Hibiscus for Your Enjoyment

by John C. Westervelt

When you are driving west of Sheridan down 51st street, just past the post office, you’ll see gorgeous, rose-colored hibiscus surrounded by neatly mowed and trimmed grass on the south side in the parkway. You may wonder who provides such pleasure. The good Samaritan is Wallace.

Wallace, a longtime Asburian, was fifty-seven when Gulf Oil’s downsizing placed him on retirement. Looking for some exercise, Wallace began mowing the two-block long strip from Joplin to Lakewood between the wall and the street. Since the strip to be mowed is a long way around from his cul-de-sac home backing up to 51st street, Wallace would place his lawnmower on the concrete-block fence, climb over, then retrieve the mower from the other side.

Several years ago, Wallace’s wife, Barbara, brought some seed from an old fashioned hibiscus from her mother’s place to add to her garden. Wallace and Barbara are Master Gardeners. Inside the wall, Barbara grows a dozen varieties of flowers; and Wallace a dozen different vegetables. Wallace took some seed from the inside hibiscus and planted it outside the wall. Over the years he spread the hibiscus out along the wall for your pleasure.

I can understand how a 57-year-old might lift a mower over the fence and push it up and down a two block stretch, but what I don’t fully comprehend is why Wallace, who’ll be seventy this year, continues to scale the wall and push a non-self-propelled mower for exercise.

The giving spirit of Wallace and Barbara continues on my behalf every Friday night. For the nine years since Nelda died, Barbara has fed me homegrown vegetables at a table decorated with homegrown flowers to begin my weekend. Why such good treatment for me? Well, you see I’m Wallace’s brother.

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