The Rock That Made The Ripples
Charles B. Thomas
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All images provided by and © 2004
Charles B. Thomas
College and Army Days
The U. S. Army drafted me for a two-year term of duty one year
after my June 1957 graduation from the University of Maryland.
Following infantry basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, I
attended Advanced Artillery FDC (Fire Direction Center) School
at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Using longitude and latitude on maps
like graph paper, we learned how to measure the distance and
direction between our guns and the forward observer's radioed-in
target. Next, we would calculate the settings for the guns and
what strength propellant powder to use, and take into account
weather conditions, so that the artillery shells would land at
the spotted location miles away.
Now trained, the Army flew me to Korea for 13 months, arriving
on Thanksgiving Day. Who would have suspected then that this
draftee private would earn sergeant stripes in less than a year,
and then return to Fort Benning to train recruits? It happened.
Being stationed in Korea gave me the opportunity to explore goldfish,
waterlilies, lotuses, and other ornamental aquatics in the Orient,
including Japan and Hong Kong. Throughout my life, wherever and
whenever I travel, I search for whatever relates to water gardening.
my father's example, I gave waterlily blossoms, hardy and tropical,
day blooming and night blooming, including Victoria blossoms,
to my summer and autumn dates in high school, college, and thereafter.
Gentle waterlily-lover reader, you do understand what a splendid
impression these flowers made on those dates, don't you? They
always favorably impressed the parents, too.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC, displayed tropical
waterlilies and Victorias at their gardens and in government
pools in and around the District. To ensure having enough of
these tropical beauties, they produced many more than they needed.
Although producing surplus tropical plants, they continuously
had too few hardy waterlilies. Meanwhile, at Three Springs, Dad
had a surplus of exactly what Kenilworth needed. He also lacked
facilities for producing tropical plants. So they exchanged surpluses.
This circumstance gave me valuable experience growing tropical
plants, Victorias included, in the production and display
ponds at Lilypons.
Having completed the two years of required service in the Army
in June of 1960, I began to see time as more my own. No school,
and no military service. No Army Reserve unit existed in my area
where my artillery occupation would fit. This circumstance freed
me from two years of otherwise-required weekly meetings and summer
However, a Virginia National Guard battalion received a call
to active duty in October 1961 during the Berlin Wall crisis
coupled with an escalation of hostilities in Viet Nam. That battalion
urgently needed the same artillery FDC occupation that kept me
from attending those weekly meetings and summer camps.
Between receiving the recall notice in mid-September and reporting
to Fort Campbell, KY, home of the 101st Airborne Division, in
late October, Mother and I called on dancing school and high
school friend Sally Smith to offer sympathy upon the death of
her father. Before flying off to duty, Sally's mother agreed
that I could have her daughter's hand in marriage. We were duly
married December 26, 1961.
The National Guard unit returned to Richmond upon termination
of active duty in August 1962. Margaret Mary (honored by N.
was born the following November. Virginia arrived in May of 1964,
Victoria in May of 1966, and Elizabeth in July of 1978.
Graduation Day 1985
Left to right: Victoria, Virginia, Howard Crum,
Mary Frances Crum (Howard's mother), Elizabeth and Sally
Hollins College, Virginia
Margaret would marry Timothy
Koogle, owner of a grounds maintenance business, and become
Lilypons Water Gardens president. Virginia would
marry Howard "Chip" Crum, a UPS sales executive,
and be a partner in millefleurscottage.com.
Victoria would marry Tim's older
brother Richard who would become
LWG vice president. She would be
a Mary Kay sales rep with four sons and a daughter. Elizabeth
would marry Dan Diaz, who also would operate a grounds maintenance business,
taking care of the web site for
LWG. All four sons-in-law worked summer jobs at LWG while in
Meanwhile, it became obvious that I would head the family
business at some future date.
Copyright 2004 Charles B. Thomas
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