After months in which Hanna, boyfriend Henry Bauer, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins helped to revamp this local landmark, local residents can once again purchase their flowers from this local business. And it’s not only flowers anymore. Bergene has invited local artisans to put their wares for sale in the shop and there is everything from pottery from Cooperstown Pottery and Beiko Ceramics to jewelry by Karen Katz.
The weekend has seen a steady stream of people and the opening will run through 2 p.m.
In the midst of the 50-car drive-by celebrating Carol B. Waller’s retirement as Mohican Flowers’ proprietor, a customer stopped by looking for greens to decorate his home for Christmas.
Carol and her 42-year assistant, Claire Satriano, who was also honored at the event, ducked into the store and got him what he needed.
“They work until it’s done,” said Elaine Bresee, who spent three weeks organizing the parade with Carol’s husband Bill, and witnessed that small act of supreme customer service on Saturday, Dec. 19.
On the coldest day of the season so far, friends and admirers began lining up their cars at 2:30 p.m. on Railroad Avenue, just around the corner from 207 Main St., where the Bateman-Waller family has operated Mohican Flowers, founded in 1901, for 50 years.
Leading off was a Cooperstown Fire Department pumper, sirens and horn blaring, bearing Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Fire Chief Jim Tallman, with Deputy Chief Glenn Falk driving.
Santa and Mrs. Claus followed, then a Cooperstown EMT vehicle, lights flashing, carrying Squad Chief Eric Pierce with wife Alisia and daughter Abigail.
Many longtime friends followed, including White House Innkeepers Marge and Ed Landers, and Hank Phillips, retired Withey’s pharmacist and wife Dottie. Jo Ann Lamonica was up from Oneonta for the celebration.
Carol said husband Bill told her to sit by the window with her coat on. When Elaine showed up to hatch the surprise, she asked Carol, “What are you doing there?”
When the parade began, Bill set Carol up in a chair by the sidewalk, with Claire by her side and Satriano husband Bill and son Chris behind them. Bill, an avid photographer, worked the scene.
Many folks pulled over to present gifts. State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, himself retiring at year’s end, and wife Cindy presented a clock that marks the days of the week, not hours and minutes.
“That was quite an outpouring. She was in tears – and that infectious laugh!” the senator observed.
“Since,” said husband Bill, “a number of people have called to say, ‘If I’d known, I would have been there.’”
Carol and Bill were raised, met and married on Huntington, L.I., and moved to Cooperstown in 1970, when her dad, Charles Bateman, who had retired as president of Hi-Temp, which supplied wire to NASA, bought Mohican Flowers in 1970. He trained as an unpaid intern at a downstate florist six months, then moved to Cooperstown.
Carol worked for her dad. By the mid-‘80s, the medical-equipment company Bill was working for transferred the family to Boulder, Colo. Returning in 1990, Carol’s dad, by then also a veteran county representative, asked her at dinner, “What are you going to get involved in now? Why don’t you do something meaningful?”
Soon, she was elected to the Village Board, serving four years as trustee, four years as deputy mayor and, beginning in 2002, eight years as mayor. High points included obtaining and completing the village’s first sizeable federal grant: for the renovation of Linden Avenue and creation of the “Blue Lot.”
During this period, as her current successor as mayor, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, noted in a proclamation she presented Waller last Saturday, Carol got involved in the 4Cs – the Cooperstown Community Christmas Committee.
Along the way, the Wallers raised three children, all successful. Bill, now semi-retired in Washington State at 51, is an attorney by way of Colgate and Harvard Law. Scott, 47, teaches math at D.C.’s Gonzaga Prep, where he’s coached two soccer teams to national championships. Kirsten, 38, is up for a big promotion to senior director of the cancer center at a San Diego hospital. The Wallers have seven grandchildren.
The couple plan to close the shop Dec. 31, and retire as of New Year’s Day. There have been inquiries from prospective buyers, so this may not be the end for Mohican Flowers.
The Wallers plan to stay in the village, although, as COVID declines, they hope to borrow an RV from a friend and drive across the country to visit their children and grandchildren.
An era is ending.
Elaine Bresee “had gone for a drive-by for a lady in Oneonta. I saw how wonderful it was,” perfect for recognizing Carol and Claire’s dedication.
She and Carol were members of the Lake & Valley Garden Club, and Elaine also provided flowers at Christ Episcopal Church once a month, so she experienced Mohican Flowers at full throttle.
She recalled the whirl of activity just before one Valentine’s Day, when two funeral directors called with funerals scheduled for the same time. “Carol and Claire looked at each other, then went right back to work.”
“There’s never any time off,” Bresee said. “They both worked so hard, I wanted to show my appreciation for everyone at the shop.”
“I can’t imagine Cooperstown without a florist,” she said.
State Sen. Jim Seward and wife Cindy, top photo, halt a 50-car, drive-by surprise parade this afternoon to give a retirement present to Carol B. Waller, seated at center, the former mayor who is retiring at the end of the year as proprietor of Mohican Flowers on Main Street, Cooperstown. Also honored was Claire Satriano, who joined the organization 42 years ago, her first job out of college. Maitresse d’, with red scarf, is Elaine Bresee, decades-long friend and customer. At right are Claire’s husband Bob and son Chris. Second photo, left, are Ed and Marge Landers, longtime friends of Carol and husband Bill, with a congratulatory banner on the side of their van. The smaller posters are Holly Dollars, a former Christmastime downtown promotion, which depicted Carol during her tenure as mayor. Third photo is the lineup along Railroad Avenue, including, in Cooperstown EMT ambulance, Squad Chief Eric Pierce, wife Alisia and daughter Abigail. A Cooperstown fire truck, driven by Assistant Chief Glen Falk and carrying current Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Fire Chief Jim Tallman, led off the event. Mohican Flowers was founded in 1901, and purchased 50 years ago by Carol’s father, Charles Bateman, who also served on the county board for 25 years. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
CRUISE-IN CAR SHOW – 5:30 – 7 p.m. Enjoy ice cream, music, horse powered wagon rides, as well as Kyle Busch’s M&M’s #18 NASCAR Show Car, restored vintage cards, muscle cars, street rods from car enthusiasts. Pathfinder Village, 3 Chenango Rd., Edmeston. 607-965-8377 or visit pathfindervillage.org
COOPERSTOWN – The three fire hydrants closest to Mohican Flowers failed as firefighters battled a “ball of fire” that consumed the greenhouse last evening.
Each hydrant was a different situation:
• Main-Nelson: A fire truck drove over the fire hose once it was under pressure, causing the flange at the base to snap, disabling the hydrant, according to a written report Mayor Jeff Katz received overnight.
Railroad-Leatherstocking: The operating nut at the top of the hydrant next to Spurbeck’s Grocery, which opens the flow of water, snapped, according to the report Katz received. Examined this morning, it appeared to be rusted.
Bruce Hall lot: Katz said the report he received didn’t mention that hydrant. (Bruce Hall, in addition to a hardware store, is a lumber yard.)
COOPERSTOWN – A 100-year-old greenhouse behind Mohican Flowers was consumed last evening by what proprietor Carol B. Waller’s husband Bill described as “a ball of flame, an orange ball of flame.”
The Wallers – Carol is former Cooperstown mayor – had gone to bed when they heard over the scanner at about 10:30 p.m. that a house on Leatherstocking Street, behind the greenhouse, was on fire. Former fire chief Brian Clancy, who lives on Leatherstocking and made the original call, called in in a few moments later to correct the location: It was behind the flower shop.
The Wallers hurried to the scene to find the greenhouse fully engulfed.
However, firefighters with AirPacs went into the main building, which was attached to the greenhouse, closed the connecting door and opened the front upstairs windows to let the smoke out. That saved the building, and Carol said she expects to be open for business by Monday.
“The fire department did a marvelous job,” said Bill. “They saved the building.”
He said the fire started in a basement under the potting shed where the oil burner is located. The official cause of fire was still uncertain today. However, Bill said a state inspector had done a routine inspection of the burner just last week.
The Wallers’ Bayliner Classic boat, containing 50 gallons of gasoline, was parked about 10 feet from the greenhouse, and the tarp was melted onto the boat today. However, Bill said a firefighter stood by the boat, directing a spray of water against it, and little damage was done.
Some of the siding on Bieritz Insurance, close to Mohican Flowers on the west side, had melted, and associated Ben Novellano was on the roof this morning, trying to determine the extent of the damage.
In addition to Cooperstown’s firefighters, Fly Creek and Hartwick Seminary responded.