Bob takes his creativity, sense of humor home

PAT FRIDGEN
Bob Chaney has always loved garden ponds, and built one in his backyard on Williamson Road. He planted his wife Carolyn's favorite poppies, as well as many other annuals and perennials, to accompany the waterfall which aerates the home of 200 goldfish.

Bob Chaney is well-known in the Greencastle area for his sense of humor, sometimes credibly called outrageous. For the past 37 years, he offered a smile and usually drew laughs from his customers while meeting their floral needs.

Chaney recently retired and sold his business, 'Bob's Florist and Gift Shop', to Andy and Tyann Shanholtz, and Alan and Kathy Shanholtz. He left behind valued employee Angie Besecker. (spelling of allXXX)

"I couldn't have asked for anybody better," he said of Besecker, whom he hired several years ago to help at the shop.

His love of his work and his relationships with his customers made stepping down a tough decision, but health issues contributed to Chaney's fate that he take life a little easier.

"I have enjoyed it all," he said. "I met a lot of really nice people."

He found great satisfaction in creating fresh and silk arrangements that were just right for the customers. "People really enjoyed what I did," Chaney reminisced. "When they came to ask me to do something, that was really a trip for me. I got a real charge out of it all. The biggest joy is the excitement when someone likes what you've done. People take it home and will take care of it."

His own living room has several silk arrangements he made for his wife Carolyn, as final gifts from the supplies he kept in store inventory.

Chaney has turned his attention to maintaining and improving the fish pond in his backyard, surrounded with unusual and common plants that will provide beauty the entire growing season. He and Carolyn plan to do a little traveling, and he wants to offer his time to transport senior citizens to medical appointments at no charge. He is also available to help out at the store if needed.

The path

Chaney, 64, fell into the floral business as a career because his hobby was successful. In the early 1970s he began selling merchandise at craft shows, one of which was Saturdays at the auto auction. While the men went off to inspect the vehicles, the women wandered over to the barn to see what vendors at the $10 rental tables had to offer. Chaney sold out of his silk arrangements almost every week.

While working fulltime at Grove Manufacturing, he then decided to expand operations a bit, and purchased an 8 x 8 greenhouse for the backyard. He raised plants and tomatoes.

"Someone aksed me to do a fresh arrangement," he said. "I didn't have any fresh flowers, but I did silk. That started it all. It seems forever ago."

He began selling from his home. One couple from Timonium, Md. came twice and filled their car with his designs. That encouraged him in that it might pay to branch out even more. He added a room to the back of the house and expanded his merchandise. He continued attending craft shows and started supplying flowers for weddings.

"It blossomed," Chaney said, no pun intended.

He was laid off from Grove in 1991 and naturally went into his own business fulltime.

His first store was in a strip mall near Exit 3, then he moved to South Carlisle Street. To gain more exposure he relocated to East Baltimore Street, and his last stop was 42 N. Washington St.

The fun

Chaney not only sold flowers and gifts, but hired out to deliver singing telegrams. He dressed up as an old lady, the Grim Reaper, a teddy bear or Teddy Mae. For the latter he used his best Mae West impersonation to embarrass men, who were apt to bolt for the door unless Chaney had alerted wait staff ahead of time to block the escape route with serving tables.

His customers also provided some amusements. "I've had some funny ones through the years," he said.

One woman exposed herself. Another walked in barefoot, hair in curlers, with no teeth, and got fresh with him. Some kids released an opposum in the store. He found out who they were but decided not to press charges, letting his Christian faith of forgiveness take precedence.

Chaney got his sense of fun from his parents. "They were entertainers so I got it naturally. I'm not happy unless I'm clowning around."

He thought about his new circumstances at retirement. "I enjoy life. I love my wife very much. And I enjoyed serving the people."