Anne de Coningh of Chagrin Falls has been a member of Village Garden Club since 2003. In this interview, she recalls moving from Cleveland to Shaker Heights in the late 1950s, her time as a schoolteacher, skiing and sailing, garden club activities including during the Covid-19 pandemic, the club’s Cherry Tree Grove, club members’ role in stopping the construction of freeways through the Shaker Lakes, her opinions about the Horseshoe Lake dam controversy, and her current leadership of the Chagrin Falls Parks Commission and its role in downtown beautification.
de Coningh, Anne (interviewee)
Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:00] Alright. Today is Thursday, August 19th. We are in Chagrin Falls. It's kind of muggy out. It's a little cloudy, but it's nice. My name is Caitlen Cameron and I'm here with...
Anne de Coningh [00:00:15] Anne de Coningh.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:20] If you could spell that...
Anne de Coningh [00:00:20] Oh, yeah, the Anne is A-N-N-E, and the last name is in two parts, it means King in Dutch, so it's lowercase d-e, then there's a space, capital C-O-N-I-N-G-H.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:36] Alright, thank you. So I guess I just want to start out with some basic stuff, so when were you born?
Anne de Coningh [00:00:38] I was born September [...], 1945, at University Hospitals at McDonald House. I was the first child my parents had. Then I had two brothers. They were each three years apart. After that we lived in the Nottingham area of Cleveland, which is the far eastern part of Cleveland, almost to Euclid, and we had a great time there. My brothers and I grew up on a... Next to a family who raised horses for hunters and jumpers. So we were over there in the barns and feeding the goat, and we didn't really ride the horses very much, but we loved it when they got loose because they'd come running through our backyard and the owner would say, thank God they're wearing shoes. They're going to break a leg when they get out on the street. But they never did. So then. And when I was in eighth grade, my parents moved to Shaker Heights, and we lived in the Onaway school district... The Onaway Elementary School district and my brothers were at Onaway. I was at Woodberry for Junior High, and then I graduated from Shaker High School. And so it was at that time when we, let's see, we moved to Shaker, it was like 1958, I think... And my brothers and I played at Horseshoe Lake a lot and that's my sort of my connection with Village Garden Club because we have this flowering grove, as you know, across from the Shaker Historical Society. And a friend of mine from church whose—I belong to the Church of the Covenant on Euclid Avenue—said, oh Anne, wouldn't you like to join this garden club? And I thought, well, that does appeal to me even though I live in Chagrin Falls. I love Horseshoe Lake and that whole area so that I joined the club in... I think it was... I have to look and see... In 2003. So I've been active in it. Somebody asked me to be president, but I said I can't, I'm too busy with other things. But I was hospitality chair at one point with another woman. I was the horticulture reporter every month until last year. I've been a hostess for a lot of different things, and I've worked in the grove quite a few times to weed and, you know, mostly weeding, planting a few bulbs. And it's a wonderful group. I really enjoy all those women. And this year we have a couple who had seen us working in the beds or under the trees last spring, and the husband said, I'd really like to join the club. So now we have a male member, too. Did you know that?
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:27] Yeah, I think Barbara mentioned it. But that's, I know, that's amazing. How does that impact? Like, how do you feel about a man?
Anne de Coningh [00:03:37] I think it's fine. He's a very nice young man. They both play in the Cleveland Orchestra. And I hope it's the beginning of more men wanting to be part of it, because we could sure use some more manpower...
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:48] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:03:49] Because we're all getting older. [laughs]
Anne de Coningh [00:03:50] I heard that actually, a lot. It's good, it's good. Yeah, I'm glad the Garden Club is adapting and changing...
Anne de Coningh [00:03:56] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:56] With the times and everything.
Anne de Coningh [00:03:59] And we have quite a few new younger members, so that's good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:06] That's great!
Anne de Coningh [00:04:06] Yeah, in fact, when I go to... Because of the pandemic, we haven't been together very much. I mean, we were at the May Cherry Tree Luncheon at the Skating Club and then we went all went to the Grove for two trees that were dedicated. But other than that, we haven't really been together. So everybody's looking forward to getting back together, and I just hope the Delta variant doesn't mess us up again.
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:34] Yeah, I know that's a new thing that really wasn't talked about at the beginning of the summer. How was the Covid year for you guys? Like did, was it, how did you have meetings?
Anne de Coningh [00:04:47] Well, we had Zoom meetings, and they were okay. I mean, I'm on a lot of Zoom meetings for other groups I'm in. And I will say it was better than not having a meeting at all. So we were able to go forward with our programs, and of course we didn't have luncheons. But... I hope we can keep our programs this year. But I was talking with... Now I can't think of her last name... Another garden club member yesterday and we were saying exactly that. We hope we can go on with the meetings.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:31] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:05:31] So...
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:31] Did you, how did you guys maintain the garden, like when you couldn't meet? Did you guys...
Anne de Coningh [00:05:39] Well, we did because it was outside. We were still able to work and, I can't remember if I wore a mask or not. But, you know, it's mostly digging out weeds and pruning, that kind of thing. So, and we have a company that does the major pruning and mulching. We don't do that anymore. We used to. I'm glad. I'm glad we're not doing that again.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:04] When did they stop doing that?
Anne de Coningh [00:06:07] It depends on who is the chair for the Cherry Tree Group... I'm trying to think who it is now... [paper rustling] It's Pat Agatisa. And I think she felt that it was just too much to be asking these old ladies to be spreading mulch, so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:31] Yeah. Well, it still looks beautiful, so, I mean, they're doing a good job.
Anne de Coningh [00:06:35] Have you seen it in bloom?
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:37] I missed the bloom by like a couple, like two weeks or...
Anne de Coningh [00:06:37] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:37] Something because I joined the group right after.
Anne de Coningh [00:06:44] Okay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:44] And I wanted to see it, and I've seen so many pictures, so I'm hoping to catch it next year...
Anne de Coningh [00:06:49] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:49] Which would be great.
Anne de Coningh [00:06:49] Yeah, well, it should be pretty in the fall too, some of those trees are meant to be attractive in the fall. They'll have brightly colored leaves.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:56] Yeah, I visit it probably once a week, so...
Anne de Coningh [00:06:58] Oh, do you?
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:00] [laughs] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:07:00] Oh, good for you.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:01] Shaker, the Shaker Historical Society is right across the street...
Anne de Coningh [00:07:03] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:04] So on my breaks I take a walk over.
Anne de Coningh [00:07:07] Mhm. Oh, that's good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:08] It's so beautiful. I saw the new bench and I've sat there and everything.
Anne de Coningh [00:07:12] Good, I can't tell you how long it took us to get that bench. It was...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:16] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:07:18] Because the City of Shaker Heights had to approve it and, you know, it was expensive and, I mean, we had the money to do it, but it was just...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:26] What did you have to go through to get it?
Anne de Coningh [00:07:28] I was not part of that. But... There was a woman before Pat, who'd been working on this for a couple of years and... Shaker's pretty strict about the consistency of the benches throughout the city so... They had to approve it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:49] Huh... Well, it's a great asset and it's wonderful in there.
Anne de Coningh [00:07:50] Good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:51] And I love the rock that they have too...
Anne de Coningh [00:07:54] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:54] I've take pictures of that...
Anne de Coningh [00:07:55] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:55] I know they placed that a long time ago.
Anne de Coningh [00:07:59] Yeah, it wasn't placed the year the club was founded, but it says, you know, that the club was founded in 1930. So it should say Village Garden Club 1930. But somewhere, something I've read, it tells about when the rock was put in place. Barb Shockey knows all that stuff... She's done wonderful presentations about the club...
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:27] Oh, I know.
Anne de Coningh [00:08:28] Through the years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:30] Do you remember any of the ones that she talked about, like any of the presentations she gave?
Anne de Coningh [00:08:37] [Sighs] Let's see, she did it for one of the Cherry Tree Luncheons... And... She's done it a couple of times, so I think there was one meeting that was just about the history of the club. So... That was good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:04] Okay, let's see. So, I kind of want to trace back just a minute...
Anne de Coningh [00:09:08] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:09] So I know you said you lived in Shaker, so, and you went to school there and everything. Did you, so... When you graduated high school, did you go to college?
Anne de Coningh [00:09:19] Yes, I went to Miami University in Oxford, and I got a degree in elementary education. So I was a teacher for most of my life. I taught, I graduated early from Miami, and my aunt was working at Moreland Hills [Elementary] School, which is part of the Orange School District. You went past it if you came in on Chagrin Boulevard. So she, they hired me to work in the Materials Learning Center in April of 1967, but I already had a job in California, so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:52] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:09:52] I worked there until... I was done straightening it out and then, I went to California in August. I taught in Fremont Elementary School in Fremont, California, which is on the Oakland side of San Francisco Bay.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:11] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:10:11] But I lived right at the edge of Mountain View and Palo Alto. So my roommate and I and another girl, or woman, we'd drive around the end of San Francisco Bay every day to school, and then we'd take her back home across the Dumbarton Bridge and, that was fun because there'd be hunks of saltwater floating around... I mean, literally salt flying through the air.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:37] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:10:37] Mhm. And so I taught sixth grade reading, math and language arts. I had forty-two kids in my math, my reading class.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:45] Oh my goodness. That's a lot!
Anne de Coningh [00:10:47] How can you teach forty-two children?
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:49] Yeah. That's insane.
Anne de Coningh [00:10:50] So it... And I thought the whole world was going to be like Shaker Heights where the parents really cared and they'd come for conferences and, it wasn't like that then. It's better now. But a lot of them were migrant workers and they didn't speak English and here I was trying to teach them how to diagram a sentence or, you know, math facts and... It just wasn't a good fit for me. So, I stayed and practiced my typewriting and I got a job as a secretary for the Fluorocarbon Company in Mountain View. And I did that for about six months and someone stole my car and... I was just really bummed with the whole thing so I thought, you know, I'm throwing away my education by being a secretary. And here my father had paid all that tuition money and I was not respecting it. So I thought, well, I'll come back to Cleveland. So I applied at Orange again and I got a job teaching fifth grade at Pepper Pike School, where I taught language arts, reading and science. So I did that for five years. And then I had a friend who had taught at Hawken School in Lyndhurst and, she was coming back to Cleveland and got a job at Pepper Pike and that's how I became friendly with her. Then she went back to Hawken and, when she found out there was an opening in the fifth grade, I applied for it and got the job. So I taught at Hawken for twenty-five years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:20] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:12:20] And I would have stayed longer but... My first husband died while I was teaching there and then I met my second husband, Ted de Coningh, and he didn't like all the time that I spent on grading papers and doing lesson plans and writing comments and all that and, he would come over here, and I'd say, Ted, you've got fifteen minutes because I have work to do. And he'd stretch it out to a half an hour and I said, you know, I'm going to be up till midnight. And I have to be up by 5:30 [a.m.] as it is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:52] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:12:52] So eventually it took me five years to make up my mind because I had just gotten married three years before... Well, five years before, and... So my first husband died of pancreatic cancer and we'd only been married less than three years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:12] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:13:12] So it was really hard, but... Ted and I got married in 1998, and that's how I got to be in Village Garden Club because I wasn't working anymore. Well, I was working part time, but I could afford to do other things with my time. And so, my friend Susan Dahm, who's a member of the club, approached me after church one day and said, wouldn't you like to join a garden club? And, so that's how I came to Village Garden Club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:41] So did you garden before, like, say when you were out in California and out in here, like how did you get interested?
Anne de Coningh [00:13:47] I didn't garden in California because I lived in an apartment. But when when I met Bob, his name was Robert Wombwell, he was British... He was renovating this house. And in fact, we did most of this. We call this the tea room. And so before we got married, I was helping him in his garden. And my parents were gardeners and they lived a few streets away from here. They'd moved from Shaker. And so I learned from them and asked a lot of questions, and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:21] How old were you when you were learning?
Anne de Coningh [00:14:21] Let's see... I'm trying to think... I was in my early forties.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:30] Early forties?
Anne de Coningh [00:14:30] Because Bob and I got married when we were forty-six, and he died when I was forty... Almost forty-nine.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:41] Wow, see that's amazing because I feel like a lot of women I talked to, they got married so young. And... That's kind of, inspiration because I feel like I have to marry young, too [Anne laughs], so that's...
Anne de Coningh [00:14:53] You don't have to. I mean, I had plenty of opportunities, but I wanted to be in love with my husband and I wasn't in love with the ones who asked.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:02] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:15:02] And the ones I wanted to ask me didn't love me. So, I just thought, well, that's the way it is, and then my mother, who hadn't, she'd only been here for a couple of years, we went to church at the Federated Church across the river... And she said, you know they're starting a new singles group over there. Why don't you go? And I said, Mom, you have to understand, you have a single daughter. I have a good job. I have my sailboat, I race. I got my skis, I can ski anywhere in the country. It's fine. And so she said... To mollify my mother, I went to this singles group. So the first night I was there, I met Bob and... He... He told me where he lived and I said, Oh, you live in the Southmayds' old house. They had moved from here to Carriage Hill where I live up the hill here. And he said, it's not the Southmayds' old house, it's my house. And thought, I think I said the wrong thing and I sort of slinked away and, then the next day I saw him over here in the plaza because I was going to the grocery store. And, so we talked and he had a golden retriever named Rudyard Kipling. So I told him about a book I taught "The Incredible Journey" and I said, this is about two dogs and a cat that go across the Canadian wilderness and you might enjoy it because, when he immigrated from England he lived in and outside of Toronto first. So I, gave him a book and, so our first date was taking Ruddy for a walk in the polo fields, which you were kind of close to when you came in on Chagrin Boulevard. So, I fell in love with the dog first. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:47] Isn't that how it goes?
Anne de Coningh [00:16:48] Yeah! And so we dated for a year or two, or about a year and then we decided we wanted to get married and so, Ruddy went on our honeymoon to Chautauqua.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:01] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:17:02] But Ruddy died the first year we were married, and... So that was hard and... Then in the summer of '94, I had my feet operated on for bunion surgery and I had to be in non-weight bearing casts for each foot for six weeks. And, that was kind of hard living in this house, but I did it, and... When I was just finally able to walk again with crutches after the second foot surgery, then Bob got sick and he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on December 23rd of 1994 and he died April 21st of 1995.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:48] I'm so sorry for your loss.
Anne de Coningh [00:17:48] So, yeah it was hard and, but then I met Ted de Coningh at a Fourth of July party that I didn't want to go to, but I thought I just can't let this ruin my life and so, there was Ted and he was sitting there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:03] [laughs] Arms crossed?
Anne de Coningh [00:18:03] Yeah! and [crosstalk] and grumpy. And I walked in and I introduced myself and I said, I'm a teacher at Hawken School. And he said, oh, I went to Hawken. And I said, Oh, really? When did you graduate? And he said, I'm old. And I thought, well, this isn't starting off very well, not that I was looking to start anything...
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:20] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:18:20] But the next day he came by, and I was out here in front working on the garden because Bob had signed us up to be on a garden tour for the Chagrin Preservation Society [Chagrin Falls Historical Society]... And Ted whistled at me and I, you know [laughs]...
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:37] [laughs] Oh my goodness!
Anne de Coningh [00:18:37] I didn't really think anything of it because I was so intent on trying to get this garden ready. And then he came back and apologized and he said, well I'm going to Rick's Cafe for dinner. Would you like to go with me? And I said, okay, I haven't eaten anything since cornflakes this morning. So we went and it was a restaurant that used to be right at the corner of Main Street and East Orange Street. So I cried through the whole thing telling him about Bob and, his wife had died four months before Bob of lymphoma. And so... We both had that in common that we were, trying to get over a sad time and... So we, started dating and... I can't think, what was the first memorable thing we did... He had a place in Aspen, and he knew I was a skier, that was a qualification I had to have... So he invited me to go to Aspen for spring break and, I thought, I don't know about this but I went, had a really nice time and, then he invited me to a Princeton reunion. And I went to that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:46] So he went to Princeton?
Anne de Coningh [00:19:48] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:48] Oh my goodness.
Anne de Coningh [00:19:48] He went to Hawken, then he went to Exeter, Phillips Exeter in New Hampshire, and then Princeton. So he had a wonderful education, and I got to, enjoy all of those schools for reunions and, so... It was fun. We had a good time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:04] So I want to highlight on this. So you're a skier and a sailor?
Anne de Coningh [00:20:06] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:06] Can you tell me about that? Because that's amazing!
Anne de Coningh [00:20:06] [Laughs] I started skiing when I lived in California. I had two friends who said, meet us in Denver and we'll drive up to Vail. So Vail was the first place I'd ever skied...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:26] Me too!
Anne de Coningh [00:20:26] Oh, really?
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:27] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:20:27] You skied in Vail?
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:28] Yes.
Anne de Coningh [00:20:28] Oh, that's great.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:30] I skied in Vail and Beaver Creek. So.
Anne de Coningh [00:20:31] Yeah... Well, I, when I went to Vail it was in 1968 and there, all there was was Lionshead and a Holiday Inn.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:42] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:20:42] That's all there was. And, so I rented skis and they were racing skis and I just about broke my neck the first thing. [Caitlen laughs] So we skied there for one day and then we went to Snowmass, and Snowmass was just being built. So then I had enough sense to sign up for lessons, so I took skiing lessons, and that was fun and I didn't know that you could get tan when you were skiing. I had had my roommate call in sick to school to say I wasn't going to be there on Friday or Monday because I was too sick.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:21] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:21:21] So I took this long weekend to be in Vail and Snowmass... So I didn't know how I was going to explain this tan that I was coming with.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:30] Oh, you didn't think about that! Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:21:32] And it was not warm in California then, so, but nobody thought a thing of it. So, I came back to Cleveland. I got a roommate with somebody I went to high school with and we joined Suburban Ski Club. And so I learned to ski with Suburban Ski Club. And, I was never a stellar skier but I loved it and, so I skied all over the United States, really, with Suburban Ski Club when I could go...
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:07] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:22:07] And, so I skied in Vail again. Aspen. Snowbird. A lot of places in the east like Holiday Valley and in Canada.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:22] Did you ever go to Boston Mills and these places here?
Anne de Coningh [00:22:24] I did, but, you know, after skiing out west, it's like...
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:29] It's not the same at that, at all [inaudible].
Anne de Coningh [00:22:30] Yeah, and I used to go with the Hawken kids to... Not Brandywine... It's a place out east from here... And the first time I went up the hill, I thought, okay, this is a rope tow. We're going to be getting on a chair somewhere. Well, that was it. But I got to ski free, and then I skied at Alpine Valley with the kids because they needed a faculty sponsor.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:52] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:22:52] So, I kept skiing around here and then, in Aspen I took some lessons cause Ted had a friend from, actually from Exeter and Princeton whose daughter was a ski instructor. So a gift from him was ski lessons.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:11] Hmm.
Anne de Coningh [00:23:11] That was really fun. And we skied... Pretty much all of Aspen except for Highlands. It wasn't part of Ski Co [Aspen Skiing Company] then when we first started out.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:22] Mmm.
Anne de Coningh [00:23:22] It is now, and I have skied at Highlands but I prefer Snowmass and Buttermilk.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:30] So are you, have you ever done like, I'm just asking but like helicopter skiing?
Anne de Coningh [00:23:35] No, I never have.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:35] Or something crazy like that? Have you seen those?
Anne de Coningh [00:23:39] I know about that. I know about the Bugaboos. I have a number of friends who escaped in the Bugaboos. But that's not anything I could do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:47] Do you, are you like, you've done like black [diamond], like the diamonds and stuff?
Anne de Coningh [00:23:52] I pretty much stay away from black diamonds. I mean, I got on one in Snowmass, Snowbird. By accident, I was skiing along, which I shouldn't have done, and it was starting to get dark and I was like, are you going to die in this mountain? And, so I finally just went down on my bottom, because it was too much for me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:15] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:24:16] But, yeah no, I pretty much ski blues and greens.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:21] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:24:21] Because it's supposed to be fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:22] Yeah, that's what I said. So it was my first time this year, and I got dropped off, well, shoved off of the ski lift at the top of the mountain.
Anne de Coningh [00:24:33] Where?
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:34] At Beaver Creek, that was my very first time. And my boyfriend pushed me off and said, figure it out. [Anne sighs] I cried and cried and cried so much and, but we stayed there four days and by the end I was doing some blues with him and...
Anne de Coningh [00:24:50] Yeah, that's great.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:50] But I had no idea how to stop. I had no idea how to go. So, but yeah that's amazing.
Anne de Coningh [00:24:57] Well, you were a good sport to do that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:00] I cried a lot, but yes I made it through. [Anne laughs] I'm a stubborn person, but that's just...
Anne de Coningh [00:25:04] Yeah, I am too. But I, and I love skiing. I wish I could go out again, but I've got osteopenia now and I've got two new knees, and, I don't want to ski with snowboarders. I just don't.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:17] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:25:17] I mean they carve those deep grooves, and they're out of control. And, they used to not allow them on Aspen Mountain, but you know, money.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:27] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:25:27] So Ski Co allowed them on all the mountains and so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:32] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:25:33] But, you know, I'm just going to be glad I can walk instead of ski too.
Anne de Coningh [00:25:37] You should do some of the ones where they move back and forth. That's what I do, I loved those ones.
Anne de Coningh [00:25:43] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:45] And the snowboarders don't like them because they can't turn.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:47] Oh yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:48] So you could always...
Anne de Coningh [00:25:49] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:49] Do that, just for fun... [inaudible]
Anne de Coningh [00:25:51] Yeah, I'd like to go back, but I doubt that I will. But Aspen, we had a place there. Right... Are you familiar with Aspen?
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:00] A little bit. I have family in Fort Collins.
Anne de Coningh [00:26:00] Uh huh.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:00] So, I have been out, and around the...
Anne de Coningh [00:26:00] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:00] Whole state... [inaudible]
Anne de Coningh [00:26:08] Well we lived right at the foot of Aspen Mountain, and when Ted first brought his condo in 1968, you could ski from Little Nell right to the back of the building. But that's all changed now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:22] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:26:22] But we lived right across from the [Aspen] Grog Shop and City Market, so we could walk over there and, Ted's oldest son was trained as a professional chef, so I'd say, I'm going to Aspen with my chef [laughs; crosstalk]. So friends and I would go over and get the food for, you know, what we were going to have and, sometimes Ted would rent two other apartments in our building so all of his kids and grandchildren could be there and we would have spring break in March.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:52] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:26:52] 'Cause my break, our breaks were always the last two weeks of March, so it was fun. We had a really good time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:26:58] So, I guess I'm kind of like, what does he do [inaudible]?
Anne de Coningh [00:27:03] Ted?
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:04] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:04] Well, he's deceased now.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:06] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:06] He died two years ago.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:08] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:08] His family owned Mueller Electric. His grandfather invented the alligator clip, which is like a clothespin, but it's for temporary electrical test connections.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:17] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:18] I can show you one, but I don't want to stop this interview but... They range from little tiny ones to, like, jumper cables.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:27] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:27] He made a fortune from those.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:29] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:30] So Mueller Electric was their company and Ted eventually was president. So...
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:35] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:27:35] That's how that worked.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:38] Sorry, I just want to back[track] further because I'm amazed at all of the things you guys have done together, and accomplishments and so I wanted...
Anne de Coningh [00:27:45] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:45] To give you a... [inaudible]
Anne de Coningh [00:27:46] And we did a lot of traveling. We went to the Galapagos and Peru one year. We went on a Baltic cruise. We did a cruise of the Great Lakes. We did a cruise... From New York down to... North Carolina, I think it was.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:06] Really...Did you ever, I know you said you were a sailor, did you ever sail through the locks? I've always wanted to do that.
Anne de Coningh [00:28:11] I've been through the Sault Sainte Marie Locks when we went on the Great Lakes cruise, but I'd been up there before with my family. But I have a sailboat in the garage. It's a Laser, it's a 14-foot sailboat...
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:21] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:28:21] That I bought after I had crewed at Mentor Harbor Yacht Club for a number of years, and... I really liked it, but I was always the crew and never the skipper.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:34] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:28:34] So, and I also crewed for someone who sailed Hobie Cats, and that was fun, I liked that. But I finally said I need to get my own boat. So I researched boats that I could manage myself, that I could wrestle on and off the trailer. So I raced my Laser on Lake Erie. I took it to Canada to Kukagami Lake and I took it down to some place in West Virginia. But I mostly raced it on Lake Erie.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:07] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:29:07] And sometimes just sailed for fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:08] Yeah. Do you ever still sail?
Anne de Coningh [00:29:11] I don't, because I've got problems with my back now and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:14] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:29:14] I'm just, and you know you have to hike out on those boats and, I don't want to ruin my new knees.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:20] Yeah, I have always wanted to learn. My boyfriend [inaudible] is a, he sailed growing up and did sail camp and everything and, he just sold his sailboat, it was a little one. But, I've always wanted to know, because it looks so beautiful out there [inaudible].
Anne de Coningh [00:29:37] Yeah, it's really fun... I would sell you my sailboat, if you want it, I mean, the tires in the trailer are flat, but... Otherwise, it's in the garage, it hasn't been out in the weather. But it's...
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:56] You are a woman of many skills. [Anne laughs] I am amazed! I mean, that's in the grant for this project is, so many women in this [club]... They're not just gardeners.
Anne de Coningh [00:30:05] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:05] Like you guys have whole lives of things you've done and things you've accomplished and I think it's truly amazing. I guess I want to know... I know you said that Ted had a son that was a chef.
Anne de Coningh [00:30:17] Mhm!
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:17] Did you ever grow vegetables in your garden and, like, give them to him to create?
Anne de Coningh [00:30:21] No, because this has been a shade garden until last year. There was a big ash tree in that next door neighbor's garden. So I never had enough sun to grow vegetables.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:33] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:30:33] And I never had, I don't know, the interest in doing it. I mean, I mostly would have grown tomatoes and... There was never a place that was sunny enough to do that. And we had problems with deer, too, and I...
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:46] Oh really?
Anne de Coningh [00:30:46] I'd just soon go and buy them at the grocery store. And now I have a friend who lives at Hamlet [at Chagrin Falls]. Actually, his wife was in Village Garden Club, and he's been bringing me tomatoes, so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:56] Who was his wife?
Anne de Coningh [00:30:57] Carol Mock.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:59] Carol Mock, okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:31:00] She died two months after Ted died.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:03] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:31:03] So, his name is Clay Mock, and... I went to the service for Carol at Fairmount Presbyterian and then they had the reception at the Hunt Club and, we had the reception for Ted at the Hunt Club, too. It's the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club, and... So I walked in and I said to Clay, I was standing right where you were two months ago, and... So now we've gotten to be friends.
Anne de Coningh [00:31:29] So what was, so she was involved in the garden...
Anne de Coningh [00:31:33] Mhm!
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:33] Club too? So, do you know how long she was a member or anything about her?
Anne de Coningh [00:31:37] She was president at one time. [paper rustling] Let's see... She was president from 1977 to 1979. But I don't, I probably have another directory that tells when she joined, but she was a longtime member. Really a nice person. And she was pretty accomplished, too. She was in charge of the antique shows at the [Shaker] Historical Society and lots of different things. You know we have amazing women in our club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:12] Yeah. Do you have any memories with her? Like, did you know her...
Anne de Coningh [00:32:16] Yes [laughs]. Bobbie Farrell used to have a place called The Green Man, and it was somewhere outside of Wooster, Ohio.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:28] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:32:28] So she invited everybody in the club to come down there and see her place and have lunch there. So I said, okay, I'll drive Carol and, there were a couple other people in my car. And we all met at Van Aken Center and I drove, but I got lost outside of Wooster. And Carol was pretty familiar with that area because their son, Rob, went to [College of] Wooster. Well, we finally got there, but it was late and I was so apologetic. But, I'm sure she thought I was a nitwit, but she was nice enough. She didn't say anything.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:04] Mhm... Bobbie is a sweetie...
Anne de Coningh [00:33:04] Yeah, she is.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:06] She would never say anything [laughts]. But that's cool. Did you guys... So did you garden together here or did you mostly just work together [crosstalk]...
Anne de Coningh [00:33:14] At the Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:14] At the Grove?
Anne de Coningh [00:33:14] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:17] Do you have any other good memories from the club, like things that stand out, I guess, or events or speakers or anything?
Anne de Coningh [00:33:29] Well, I always enjoy it when Helen Schreiber does her flower arranging classes. I mean, she's fabulous.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:36] What does she do?
Anne de Coningh [00:33:38] Well, she's a professional flower arranger, and she's a good friend of mine from church. Cathy Miller is also a professional flower arranger. And, in fact, Helen's going to be doing a program at my church, I think, in November.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:57] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:33:57] Mhm. So I've always enjoyed that and... Trying to think what else we've done that... Well, I always like the Cherry Tree Luncheon at the [Cleveland] Skating Club, and then the dedication at the grove. And it's fun to work with the Grove too. We always have a good time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:15] Can you describe the Cherry Tree Luncheon? Like what that's like?
Anne de Coningh [00:34:23] I'm trying to think how many... This last one we had maybe fifty or sixty people. Which was the first thing I'd gone to since the pandemic.
[00:34:35] I was a little bit nervous about it because, you know, I hadn't been around a lot of people at all.
[00:34:41] And so Clay Mock's daughter-in-law wanted to go because... Carol was so nice to her. Laura's mother died two weeks before she got married to Rob Mock.
[00:34:55] And Carol invited all of Laura's friends to come and stay at their house on Fontenay Road in Shaker and... I mean, she had a wonderful relationship with Carol. So, Rob couldn't come, but Laura picked up Clay and then she picked up me and we went to the luncheon. And then there were speeches at the end about the people who had passed away, because we dedicate trees to the members who've passed away, and since we hadn't been able to meet year before, we had two trees. And so, Susan Dahm gave a speech about Carol Mock. I'm trying to think, who the other, I can't remember the other ones but, there were at least three or four people that we extoll. And then everybody drove over to the grove and, there was a dedication and, it was quite moving.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:50] Are those, so are the dedications like really emotional for, like, the club? Cause, I mean, you're honoring these women.
Anne de Coningh [00:35:58] Yeah, they are emotional.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:03] Okay. I always wondered, like, I know I read in the past that you should do a single tree for each person.
Anne de Coningh [00:36:08] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:08] And then they change it because of room...
Anne de Coningh [00:36:11] Right, right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:15] So they decided to do several. But it's a great way to honor the members...
Anne de Coningh [00:36:18] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:18] And all the work they put in.
Anne de Coningh [00:36:19] Right. And we're still trying to remember for whom each one was dedicated because we kind of lost track of that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:25] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:36:25] But, I think Pat Agatisa was trying to sort that out and know that the trees are numbered and, so I think Kathleen Tripp and I share a tree. I should be over there weeding. But, yeah, it's such a good group. I'm looking forward to being with them again this year.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:47] Thats great! I'm trying to think... Where did they plant the newest trees? Is it like, on the borders, or is it just, wherever there's room?
Anne de Coningh [00:36:59] It's wherever there's room, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:05] Oh, so since we're talking about the Grove, I guess I wanted to get your opinion, too, on Horseshoe Lake and what's going on. I know...
Anne de Coningh [00:37:10] I'm so disappointed. I can't tell you how disappointed I am. I mean, after all the years I spent there with my brothers, and... We used to, there was a wading pond over in the park there. And my mother would always say, okay, you're just wading.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:27] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:37:27] And we always went swimming. But I love that lake and... I found it a little bit enough to know that they just can't possibly afford repairing that dam.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:40] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:37:40] So they're just basically going to let it go back to its natural state, which is such a shame. And I don't know what's going to happen to the Lower Lakes then.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:55] Yeah. Do you think it's going to affect the grove at all?
Anne de Coningh [00:38:00] I don't think so. I think we'll still maintain it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:03] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:38:03] It shouldn't affect it. We haven't been able to get close to the lake for quite a while.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:10] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:38:10] And there's a lot of poison ivy along there, too, so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:13] Oh, yeah, I saw I saw quicksand signs...
Anne de Coningh [00:38:16] Oh, really?
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:17] Yeah, and I was like, I am staying away from that. [laughs]
Anne de Coningh [00:38:19] Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, it was so beautiful when I was growing up and we just loved it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:25] Mmm.
Anne de Coningh [00:38:25] And my brothers always had their birthday parties at Horseshoe Lake. So, and, you know they always had squirt gun fights and all those kids went in the wading pond, too. But we have a lot of good memories of being over there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:43] What did it used to look like? Because I've only seen it like it looks, like now.
Anne de Coningh [00:38:46] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:46] Like how would you describe it to a person who has never seen it before?
Anne de Coningh [00:38:49] I would say it was a clear lake in a horseshoe [shape]. And when I was in college, I worked at the Onaway play school and I had a group of fifth and sixth graders that we, you know, we did all kinds of activities with, and I had to do that as a summer job for my teaching requirements. And so I would take a group over to Horseshoe Lake, and we'd pretend we were Indians or something like that and have a picnic over there and it was fun. But yeah, it was a clear sparkling lake.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:28] So if it's shaped like a Horseshoe was there, like, access to the middle? Or was it...
Anne de Coningh [00:39:33] That's where the park was.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:36] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:39:36] Yeah, if you drive over to the park, well you can walk over, but you'll see, yeah... Where the park and, you know, the pavilions are and the picnic tables, that's the part that sort of makes it into a horseshoe.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:52] And newer kids today, they have the Nature Center there, right, like...
Anne de Coningh [00:39:59] You mean on South Park?
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:02] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:40:02] The Nature Center was built while I was in college...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:08] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:40:09] Because Albert Porter wanted to build a freeway, you know the story, through the Shaker Lakes and it was just going to ruin it. So people in my garden club and members of, you know, residents of Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights got together to fight it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:27] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:40:27] And one member of our club... She was a president at one time… [paper rustling] Catherine Fuller. She invited Stewart Udall, who was the head of the Department of the Interior, to come and see what Porter was planning to do, and he put a stop to it, thank goodness.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:02] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:41:02] And the building of the Shaker Nature Center was kind of the way to keep it from ever happening again.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:09] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:41:09] And that was a Rockefeller land grant, I think that whole area. And that was partly how they were able to stop it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:16] So you were in college when all this was going on?
Anne de Coningh [00:41:18] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:18] That's amazing! So do you, so, I guess I want to know, like what you remember... I guess, from the area before, before that because...
Anne de Coningh [00:41:29] Before the Nature Center [at Shaker Lakes]? Honestly, I don't remember. I mean, we went that way to go to church, but... You know, because it's back in there in the woods, you wouldn't really be aware of it as you were driving on South Park to North Park. But I go by it every Sunday or when I'm going for meetings for session [at church].
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:53] Does that, does the whole area right there look different now? Like is it developed different? Or is a lot of it still the same [inaudible] back there?
Anne de Coningh [00:42:04] I think it's gradually increased over the years. We occasionally have our meetings there, which I always enjoy.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:15] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:42:15] It's a really special place. Shaker's lucky to have it. I think part of it is Cleveland Heights, too, because you know, Barb Shockey lives right across from it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:24] Yeah. She has a beautiful home.
Anne de Coningh [00:42:27] Mhm, she does.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:31] But that's interesting because almost everybody has lived outside of the area, so to have somebody who grew up there and knows the development...
Anne de Coningh [00:42:37] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:37] Throughout time. It's pretty interesting because, I don't know, I feel like a lot of those houses seem like they've been there for years. So...
Anne de Coningh [00:42:48] Yeah, they have! But I think where the Shaker Nature Center was just a natural place...
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:53] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:42:53] I mean... I'm trying to think how that all worked. I'm pretty sure that was part of a Rockefeller land grant. Just like when you go on Martin Luther King [Jr.] Drive, that used to be called Rockefeller Park.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:23] Oh, really?
Anne de Coningh [00:43:23] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:23] Do you think...
Anne de Coningh [00:43:23] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:23] Oh, go ahead.
Anne de Coningh [00:43:25] Well, you know, it [Horseshoe Lake] used to be called Hampton Lake, and it's owned by the City of Cleveland. So I think Shaker Heights pays a dollar or something a year to Cleveland for the privilege of using it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:52] Really?
Anne de Coningh [00:43:52] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:52] Hmm, I didn't know that.
Anne de Coningh [00:43:52] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:52] How would you, how do you think if, say if the Clark-Lee Freeway would have gone through that area, how do you think it would have impacted everything?
Anne de Coningh [00:44:01] It would have cut Shaker Heights in half...
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:03] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:44:03] For one thing. It would have destroyed the scenic beauty. I mean, it would have been a really bad thing.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:14] Did your family live close? Like, where did your family live in Shaker?
Anne de Coningh [00:44:18] We lived on Braemar Road. It's the street that runs behind the Shaker Heights City Hall.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:22] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:44:22] So, it, we could walk to school when my brothers went to Onaway. I went to Woodbury and then we all want to Shaker [Heights High School], but it was, our street ran from Fernway to Clayton. So, and the reason my parents wanted to live there was that my father could walk to the Van Aken Rapid. And he was an attorney for a bank downtown, so he could go to work on the Rapid.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:50] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:44:50] And then my parents just had to have one car. And we could walk to school, so it worked out really well.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:58] Yeah, the freeway would have definitely changed it a lot and...
Anne de Coningh [00:44:59] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:59] I cannot imagine it the same as today at all... That's crazy.
Anne de Coningh [00:45:10] I can't either, it would have been a real travesty.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:17] Well, I guess I kind of want to ask you one more thing. So you've been involved with the garden club, you said since...
Anne de Coningh [00:45:27] 2003.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:27] 2003. I guess, how has it changed you? How is it, how do you think it has developed you, I guess, and how have you grown?
Anne de Coningh [00:45:41] Well, I think it's taught me a lot about gardening, which is a good thing because now I'm chairman of the [Chagrin Falls] Parks Commission and co-chair of Beautification [Committee] for all the flowers in the downtown of Chagrin Falls for the beds and the urns. And you've got to have some knowledge to be able to do those things. So I think, yeah, it's taught me a lot.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:06] How did you get selected as those positions?
Anne de Coningh [00:46:09] Well, I started out in beautification... There was a renovation of the main streets in Chagrin Falls. Let's see, it was... Almost twenty years ago, not quite, and there were two... Well, what they wanted to do was bury all the power lines so they weren't holes in Main Street and Franklin Street. And so CT Construction was in charge of that, and so then they made these little places called bump outs where there could be garden beds, and they put cotoneaster in those beds. Well, cotoneaster is a shrub that catches every leaf in town, and they were just terrible to take care of.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:03] Mmm.
Anne de Coningh [00:47:03] So Connie Degood and Wendy Naylor were friends, started up a beautification committee. And, I don't know how they, I guess, oh I know, this house had been on a garden tour, and so they knew I was sort of knowledgeable about gardening. So they asked me to be on Beautification. So I was just one of the worker bees for a long time, and then, they were tired of being co-chairs and Connie moved to Columbus and Wendy was busy with other things. So they got me, Janine Bauman next door, and another friend, Beth Skeel, to be co-chairs. So we are co-chairs for a whole army of people who take care of the garden beds and the urns.
Caitlen Cameron [00:47:46] Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:47:46] And so, while I was on that, then somebody who's on Village Council said, well, why don't we ask Anne to be on the Parks Commission. So I thought, okay, I can do that. That would be a good thing for the Village. Never guessing I was going to become chair [Caitlen laughs]. So now I have to write the agenda and figure out what's going on in each of the parks that needs attention. And we just are purely an advisory body. I mean, we give suggestions to the Service Department...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:18] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:48:18] And the Council but, you know, it still takes time and energy and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:22] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:48:22] So, I get caught up in that, and I'm also secretary for the Friends of the Chagrin Falls Library, which is just down the street. So when you parked in the church parking lot, you probably saw the library.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:35] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:48:35] So I can just walk down there and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:38] So, how many parks are in [inaudible]?
Anne de Coningh [00:48:42] In Chagrin?
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:42] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:48:42] There are five main parks and then there are some other smaller ones. So there's probably nine or ten.
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:53] Wow, and you have to write an agenda for each one?
Anne de Coningh [00:48:53] Well, an agenda for the meetings, but I have to be mindful of what's going on, where the stairway to the falls are, the landing there... There's the Vincent Street arboretum over there is going to be redone. Yeah, so I always have something to do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:15] [Laughs] Yeah, you're definitely a busy body, never slowing down.
Anne de Coningh [00:49:19] [Laughs] And I'm also an elder at the Church of the Covenant, which is the church I grew up in. It's on Euclid Avenue across from University Hospitals. So, and that, I prefer being a deacon because that is, you know, helping take care of people. But the session is running the church, and I'm not good at that. I mean, I'm still trying to figure it out.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:42] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:49:43] I mean, I'm on a couple of committees, one of which is membership, which is very daunting because all the churches have lost membership.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:51] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:49:51] And we're trying to figure out how to get people to go there. And, you know, if I hadn't grown up in Shaker Heights and gone to that church, I wouldn't be going all the way from Chagrin Falls...
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:02] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:02] Down there. But it's my church. It's where I have to go.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:08] It's part of your life.
Anne de Coningh [00:50:08] Mhm. I was in the first handbell choir in the city of Cleveland there. And we played with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Christmas concert, and we traveled to Ipswich, Massachusetts for the American Conference of Handbell Ringers. Did that a couple of times and, we performed at various places but we weren't very good.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:31] Oh.
Anne de Coningh [00:50:31] No, we weren't, we didn't really know what we were doing, but it got better as it went along [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:36] Well, that's good at least. [Anne laughs] So at least you could say you improved.
Anne de Coningh [00:50:39] Yeah, and we have a really good bell choir now. Trying to think, what else have I done? [drumming on table] I'd like to be skiing again, but I don't think that's in my future.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:01] I think you can do it.
Anne de Coningh [00:51:02] I think I could do it, but I don't know if I fall, if I'm going to break a hip or something.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:09] Find something small. Something like, just like a light green, nothing crazy. Just something... Like there is one in Beaver Creek that was called the Cinch, and I loved that trail. I took it like five times in our trip and it was just, it was gradual... [inaudible] No rough turns, and I didn't fall. There's people walking on it... [crosstalk]
Anne de Coningh [00:51:30] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:30] So... [crosstalk]
Anne de Coningh [00:51:31] Oh, really?
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:32] Yeah, I think...
Anne de Coningh [00:51:33] I wonder if I've ever skied, I have skied at Beaver Creek, too, but we usually just stayed in Aspen. Or Snowmass was about as far as we went, but Beaver Creek is Vail, right?
Caitlen Cameron [00:51:46] Right, right next, yeah...
Anne de Coningh [00:51:50] Yeah... Yeah, my husband's cousin, Louis Ralston, had a place in Edwards, a really beautiful house, and the lower floor was meant for all their grandchildren. They had a kitchen down there. Lockers for all their stuff. Plenty of room so they didn't mess up the whole rest of the house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:09] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:52:09] And we stayed there once. But I don't think, that was after our honeymoon, so we were there in the summer. But have you ever been out there in the summer?
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:20] Mm-mm, never been out there in the summer. I've only ever stayed in the Fort Collins or Denver area.
Anne de Coningh [00:52:21] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:21] That type of area. I went to Garden of the Gods [Park], and...
Anne de Coningh [00:52:28] [crosstalk] Oh, that's fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:30] You do all the, all the stuff...
Anne de Coningh [00:52:32] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:33] The bucket list stuff, but. No, I haven't, I want to, but...
Anne de Coningh [00:52:39] Someday.
Caitlen Cameron [00:52:41] Someday.
Anne de Coningh [00:52:42] Well when Ted and I had our place in Aspen, we would go for two weeks in March. Then we'd go again for two weeks in July, for the Fourth of July, and then we'd go again for two weeks in the fall. And I loved every one of them. I mean, in the fall, all the turistas were gone. So it was just the regulars. And we had our books. I had a library card at the Pitkin County Library and we'd go on hikes and have picnics and at night we'd sit after dinner and read by the fire. And it was fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:11] Wow.
Anne de Coningh [00:53:11] It was really fun. And the Aspens are just gorgeous in the fall. [crosstalk] They're like little yellow pennies shimmering. You would love that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:21] Now I have to go back again.
Anne de Coningh [00:53:23] You do!
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:27] For the fall. That's amazing. I've been to Idaho in the fall, and that was...
Anne de Coningh [00:53:27] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:53:27] That was insane. It was just beautiful. But, yeah, if anybody is listening, go [Anne laughs], watch out, don't be a tourist, but definitely go check out Aspen in the fall.
Anne de Coningh [00:53:44] I've skied in Idaho, too, at Sun Valley, but I don't think I've ever been there in the... I've been there in the summer camping with my family when I was a kid, but I've never been there as an adult in the summer. But skiing at Sun Valley was fun, too, if you ever get the chance to do that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:00] Yeah. I want to go back because Idaho has the best stars. The most wide open, besides Montana...
Anne de Coningh [00:54:02] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:02] And if you go north, like past Boise, past Coeur d'Alene...
Anne de Coningh [00:54:11] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:11] I went out there and, it was like looking at like a sandy beach, you know what I mean? Like sparkles in a... [crosstalk]
Anne de Coningh [00:54:23] Uh-huh.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:23] It was like that was the sky.
Anne de Coningh [00:54:26] Oh, how neat! I would love that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:54:28] So, that was, I was staying in a cabin, it was forever in my memories.
Anne de Coningh [00:54:35] Mhm... You know, I can remember skiing at Boyne Mountain in Michigan at New Year's. And one time it was seventeen below zero, and our lift tickets were coming unglued from the little, you know, the little metal hanger. But, you know, when you're so far north, there's no competition from city lights and you see all those stars and think, they're there all the time but we can't see them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:02] We can't see them! I know, it's crazy.
Anne de Coningh [00:55:03] I loved that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:05] It's the same sky. Just...
Anne de Coningh [00:55:07] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:07] Different place.
Anne de Coningh [00:55:09] They had these one-horse open sleigh rides, and, so they'd have a couple of sleighs and we'd go out in the dark and look at the stars. It was really fun.
Caitlen Cameron [00:55:20] Wow. See, now you're adding things to my bucket list [Anne laughs; inaudible]. So we're coming to the end of the interview, and I kind of wanted to go back and say, was there anything else you'd like to add about the Village Garden Club? Maybe like, what you see for the future or anything else? About members or anything you'd like to add?
Anne de Coningh [00:55:45] I see us, you know, lasting a long time. I think we have a lot of good members and people are working hard to find new ones and younger ones. And now that we've admitted a male, maybe we'll get more men who will want to do it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:00] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:56:00] I mean, I think there must be some who'd like to.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:06] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:56:06] And we're not fussy. We're not, you know, frivolous at all. I don't think.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:14] Yeah, I think people perceive the garden club as these women that are like, oh like, I need a perfect garden and I need this, I need this. I don't know, high society...
Anne de Coningh [00:56:24] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:24] View. But I mean, everybody is laid back. Everybody that I've talked to has been so kind and, you know, definitely sign up. Or look for your own garden club in your area.
Anne de Coningh [00:56:37] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:37] But I really hope they add more men, and more men like to join...
Anne de Coningh [00:56:43] Mhm.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:43] And things grow, grow with the program.
Anne de Coningh [00:56:48] And I like being part of it because it keeps me connected with Shaker and then University Circle because I don't want to lose that connection.
Caitlen Cameron [00:56:56] Mhm.
Anne de Coningh [00:56:56] And I keep thinking, okay, what happens when I can't live in this house anymore because the steps are steep? Where would I go? And I keep thinking, well, I'd probably go maybe to Judson, at Judson Manor because it's close to the art museum, Severance Hall, my church, Museum of Natural History.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:18] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:57:18] I don't know. We'll see what happens.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:21] Well, thank you so much for your time. And, I forgot to ask you at the beginning, do you consent to this recording...
Anne de Coningh [00:57:28] Oh, yes. I do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:30] And with the storing of it? Okay.
Anne de Coningh [00:57:31] Absolutely.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:31] I forgot to ask and I...
Anne de Coningh [00:57:33] Yeah. You said you were going to.
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:34] I know, I know, and I usually remember, but this time I forgot. Thank you for your time...
Anne de Coningh [00:57:39] You're welcome!
Caitlen Cameron [00:57:41] And allowing me to be at the [your] home, and yeah, we're going to go see your garden after this and I can't wait!
Anne de Coningh [00:57:48] Good! Good! It's pretty full of weeds and the grass has died in a lot of places because it was so hot and dry for such a long time. And I don't know what's the matter with my grass. I'm very frustrated.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:04] [Laughs] It's ok.
Anne de Coningh [00:58:04] My next-door neighbor is the gardener. She's really very talented. And she's the one who's figured out, see those flowers along the river there?
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:13] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:58:14] There are four boxes that, there are these steps along there where people go and feed the ducks. And so Janine and I, well, this Riverside Park is my responsibility. But she figured out the planting scheme for those boxes...
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:30] Oh!
Anne de Coningh [00:58:30] And for urns too, so. She's a nut about gardening.
Caitlen Cameron [00:58:38] They look beautiful.
Anne de Coningh [00:58:38] They look better this year than they ever have, and I think it's because we've had so much rain because usually the service department doesn't water them enough. So then I end up going with, you know, jugs of water and it's never enough. This park is going to be torn up in October because we got a grant from the State of Ohio to replace the brick walk that you can see that person walking on. A hundred thousand dollars from the State of Ohio. And it's going to go right through this playground, which has been there since I went on Parks [Commission] fifteen years ago. And I'm not happy about the fact that they're going to go right through the playground.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:24] Why would they do that?
Anne de Coningh [00:59:27] They want to have, I think it's a ploy by some people. I don't really know for sure. They, the parents in the Village think it's too old. It's only fifteen years old.
Caitlen Cameron [00:59:37] Yeah.
Anne de Coningh [00:59:37] But, you know, if you're thirty-five years old, I guess fifteen years old sounds old. So we have interviewed six designers. The Parks Commission decided on the final recommendation to the Council. The Council chose it, the one that we chose. And he has to come up with a new design. So it'll be interesting.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:05] Yeah, I hope they reuse the playground.
Anne de Coningh [01:00:07] Yeah, we're going to try to move it down to River Run Park, which is another park on Solon Road. So, but there's some concern about whether they can be safely reinstalled. But there's nothing wrong with the equipment at all. I mean, the railings on the where the slides are, the paint is kind of rubbed off, but they're perfectly fine.
Caitlen Cameron [01:00:32] Yeah, that can just be touched up.
Anne de Coningh [01:00:33] Yeah. So. That's what's happening there. [recording ends]
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"Anne de Coningh interview, 19 August 2021" (2021). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 918006.