The first time I met today’s Birthday Celebrant Ed Hotaling, was indeed memorable. It was the summer before I began my first semester of college and I was desperate to get a full-time job that could help me pay tuition. Hotaling Florist needed a new delivery person and I had someone who knew Ed well, recommend me. I got a phone call telling me to come in for an interview.
I showed up at their Division Street location bright and early the next morning and met Ed and his brother Bill. They asked me a bunch of questions about my background and then Ed said, “Come on kid. I’ll take you over to the greenhouse and introduce you to my brother Jack.” Jack was the third and perhaps most important of the Hotaling brothers because he ran the family greenhouse, which was located off of Daniel Street on Amsterdam’s Southside.
As we walked out the rear exit, Ed threw me the keys to the then-familiar blue and white delivery van and told me he wanted to see how well I could drive. I entered the driver’s side, put my foot on the gas and turned the key in the ignition.
As most of you know, the most recent Hotaling Florist location was right alongside the main branch of the Amsterdam Savings (now First Niagara) Bank. At the time this incident took place, the only thing separating the Hotaling back parking lot from the Bank’s lot was a rickety chicken wire fence.
As soon as I turned the key that van started bouncing and lurching forward like a tightly cinched rodeo bull, stopping no more than an inch from that fence. I looked at Ed and he looked at me and he said “So you’ve never driven a standard before?” I lied in response, telling him I had but it had been a long time ago.
Instead of firing me on the spot…