|My father has mostly worked in Horticulture his whole life.
He was born in 1925 into a family of 6 brothers and one sister. His father and mother were Italian immigrants. She a dress maker and he a carpenter from a small town of Sant'Eusanio in the province of Abruzze, Italy. They settled in Union, New Jersey. My dads father became a builder and owned a few properties in the area until his untimely death from Lock-Jaw or blood poisoning due to stepping on a rusty nail at work. His unexpected death left behind 7 young children and my grandmother to fend on their own during the great depression. They gradually lost most of the property they owned, the houses that had once stood had gradually disappeared as looters took the plumbing and fixtures for scrap and wood for heat. Fortunately they also owned a general store which my grandmother ran and fed the family out of and it is also rumored to have been a place to purchase whiskey during prohibition which I'm sure greatly added to the success of the store.
As a youngster my dad picked stones on area farm fields for 2 Cents a Bushel (this is a story I'm sure he has told at least three times to everyone he has known).
As he grew older he picked vegetables, grew pansies, and started to develop a love of the soil. There are the great bean picking stories and the American Flag that was planted out of pansies for the 1939 Worlds Fair in a large field so when seen from the air would dazzle the fliers above. He worked for some of the original perennial growers of the time, names like Becker, Gallini, O'Myer and Bardy.
Sometime before our current location, he had a farm in Warren, New Jersey. The heavy clay made for a late spring, muddy conditions, plants heaved and what survived the deer ate. My dad is a stubborn man, he added fencing for the deer around the perennial beds, to combat the heavy clay soil he experimented with growing plants in tubes cut from pipe placed on the soil (plastic pots hadn't become available yet). This resembled the system that Etera invented to grow perennials in the mid 1980's.
Throughout his life my dad has been innovator, mainly due to trying to overcome limitations of facility or environment. In the mid 60's he packed it up, moved from Warren and bought a farm in Jackson, New Jersey. The soil was a nice sandy loam, it was just what he wanted. Over time the farm also grew vegetables (there was very little demand for perennials years ago), and annuals.
Unfortunately despite my dads tenacity, hard work, and monstrous biceps he was not immune to the terrible disease that took his mother in her early fifties. My father has been battling Alzheimer's disease over the past few years and is starting to show the signs of its wrath. His sister also diagnosed with Alzheimer's is at the twilight of her horrific battle and reminds us all the fragility of life.
My dad is still active at the farm, he loves planting plugs. If you are fortunate enough to find him, SMILE and say "Hi", if you are lucky you might get to to hear bean or stone story.