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Everybody’s Port: July 18, 2013

Home is not a place you go away from; it is a place you come back to. When those words come to mind, I always hear them spoken by the same person, Ezio Pinza in the hit Broadway musical, Fanny (1954). If velvet could sing, it would sound like Pinza. His richly resonant bass voice was as smooth as a baby’s derriere.

For those of you who had not yet seen the light of day in the mid-50s, Pinza was a handsome Metropolitan Opera star who, after 22 years in opera, became a  Broadway star in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. In Fanny, Pinza is speaking to his son, who has just returned from five years at sea. His words are a lead-in to a song (Surprise!) entitled Welcome Home (What else?) that Pinza sang with smiling gusto, yet warmly and beseechingly parental. And the thought of it today is apropos because of where this column is going.

Do you know what the initials S. F. stand for in S. F. Falconer Florist? For a guy who is always delighted to discover that the son or daughter of someone who put roots down in Port Washington also has chosen to put his or her roots down here, it’s like finding a gallon of chocolate ice cream that has no calories. In this case, there’s reason to be doubly delighted.

Not only did Fred Falconer, Jr. (Frederick, but nobody calls him that) opt to stay in Port Washington and continue the family business, but that’s exactly what his father, the late Frederick Falconer did as well. That’s three generations of Falconers in the same business, at the same place, since 1924. Not many local businesses can say the same today. And the Falconers’ story is worth the read.

The patriarch of the clan, Simon Frederick Falconer left Auchenblae, Kincardinshire, Scotland — without his wife, Mary — and arrived in the USA in 1905. (Now, no need to get nervous.) Once S.F. had had his feet on the ground, so to speak, Mary joined him. Eventually, they settled in Port Washington and the sweet smell of success was in the air. The modest house on South Maryland, in which they first lived, later morphed into what is the now expanded S. F. Falconer Florist.

Fred Falconer, Sr. (never heard him called Frederick) was no slouch either; neither was his wife, Dorothea, who worked beside him. The senior Fred served as a commissioner of the Port Washington Water Pollution Control District for about 20 years and was a member of the Flower Hill Hose Company #1 for 40 years. The number of volunteer and business organizations that Fred Sr. gave his time and support to is too many to list here, but his 40-year membership in our Lions Club is typical of the man’s sense of involvement. Most impressive is the fact that Fred, Sr., not only grew the family business, but also helped grow the community in which he lived.

After service in the U.S. Army — mostly in Germany — Fred, Jr. took over the business in 1980 when his father officially retired (sadly, died three years later). Since then, Fred has done a masterful job of melding technological advances in contemporary communications with three generations of personal florist business know-how.

There is something almost wonderfully old-fashioned about Fred. He is quietly proud, generous, respectful, and straight-arrow. There is an absence of baloney about him. Like his father, Fred is a volunteer fireman and community minded — a definite asset to Port Washington. Businesses like his give stability to our town.

Let’s keep it that way. Shop Port first.