Three Oakwood-ites – Jean Woodhull, Cindy Garner, and Cindy’s neighbor who lives along Houk Stream boated-up and headed for Bellbrook last Wednesday to meet-up with their hostess – former First Lady of Ohio – Hope Taft.
Hope and former Gov. Bob Taft live in a delightfully unique house on Lower Bellbrook - overlooking the Little Miami River. Hope, a ‘world-class’ gardener, is enjoying working on the hill-side and meadow below her house.
Hope had invited her friends to a luncheon and garden tour of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden in Bexley. The drive to Columbus was delightful – what with Spring in evidence everywhere. “I think my car could make this drive by itself,” said Hope. “I make this trip so often to consult on the gardens.” As we arrived on Parkview Avenue - Hope was hailed by the police guards who were so glad to see her. The staff of the mansion were so obviously delighted to see Hope and each had to have a hug and a word. It was a beautiful testimonial to a really special Lady.
When First Lady, from 1999 until 2007, Hope had begun an imaginative restoration of the mansions grounds with the idea of creating sections representative of the varied flora in our large and diverse state – from Lake Erie to the Ohio River – from Penn. to the Indiana boarders. This gathering was to present ideas and to offer the beautiful book entitled “Our First Family’s Home” – with a foreward by Gov. Ted Strickland & First Lady Frances. An ‘afterword by Hope Taft, First Lady Emerita, contributions by Guy Denny, Dewey Hollister, Gary Meisner, and Barbara Powers.
Shall we go in the side door?” Hope asked the police man. “No, it’s in the front door today!” And in the front hall was an old friend Dewey Hollister. “Hey, I was just with your ‘mean old in-laws’ last week-end in Sudbury,” said one Oakwood-ite. (Selma & Irv Harris of Cincinnati). “I’m having dinner with them tonight,” answered Dewey – “After I run by Granville to see my daughter Aman at Denison Univ.”
Following the luncheon a tour of the gardens was conducted by Hope and Dewey. It was a botanical, geological, edifying experience. Do you know what the word ‘concretion’ means? Well, the Dayton delegation certainly did not. Someone asked: “What’s that large, perfectly round grayish ‘stone’ over there? “Professor of Geology, Wright State Univ., ‘Bill’ (Maria Gonzalez of WSU’s husband) answered: “It’s a concretion. When this area was a sea floor a small organic piece of matter would be rolled on the ocean floor and would gather materials….that would adhere…and millions of years later would form these ‘balls’. They are found in all sizes …this one is a beauty.”
Friday night at ‘Geez’ was it’s usual rollicking self. Betty and Phil Barnheiser, and the Dick Fishers had a table with a good view of the bank of TV’s showing
The Masters, Derby-Day-qualifying-racers, harness racing, and… A good ‘reminis’ about Fairview High School classes of ’44 and ’45 was held.
Nearby was a big, round, table…Cheri and Rick Ohmer were part of that group. Holding down the bar (near the pop-corn-machine) was Bobby Coughlin. He and Nancy Heck Sternal had a ‘reminisce’ about Oakwood High….classes of…
Ridgeway Road was the scene of a large Whalen Family Easter Reunion. Two of Ginny Whalen’s four children were there….Kathy Kavanaugh and Bill Whalen. None of Kathy and Jim’s four children were there…they’re off at Grad school, Med. School, etc. Both of Bill and Susan’s came – Adam Schantz Whalen and his sister Colleen were busy in the kitchen and ‘serving’. Helen Kavanaugh Jones brought ham – and the most delicious dessert – Helen-made strawberry pie and pecan pie. Can you believe some of the men had servings of both!
Everyone raved about Ginny’s centerpiece – a very large circle of Easter Bunnies around a large bowl – plus lots of smaller rabbits up and down the table. “Years ago I took a ceramics course – and we made these decorations!”
After dinner – everyone was in the kitchen – watching Bill wash dishes and the grandchildren ‘drying’. And the ‘idlers’ all told stories about “Herb”. There were stories about Herb and Ginny’s farm on Penewit Road, and about the Miami Valley Hunt, and …what fun!