GAIL WHITE Man is beautifying the city, one flower at a time
I read recently, "Someone once said there is really very little difference between people -- but that little difference makes a great deal of difference."
Randy Ware is living proof of the great deal a little difference can make.
Driving down South Avenue, heading toward downtown, sits Ware's Automotive.
The building looks like a typical auto repair shop; a cement block, flat-roof structure with auto parts strewn to the side.
Yet, in the midst of this working environment, Randy has created an oasis of beauty.
Seed of an idea: Several years ago, he began planting flowers in the front of his shop.
"It started here," Randy explained, pointing to a 6-inch-wide, 4-foot-long spot of land between the concrete wall of the building and the blacktopped parking lot.
"I planted impatiens the first year. Then I found out they don't do well in full sun."
Today, the small area is filled with an assortment of colorful flowers.
Randy was not done.
After years of renting, he purchased the South Avenue property in December. "The city told me I had to give them 10 feet of landscaping -- some sort of ordinance."
I chuckle, looking at the boarded up buildings across the street, decorated in plywood and iron bars.
"Nobody really follows it," Randy said. "Most people just throw some mulch down."
Randy decided to a little more than that.
Lining the length of his business, except for the parking area, nearly 60 feet long, sits a beautiful flower garden. The width varies from 5 feet wide to 12 feet.
"This is an English garden," Randy explained, pointing his grease and oil-stained fingers at his creation. "That means something is blooming all year-round."
Not alone: He concedes he had some help in creating this oasis.
Paula Tyler, a customer whose car Randy fixed, knew a bit about flower gardens and directed the purchasing and placement of many of the plants.
"I don't know a lot of the names," he said. His green thumb prevails regardless.
The array of colors is breathtaking. Every inch is perfectly mulched and weeded.
"I come out pretty much every morning at 7 a.m. to weed and water it," Randy said.
Soon, Randy hopes to add a bench to his garden.
"I just haven't found the right one," he said. "I want it to be sturdy, but nice looking."
Taking it home: Randy practices his philosophy of doing "a little more" at home as well.
He lives off Market Street on the South Side, at the house with "the greenest grass on the block."
"What are those flowers called, Glad ... something?" he asked.
"Gladiola?" I responded.
"Yeah, that's it," he said excitedly. "I have one at home as tall as me."
By now, I have realized this is about more than flowers to this man.
There is an ulterior motive behind his petunias and glads.
"I brought my son out here Sunday," Randy said, smiling. "We got all the seeds out of the marigolds. I told him, 'We're going to save these seeds and next year Daddy won't have to buy them.'"
He explained to his son that instead of buying 100 seeds for a dollar, they have will have thousands to plant at no cost.
"I want to teach him to make the most of what he's got," Randy continued, with conviction in his voice.
Yet, his lesson goes further than that.
"I'll be able to plant flowers everywhere," Randy said, referring to the wide variety of flowers in his garden. "I want to help beautify Youngstown."
"People are always saying bad things about Youngstown," he said sadly. "This is home for me. I'd like to donate my time and effort to help beautify Youngstown."
Randy's "little bit" is doing just that -- one child at a time, one block at a time.