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Aldrich and his beautiful blooms

Writing the story of Robert (Bob) Aldrich is a special treat. Partly because I have known him many long years, partly because I know he has a wide variety of experiences and interests, all of them people-oriented and interesting.

Bob was born to Paul and Marie Aldrich in 1925 in Wrightstown, hardly a wide spot in the road. While Paul's Mercantile was the only store, it filled the bill. His inventory ran from clumsy big tractors, to candled fragile eggs, or a selection of lace dainty enough to border milady's pillow slips.

Bob graduated from the Bertha High School. He has one younger brother. Bob's first memory is that of neighbor Arvid Kenny being hit with lightning. News of a blast coming down from the sky got his attention. He wasn't much older when bank robbers "Two Gun" Henderson and Clarence Campbell ran through their yard after robbing the Hewitt Bank. Watching the store burn down about the same time likely impressed Bob the most.

Since the Aldriches lived on a farm there was always a job that needed doing. Bob didn't have to look for work. As far back as he can remember his interests ran to raising flowers.

Bob married Genevieve (Gen) Kassube 56 years ago. She has been a dedicated partner in Bob's quest for raising great flowers on their acre of blooms. She has spent many years as a teacher in the Bertha School system and still substitutes there. The Aldriches have six children.

The years Bob spent in the Army were not happy ones. He was stationed in North Carolina, with temperatures running higher than 100 degrees, doing manual labor. After he suffered two heat strokes a few days apart he was discharged to go home.

Starting in 1956, Bob served as post master in Hewitt until he retired. The Aldriches have traveled extensively in the states as well as Canada. He has several collections he is working on along with making strides in genealogy interests.

After pupils from the Hewitt school were integrated with Bertha's school system, and the beautiful one-of-a-kind old edifice in Hewitt just sat there, it was Bob who saw a second life for this proud old building. It makes a fantastic museum!

Bob has served the Hewitt Historical Society Museum as president, janitor, resource person, spark plug and curator. At this point it can partner with any other museum in Todd County without coming out second.

However, no matter what other interest came along, nothing edged out flowers with Bob. I couldn't convince him to make a choice as to kind or color. He loves all of them, each one exactly right for the spot it is in at this moment as it symbolized God's mercy.

Another thing, Bob has never charged one cent for his flowers. Many have been selected and arranged for countless funerals and weddings. They have cheered sick rooms and are an absolute at every service in the little Methodist Church where Bob has done everything but play the piano (Gen does that) and preach.

If Bob had been so inclined to choose a career he would likely have chosen horticulture. Had plans to own a business panned out it would have been a greenhouse, heavy on flowers.

All in all, this land Bob lives on, the same tilled by his father and grandfather before him, where he and Gen raised a fine family, has kicked out one fair crop after the other between the rocks.

Bob's flowers are not just "plants" to him. They are a ministry. Besides brightening dark corners, their enjoyment gives laden hearts a few minutes of repose.

No designer has come up with a pattern not bested by some flower. No artist has daubed on his palette the exact blue/purple shade of the humble wild iris that grows in pastures without accolade.

Joyce Kilmer wrote that only God can make a tree. He made a lot of other things, too.

Bob's special way of dealing with such splendor is to never pluck a spent blossom. It has preached its sermon; done what it was born to do.

It deserves to stay on the stem.