There is a garden club in Middletown called “Garden Club R.F.D.”—the club to which I belong. At the time of its formation (1941), everyone knew what the three initials at the end of our name meant. If a young person were asked today—it would be doubtful that they would have any idea of the words for which they stand or their meaning-- unless they were possibly a U. S. history buff. The words and meaning thereof has disappeared from use. However, as it is still used as part of our Club’s name, let me offer an explanation with a little history.
In the 1800’s in our country, isolation was the lot of most farm families. Telephones, radios, televisions and cell phones did not exist and a farmer’s main links to civilization were the U.S. mail and newspapers that arrived via the mail, at the nearest post office—and that post office was often not that near! Since there was no home delivery and the post office was not “right up the road a piece”, a farmer might have delayed picking up his mail and newspapers for days, weeks or even months when the long trip by horse and carriage could also be a trip that would provide for the procurement of supplies, food or equipment.
The first Postmaster General, to favor rural free delivery (R.F.D.) to their farmers’ homes, was John Wanamaker of Pennsylvania. Funds had been appropriated before he left office in 1893, but it was not until October of 1896, that it began to gain momentum when the first five riders went out on delivery routes in rural West Virginia. In addition, it was in 1898, when U. S. Post Office officials announced that any group of farmers could have free delivery merely by sending a petition, along with a description of their community and roads, to their congressional representatives. What followed was overwhelming! By 1905, the Post Office was serving 32,000 R.F.D. routes, and rural families, including those in Middletown/Holmdel area, were no longer isolated.
Today, Garden Club R.F.D. proudly retains its name and meets in an historic one-room schoolhouse in Middletown, a learning center in 1842. When the schoolhouse became the meeting place for our garden club, most of the members still had R.F.D. addresses and delivery, making it quite natural for R.F.D. to become part of their name. Mystery solved and explanation given!
The Garden Club R.F.D. had a holiday celebration on December 16 at Bonefish Grill where Micki White received the Perennial Bloom Award. This award honors long-time members for their years of dedicated support and service to the garden club of which they are a member. Micki is well deserving of the honor.
On January 20, 2015, normal meetings will resume with a program by Linda Williams, a National Garden Club Judge from the Hunterdon Garden Club. She will demonstrate the creation of jewelry, utilizing natural materials. Each year, this is often a featured portion of the Philadelphia Flower Show. If you are interested in learning more about this program and our club, please contact June Smith at (732) 671-9216. We will be meeting at The Little Red School House on the corner of Dwight and Middletown Lincroft Roads in Middletown.
Garden Club R.F.D. is a member of the Garden Club of New Jersey and the Central Atlantic Region of the National Garden Club.
Garden Club R.F.D.