Dozie, your plant's in bloom. I can smell it. It's, it has a horrible odor. They won't admit that. Or maybe that's just how I smell it. Yeah. So...

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:32] Really?

Pat Agatisa [00:54:33] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:34] She said, I think, I don't remember. I can't quote her. It was a pleasant or distinct smell.

Pat Agatisa [00:54:41] A distinct...

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:42] Yes.

Pat Agatisa [00:54:42] Okay.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:44] But that's interesting. Do you have a favorite plant in your garden?

Pat Agatisa [00:54:51] Irises.

Caitlen Cameron [00:54:52] Irises?

Pat Agatisa [00:54:52] Yeah, when I got married, I carried irises, purple and yellow, and I have purple and yellow irises. The yellow ones were there, and I have been trying to add purple ones here, bearded irises.

Caitlen Cameron [00:55:06] Wow.

Pat Agatisa [00:55:06] Yeah. Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [00:55:09] So, is there anything else you'd like to add about the club, any members that you would love to mention or any events that still stand out?

Pat Agatisa [00:55:20] I think their annual Cherry Tree Luncheon is wonderful and I've only had the joy of attending one because 2019—we didn't, you know, I joined in 2019, 2020 was Covid—I joined after the Cherry Tree luncheon and we had one this past year. I know from the history of the Crove that the Cherry Tree Luncheons used to be held at the Shaker Historic[al] Society but we got too big, you know. And so now it's at the Skating Club, though this year we had it at Horseshoe Lake. No, no, no. We had it at Skating Club and we had a meeting at Horseshoe Lake. I think it's... What I love about it is the women getting together. It's one of the meetings that almost everyone that can attends, we honor the women who died the previous year. Their family members are invited to come. One of the members does a dedication history or, you know, a bio about the deceased member. And then afterwards we go to the Grove to pay homage to that person and to dedicate the tree that was named in their honor. So I think it's a lovely tradition that might be, you know, the women who lunch type tradition. But that's one that I'm sure will continue, though I broadened that by and having, you know, community members dedicate a tree in there in honor of someone. I just feel like we can expand the beauty of the Grove by inviting others, you know, who have similar likes and appreciation, you know, and want to have a memory of their family member or friend, you know, to live on. I plant trees in my backyard in honor of and put in the ashes of my deceased golden retrievers. So, you know, my mother died last year and one of my in-laws, my brother and sister in law, don't gave a magnolia tree to made to plant in honor of my mother. So, you know, to have something continuing to grow in honor of people is just wonderful. And I'm glad that the club will continue that.

Caitlen Cameron [00:57:43] Yeah, I think it's a great tradition that really makes a person's life celebrated and long lasting.

Pat Agatisa [00:57:51] Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [00:57:51] And then they're part of nature and a part of Shaker... [inaudible]

Pat Agatisa [00:57:55] Yeah, yeah, it's true.

Caitlen Cameron [00:57:58] But that's great. Oh, do you see anything for the future of the club? Any changes or anything big that you'd like to say?

Pat Agatisa [00:58:05] We need younger members. You're welcome to join. We need to expand our we need some diversity. I mean, we don't have any African American members. And, you know, I wonder about how we can... I mean, when I was at work, I had African American friends, but they're still working, you know what I mean? It's hard to have to add diversity if you yourself don't have a diverse group of friends. And I feel badly about that. I think Sally Cantor was... Broke grounds because she's Jewish woman. And we have we have had to change the mindset of the women in the club who would always talk about our Christmas party and singing Christmas carols. And I look at them and, you know, Sally is very kind and very sweet and is used to it. But I try to educate them that, you know, we have to be more all embracing, and we have a holiday party. I grew up in Brooklyn. You know, my closest neighbors were Jewish couple who were like grandparents to me. We lived in Pittsburgh and we sent our children to the Pittsburgh public schools. And Brendon went to Shaker school[s] because, you know, at the diversity in the school system and I think we need more diversity in the club, both racially, gender and age. So I think in order for it to be sustainable, that has to happen.

Caitlen Cameron [00:59:42] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:59:43] Yeah. And I think we're on the right track to do that. You know, I hate to be a group of white women sitting together.

Caitlen Cameron [00:59:55] Yeah.

Pat Agatisa [00:59:56] I, I, you know, it's not America, so we have to work on that.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:01] I'm sure it will develop and get more diverse with time. I mean...

Pat Agatisa [01:00:04] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:05] I think everything is more inclusive and more open and like, not saying that the Village Garden Club wasn't before.

Pat Agatisa [01:00:14] Mhm.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:14] But I know now times are definitely like... It feels more comfortable to have people of all races, all genders, all colors, everything in the group.

Pat Agatisa [01:00:25] Right, right.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:25] And I hope, I hope definitely this will... [inaudible]

Pat Agatisa [01:00:28] I hope it does now. We'll work on it. We will. You know, we have to just move. We have to reach out to other garden clubs that might be, you know, willing to, you know, get involved with us. So, yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:42] That's great.

Pat Agatisa [01:00:43] We're moving that way.

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:46] Woohoo!

Pat Agatisa [01:00:46] We got to man! We got somebody under 40, you know. [laughs] So...

Caitlen Cameron [01:00:50] Yeah, well, I guess that should be... We should be almost at the end. Pat, do you have anything else to add?

Pat Agatisa [01:01:00] No, it's been... It's been fun. It's an honor. I feel like, you know, as I said, I'm a newbie in the club, but I feel like I'm a member of a, you know, a group that I'm proud to be a member of and I'm proud to be in charge of the Grove. So I'm happy to share that story.

Caitlen Cameron [01:01:17] It looks truly beautiful. Come check out the Grove if you ever have a chance.

Pat Agatisa [01:01:21] Especially in the spring. Yeah. [laughs]

Caitlen Cameron [01:01:23] Yes, those blooms.

Pat Agatisa [01:01:24] Yeah.

Caitlen Cameron [01:01:24] Thank you.

Pat Agatisa [01:01:27] Okay, thank you.

Project

Shaker Heights Historical Society

Date

8-20-2021

Document Type

Oral History

Duration

62 minutes

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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