an orchid great you probably never heard of...

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Jan 22, 2008
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elmer, nj
The greenhouses where I work used to be a fairly famous site for orchid blooms grown for corsages. It was the original Baker Greenhouses in Utica NY, and in the 50's Mr. Baker hired a Mr. Joseph Filipkowski from New Jersey. Joe worked as the Head Orchid Grower, producing I believe Cattleya mossiae, Phal and Cymbidium hybrid (maybe all species) blooms to be sold mainly in the New York City and surrounding areas (including upstate ny) at certain times of the year to be used in traditional orchid corsages. It was a very intensive, hands-on job controlling the environment so that the orchid blooms were in prime flower for the appropriate holiday. Back then there were no computers controlling the vents and heating, just lots of people who worked their station and pretty much nothing else. Bakers was known for it's high-quality orchid blooms, and Joe was responsible for that quality.

I worked with Joe from 1998 to about 2005 when he was sort of pushed into retirement. He lived right next door to the greenhouse ranges, and used to climb the fence to go to work! One day they presented him with a ladder to go over the fence and eventually they just cut the fence down so that he could walk through. Joe would tell me all about his orchid growing years (they also produced long-stem rose blossoms) and how they used to go about doing everything; whenever I would ask him about being a speaker at our orchid club he would always say that he really didn't have anything he could present (which was very funny because he could talk for hours and hours) so I never had that much real information that I could write down, but it was a colorful history just the same. I did have one picture he found that showed him as a much younger man in the middle of a greenhouse filled with cattleya mossiae blooms, but I have no idea where that picture is, now.

Joe passed away peacefully with his family present last weekend and the services were yesterday (thursday), unfortunately the same day I was having surgery; Joe was 81 years of age. The days of orchids being grown for corsages in the U.S. are long gone, and not many people know about how they used to be grown, packaged and shipped around the country, but at least you all can know that there was one person who used to do this, and do it very well! I have a little more information about Joe and where donations could be made to a local hospice if anyone is interested.

...and no, i'm sorry, there weren't any paphs or phrags used for corsages back then!
As we all know, England was the start of orchid collecting. During WW II, most of the collections were shipped to the northeast US to protect them from the Blitz. Joe must have been one of the folks that kept those plants from being lost.
I agree with Tom. You're lucky to have known him. Such people are motivating and fun to be with. Thanks for letting us know about him. Maybe some new hybrid cattleya should be named after him. :)
Wow, what a loss to the orchid growing community! You are very lucky to have known him and hopefully enjoyed his stories about what it used to be like in the cut flower industry.

Reminds me of how important it is to record the stories of those who lived through interesting eras. It's a shame he didn't think he had much to say. From where I am, as a grower and as history buff, I can say his stories would have been priceless.
I'm sorry to hear he has passed. He sounds like he was a super great guy! Another twenty years would have been nice :wink: but we each get what we get and that's that. I'm glad you took the time to publicly remember him here. His life really meant something, and it's obvious that he touched your heart.
had a hernia repair... basically okay though we'll see when the local pain killer drip runs out

yeah, joe loved to talk! he would get in trouble for standing around and basically gossiping, so he would come up to you and be facing you and still be looking sideways down the tunnel to make sure nobody was sneaking up to yell at him lol. his family meant alot to him and each other. i'll try to pass along your well-wishes and thoughts to his family, and i'm sure that they will appreciate them
Joe sounds like a great guy. You are lucky to have known him.

Good luck in your recuperation from surgery. Hopefully, with little or no pain.
Thanks Charles for having given this info about Joe!!!!

( I am now in the 6th week after my (3rd!) hernia surgery, and fortunately had no pain!) Jean
ouch, Jean! what's up with that?! :) glad there wasn't any pain for you... one small one from coughing a few years back bronchitis/small pneumonia spot is enough for me. I had to travel to my Uncles' house the night before with my car; we drove to the hospital leaving at 4:30am to get there by 6. we were early and the surgery wasn't until 9:15am! nurses couldn't understand why the surgeon would schedule people to arrive so early. we got there before the security guard showed up! (they are mostly outpatient at that hospital and this was ambulatory wing so people aren't there at night) I survived the long drive back and have been relaxing and luckily i'll 2+ weeks off vacation time and holiday weekend. most amazing was when I asked the surgeon about scheduling as soon as possible because we'd likely have another seasonal layoff after the beginning of october, the surgery was scheduled only a week later(!) I never would have imagined that it would happen that fast. guess with our new american health care things will get backed up if it isn't 'life threatening' or urgent... like I hear in canada (unless you travel to a different province than your home one ;) (inside info from my canadian step-father)

hope you have no problems jean and no more tears on old repair work
I recently underwent one of those repairs myself. A few days of pain, about two weeks of discomfort, and then it was like someone flipped a switch to turn it all off!
I recently underwent one of those repairs myself. A few days of pain, about two weeks of discomfort, and then it was like someone flipped a switch to turn it all off!

sorry to hear you had to have it done as well, but the rest is music to my ears (the turning it all off) hasn't been that bad just the long car ride after eating that I hope will be blotted from memory pretty quickly. i'm waiting for the pain medicine bulb to empty since i'll be able to take it off and take a shower
... one small one from coughing a few years back bronchitis/small pneumonia spot is enough for me..

hope you have no problems jean and no more tears on old repair work

Coughing: I remember that from the previous interventions!

For the rest: just afraid of seeing popping the 'thing' up/out again :drool: ! I heard different statements on how long you have to refrain from serious physical efforts: 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months!? I will have to move my large plants (sobralia, coelogynes and co) back into my gh some day before winter :) ! Jean
my doctor said that for two weeks I couldn't work and should only lift 10lbs (a gallon of milk or water or 4 liters of liquid), then for two or three weeks light duty at work and then after that with caution probably anything else within reason, probably doing stretching and exercising in between to keep yourself in shape. I probably wouldn't do anything extreme for a while or look for an easier way to do something or ask someone to lend a hand. there's always an easier way to do some things, and with ingenuity you can often avoid lifting something the hardest way (of course hanging a huge stanhopea on a big hook would require lifting the hardest way of course :) )

ps i've been staying at relative's for a few days, and the coughing/laughing thing can be a problem! we get into conversations and my cousin's family visits and someone is telling a story you can't but help laughing at, or they get after each other (lightly) about something and it gets painful from trying not to laugh!