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Virginia Biggers: A true flower
Liberty lore
Members of the Liberty County Home Demonstration Club in 1951 took part in a “dress revue” in the Hinesville Methodist Church social hall. The event was staged by Virginia Biggers, the home demonstration agent. (L-r): Mrs. Lee Mears, Lucille B. Woods, Mrs. W. E. Phillips, Mrs. Herbert G. Norman, Mrs. J.H. Heath, Alda Higdon, Lettie Brown, Mrs. G.B. Eunice, Mrs. Lee Joyner, Mrs. Thomas Weir, and Mrs. Mana Gorton. Mears won first place for her self-made dress. - photo by Photo provided.
The Hinesville-Flemington Women’s Club was established in 1922 by Edna R. Fennell, the Liberty County home demonstration agent.
It was never a large organization but the accomplishments were great.
The club staged a pageant in Hinesville on George Washington’s 200th birthday and another one in Savannah on Georgia’s bicentennial year.
The members planted the first flowers and shrubbery on the Liberty County Courthouse grounds and sponsored the county’s first garden clubs.
Virginia Biggers was the agent for many years. One person who remembers Virginia very well is Alda Higdon.
Alda writes for the Tattnall Journal and lives in Reidsville now. Recently, she wrote a column about Virginia and her life-changing experience with her while she lived here and was a member of the Officers’ Wives’ Club. She agreed to share her thoughts with my readers. They follow below:
I remember that it was about this time of year when the camellias and pear trees were blooming, probably in 1962, that this episode happened in the basement of the Methodist Church in Hinesville. This life-transforming event, that pre-spring night in the basement boosted a confidence in myself I’d never ever had before.
The old houses in Hinesville were beautiful, with boxwood filled yards (that last shrubby stronghold of southern aristocracy, I’ve heard it called), and azaleas, camellias and daylilies blooming in season. And when the Garden Club opened its doors to members of the Officers’ Wives’ Club, I thought by mere association with these sweetly southern little blue-haired ladies, I’d not only become more mellow in voice and personality, but could hone my green thumb skills to perfection!
The problem was, my voice nor my personality never mellowed (Probably all those years consorting with crass military types), and I found as much emphasis was placed on arranging flowers as growing them.
I could definitely grow ‘em but not show ‘em and had complained on numerous occasions. I’ll never learn to arrange flowers - everything I ever do just looks like zinnias stuck in a mayonnaise jar on top of the refrigerator.
No matter what I did the flowers always looked the same. It was no wonder that when Miss Virginia, the home demonstration agent for Liberty County, announced a flower arranging class; I was the first to sign up.
She came in that night with buckets of camellias, yellow forsythia, baby’s breath spirea and branches of flowering quince and pear trees — all from her beautiful yard. Plus assorted containers, “frogs,” “oasis,” (new names to me in that context), shears and scissors.
“Let’s see what you can do,” she said, and so we started. For the most part, all of us, young wives and mothers, were about on the same level — all thumbs, albeit green ones. We were terribly inept in this business of arranging flowers, but Miss Virginia was a born teacher, with the patience of a proverbial saint. She was also something of a miracle worker.
She worked with each of us individually, and naturally I had picked out the vase most resembling a mayonnaise jar. When it came my turn, she said, “Well, that’s pretty but let’s just try this little flat black container and see what we can do.”
And so, she carried me through the whole lesson, but what she showed me suddenly made sense. Then she tore my beautiful arrangement apart, tossing the flowers in the big garbage can and saying, “Now, get more flowers and do it yourself” before she went on to the next person.
When the lessons were over, we had a mock flower show and guess whose three camellias and pear branch sprigs won the blue ribbon. I was hooked! She’d created a flower-arranging monster.
Not having enough flowers of my own to practice on, I poor-mouthed the post chaplain so he told me to come get the altar flowers every Monday morning — anything at that point to get me to shut up about it. And I’d wear those flowers out, literally, practicing arrangements.
Sometimes practice does make perfect and when I won my first blue ribbon at the next accredited flower show I felt I was finally a person in my own right. I was not Mary Lou’s daughter, nor Ebb’s wife, nor Mary’s mother — but Alda Higdon, standing on her own reputation as a flower arranger.  
The following year, I took the sweepstakes award for the most blue ribbons in the artistic division.
Alda had written about Miss Virginia in 1998 and received calls from many people who told what she had done for them.
“She arranged the flowers for my wedding. She taught me flower arranging also.”
So many testaments to her talent and the fact she had touched many people’s lives and gave of herself in everything she did. She was not only Methodist but Methodist to the marrow of her bones, and one of the most good-hearted people I’d ever known.
Miss Virginia Biggers spent the last few years of her life in the nursing home.
I hardly ever do arrangements anymore except for the bud vases down at the church or for the senior citizens luncheons.
Sometimes I do a perfect little Hogarth Curve, just to satisfy the artistic craving in my soul. And always, this time of the year, when the camellias and pear trees are blooming, I remember Miss Virginia Biggers, the lady who taught me and hundreds of others how to arrange flowers in something other than a mayonnaise jar.
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