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still grinning

Dear Aroiders,

Since no one else has taken fingers to the keyboard to expound on the 
fantastic, wonderful, overwhelming, joyous, just plain overall grand 
experience of the VIII International Aroid Conference just completed in St. 
Louis, I want to tell all, it was magnificently run, presented and to those 
who attended, beyond words. So much fun to be among my friends of so many 
years and then to meet and great and make other new friends was unreal. I 
truly did not know there were so many other slightly crazy folks on this 
earth. Fully realizing, I am minimizing the 'crazy.'

>From the speakers, to the receptions, to the banquet, all ran almost like 
clockwork. I am sure a great deal of that was due to Tom's Assistant, with a 
capital, Beth. She is due credit that I am sure, I cannot even comprehend. I 
would hope he gave her a day off, but knowing Tom, he added one instead. Then 
the greenhouse with all of his plants and a few of mine (or should I say that 
in the past tense), all looked good due to the many and continuing efforts of 
our dedicated Aroid lover, Cheryl. One cannot leave Dewey, our beloved 
President of IAS, out of the tangle of folks so due credit with the 
conference. His wit and humor and straight to the point perspective jolted 
the splitters and focused those less so. It may not be unusual for St. Louis, 
but for me, the box lunches and the banquet food was delicious and presented 
delightfully; not that I went to the conference for food and the ever 
available coffee and water. I am sure there are so many that I am not aware 
of by name who deserve so many thanks for their efforts, but one I cannot 
leave out is Tom's wife, Pat, who deserves sainthood for just putting up with 
Tom normally say nothing about 16 to 20 strange speaking visitors sleeping, I 
am sure, from end to end of their beautiful home west of St. Louis. Her 
comment to me was that it was wonderful to have 16 intelligent and charming 
young people to talk to at breakfast. What does that say about the norm I 
wonder? Kidding. The heading to "still grinning" came to me this morning via 
Aroid L from Mary Jane Hatfield and I think it echoes the sentiments of so 
many who were there and some who are still pestering Tom for information. I 
know I am exhausted and I did not get there at the beginning so perhaps 
someone who was there for Sunday and Monday can add some kudos to those 
aspects of the affair. I know the party at Tom's on Sunday must have been 
awesome. Monday's programs I was very sad to have missed, but I know the rest 
of you enjoyed them. I did get to be a background part of the 'program from 
Hell' our colleague from Chiapas, Mexico, attempted to give, where the slides 
did nothing right and when corrected, persisted with their determination of 
not rightsideup, etc. I was pleased when several came to me afterward and 
told me to tell Miguel that they saw wonderful potential in his beautiful 
collections that were in photographs and the botanist said they could see his 
efforts and thought it had great potential. That always softens the let down 
when things go wrong. John Banta's program was his usual unbelievable. John, 
in an effort to pick the experts minds often played the naive and innocent, 
which to those who know him was absurd and to those who offered him 
information, delighted him. Dr. Dan Nicolson's wonderfully delightful ending 
presentation was so perfect to blend the world of the delight of the 
collector and the botanist, all in one. So many wonderful presentations in 
the middle, far too numerous to be brought up, but let me tell you, who were 
not there, you are going to be sorry until we meet again at Kew in 2001. We 
expect you to start saving your pennies, or perhaps dimes, so that we can all 
meet again in England. Peter Boyce and his colleagues at Kew, have a great 
deal to do to equal this conference. We all wish you well and ever so hope we 
can join you there. 

The International Aroid Society certainly has so many dedicated aroiders and 
we need to continue our support so that there will be that facilitator for 
publication of the research and expertise that we seek. Our own, Dewey Fisk 
and Tricia Frank worked tirelessly during the conference to make different 
aspects of the conference go smoothly. Tricia held sales of plant related 
materials together and then was even there some for the plant sales. I know 
she missed many programs attending to this aspect of the conference. We owe 
her a special thanks for her smile and help when we 'wanted' something and 
quickly so we could go hear the speakers. 

The many posters that were on display were unbelievable. Many people must 
have spent untold hours preparing these large one page displays. Thanks to 
them for their efforts and expertise and love of Aroids.   

One could not leave out the two new awards that were given with their 
beautifully done presentation done by Dewey. One went to Dr. Nicolson for all 
of his botanical efforts and the other went to Josef Bogner for his 
horticultural prowess. Certainly very deserving recipients. I think we all 
know that the committee that made the decision on recipients must have had so 
many to decide from, but these two gentlemen were their final decision; and 
wonderful choices they are!!!!!! 

I personally would like to thank our own Tom Croat for all of his efforts and 
ever so much work and his staff for all they did to make our time in St. 
Louis memorable and ever so delightful. Furthermore, I would like him to know 
how much we appreciate all of his efforts on the Aroids that make more 
information available to us. While from time to time, I disagree with him, he 
is just one of those people who is ever so special to me with his timidness 
to ask for a plant or a cutting or for anything when you really would like 
him to express his desire. We, who attended, have so much to thank him for 
because without Tom we would be in a heap of trouble when we want our 
questions answered, and now,  of course. Without Tom, there would have been 
no conference for us to attend in St. Louis. 

Tom, Beth, Cheryl, Pat, Dewey, and ever so many I am forgetting or unaware of 
all, you did and do each and every day for us, Thanks....with tear in eye, it 
had to come to an end, but with the anticipation of yet another in 2001 and 
with memories that I am sitting here 'still grinning.' 

Betsy Feuerstein

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