The year was 1957. President Eisenhower was in the White House and the Cold War was in full swing. The average American was earning $4500 per year and gas cost twenty four cents per gallon; and a Swanson TV dinner cost seventy five cents. In the evenings, families gathered around the television’s small screen to watch Gunsmoke in fuzzy black-and-white. Elvis Presley was singing a song about a Teddy Bear. And it was in that year that Fitzgerald’s Florist became a West Haven business.
Julia “Judy” Fitzgerald had grown up on Anderson Avenue near Beach Street. In 1948, she and her husband purchased a home at 281 Campbell Ave., next to the old American Buckle Company factory, and across the street from Heller’s Grocery Store. Judy was quite an avid gardener; almost immediately, she planted flowerbeds in their back yard. The flowers were the talk of the neighborhood, and neighbors began to stop by regularly, to compliment Judy on her talents and her creations.
By 1957, her hobby had grown into a business, and Judy built a greenhouse, which was followed by a potting shed. The business developed in an unusual spot to say the least—it was located behind the family home, and thus was almost invisible to those driving by. A sign, “Fitzgerald’s Greenhouse” was all that gave it away.
The 1950s and early 1960s were much more formal times, and West Haveners stopped by to purchase corsages for holidays and flowers for their Sunday dinner tables. Or sometimes, they would just stop by to talk—those times were much less hectic than in our present world. Easter and Thanksgiving bouquets were much more commonplace than they are today.
Fitzgerald’s grew into a modest, steady business, and Judy began to enroll in what would become a broad variety of correspondence courses on horticulture, floriculture, and floral design; she took her business very seriously indeed! In time, she passed her love of flowers on to her daughters, Rosemary and Maggi, who are both, still very active with their mother in the business.
Fitzgerald’s has weathered the many economic cycles which have taken place in the last 50 years, while some other West Haven florist shops have not been so fortunate: West Haven Flower Shop, Morelli’s, Sidera’s and Wayside have all departed from the scene over the years.
When asked what she likes best about the business, daughter Rosemary Fitzgerald says, “It’s great to work with family for your whole life, doing something you love, carrying on a tradition, and making a living at it.” Here’s to another 50 years of success for Fitzgerald’s Florist.