I am sure that many of you are old enough to remember the TV Show called the Lone Ranger.
It was always one of my favorites growing up in the pre-cable era. It was a time when you could always count on the good guy coming to the rescue and saving the world. Good always won out over evil in those days. Every week was a new episode where the Lone Ranger and his faithful assistant Tonto would make the world a better place. When I got old enough to read, I realized that the star of the show was not just The Lone Ranger. His real name was Clayton Moore. This is where my story begins.
Growing up in the Camellia World of Savannah, Georgia, we had another super hero named Clayton Moore. We always used to joke about his celebrity status. Clayton was another one of the camellia growers from Savannah in my daddy’s inner circle of friends, and he used to come by for regular visits when I was a kid. He came to see Daddy and talk camellias, and he always wanted to see what was in bloom. After the camellia visit, Clayton would always go see my mama as well to talk African Violets with her. He always had a wide interest in flowers. Clayton was a long standing member of the old Men’s Garden Club in Savannah. I used to go to the local camellia shows when I was growing up, and Clayton was always busy helping out with the show. Back in 1978, his mask was uncovered as his picture showed up in the local newspaper covering the annual camellia show.
There was a funny story about Clayton and my Daddy. Both grew up in Savannah not far from each other, and they were good friends during their adolescent and early adult years. As a matter of fact, they both shared the same hobby of raising pigeons. They would take trips together to places like Atlanta and release their pigeons to race back home to Savannah. After a number of years, both lost track of each other. Years later, both Clayton and Daddy began growing camellias separately. Both became camellia enthusiasts, and one day, a mutual camellia friend told Clayton that he should meet another friend of his that also loved and grew camellias. It turned out that Daddy and Clayton had a lot of catching up to do. They never lost touch with each other again.
Clayton was always a good friend to me during all the years after my Daddy died. He never lost interest in his camellias. During his later years, he had trouble getting around. When he would come out to visit, I would help him into the golf cart, and we would go look at the camellias. He passed away a few years ago. He may not have been the Real Lone Ranger to some folks, but he was always one of the Super Heroes to me when I was growing up with camellias. Hope you enjoyed this memory! gene phillips
Gene Phillips is one of the owners of Gene’s Nursery in Savannah, Ga. He is a 2nd generation grower and attributes his love of Camellias to his father, who inspired him to breath in the beauty that they bring to him but more importantly to others. In his ‘free’ time, you’ll find him wandering through old gardens, trying to identify flowers or taking countless number of photos to share with others! He also enjoys meeting people and comparing ‘garden’ stories.