In my town, we have a wonderful civic club – the Starkville Woman’s Club. It was founded in 1923 and many of our members are the daughters of the founding mothers.
Occasionally, they let in foreigners like Amy Crawford, our president who is pictured above, and oddwads like me (I have a camera and can get their picture in the paper so I guess that’s how I got in).
Today’s program was “getting the home ready for the holidays.”
I’m not sure we really qualify as a civic club since we have no projects, raise no funds and have no responsibilities that I can determine – except to show up each month, answer roll call, enjoy a fabulous program and eat some good food.
We do pool our meager dues and donate to worthy local causes. Every dollar stays in our community.
Listen, this is my kind of club. You are assigned to a team of four or five and once a year you do the refreshments – today it was chess pies from the University Bakery and some cheese straws from a box. See? We are dedicated to never having to do any work whatsoever and we get to see old friends and glean valuable tips about things that interest us.
We meet at a local bank which sets up our chairs, provides all the china and silver and cleans up after us. Perfect.
Today, we had the best program I can remember. Keith Winchester – remember that name. I predict you will be seeing him on Martha Stewart or some other decorating show in the near future. Not only is he cute and entertaining, but he gave us wonderful ideas about decorating for the holidays.
He began his program (see above) with a cheap garland – you know the ones we bought at Wal-Mart for $9.99. B-o-r-i-n-g. He noted how pitiful it was and proceeded to frump it into a work of art, using a combination of fresh and fake fruits and flowers.
“Anybody can do this,” he declared. “If I can do it in five minutes, you can do it in ten.” He did it in three.
I loved the big fat candles sitting on ordinary candle sticks. “It doesn’t matter it they don’t fit, we’re going for the Aha moment here,” he said.
Keith, like me, is a big fan of Hobby Lobby. He noted that all their holiday decorations are 60 percent off for the next week. Our club is considering chartering a bus on Friday to clean them out.
Keith opened his own florist business in Virginia Beach when he was only a senior in high school. He drove to Starkville to interview with Ralph Null, who some of you remember as the Godfather of Florism (is that a word?). Ralph took a look at some of Keith’s work and said, “You don’t need Mississippi State. Go back and do your thing.”
So how did he get back to Mississippi? A woman of course. He came down to participate in a floral seminar and spotted a woman that mesmerized him. He ended up marrying her and moved to Macon, Mississippi, where he has operated Keith Winchester Interiors for 34 years.
But get this. Keith has been commissioned by Disney World to do the wedding of Cinderella. Yes, the woman who portrayed Cinderella for many years is getting married and Disney is doing her wedding on site in January. They interviewed numerous florists and decorators and Keith got the job. No telling what his budget is.
He has also been commissioned to do the new Phoenician Hotel in China – they don’t measure it in square footage, they measure it in acres! That gig will take him away from Mississippi for a year.
Keith is the most self effacing, loveable guy I’ve met in a long time. And he didn’t charge us a cent for a two hour program that entertained and inspired. Since I’m program chairman for the club, someone asked me how I was able to get him – we don’t pay for our programs.
I guess I was just stupid. I heard he was talented and wanted him for our holiday program. Just goes to show that if you ask for what you want, sometimes you get it.