By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
The Daisy flower shop in Copperas Cove is turning 30 years old, and the Rivers family's ownership of it is becoming a dynasty with four generations now in the saddle, even if the youngest, toddler Alayna Robinson, is still an undergraduate in flower design.
"She makes designs," said great-grandmother and store founder Penney Rivers. "She'll get some flowers placed and then put a couple of stalks in the middle. But that's learning."
Rivers said that when she retires, she'll turn over ownership of the store to her daughter Rebecca Stirnkorb, who is now the manager. Sarah Robinson, who also works in the business, is Stirnkorb's daughter and Alayna's mother.
The Daisy started in a Cove shopping center and moved after five years when rents went up. Rivers picked the current spot on Hawk Trail, just north of the railroad tracks, on a lot formerly occupied only by an engine repair shop.
"I designed the building myself," she said. "My friends said I was crazy to pick the location, but a flower shop's customers are loyal. It's not like a grocery store's clientele. You make particular designs for them, and they become your friends.
"Besides, by now, most of our orders come by phone or the Internet, and for several years, we've been in the top 1,000 or 500 in the nation with the Teleflora agency.
"You have to pay attention to every little observance and holiday like St. Patrick's Day," she said. Pointing to a small tableau honoring Halloween, she said the floral calendar includes that, too, although The Daisy doesn't play it up.
"Mother's Day might as well be called Mother's Week," she said. "But on Valentine's Day, everything has to be done on that day."
Teleflora honors each annual achievement in the top 1,000 range with a plaque. Sarah brought out a directory of member florists resembling a telephone book about 4 inches thick.
The building is a story and a half, with stairways on either side leading to the second floor.
"I used to rent the second floor for weddings," Rivers said, "but I would only charge $20 with the understanding the wedding and reception would take a couple of hours, and they usually stretched into four or five hours.
"This space is ideal for small weddings that don't serve alcohol. I'd like to do it again, but with some agreement that's fair to the store."
The design of the inside of the building gives the impression of a well-maintained structure much older than 25 years. The impression is heightened by a small organ that used to belong to a church in a small German community. The instrument arrived in Cove by covered wagon in 1880.
"Edna Teinert, a German native, used to come in and play it until she died a few years ago in her 80s," Rivers said.
"My husband, Jerry, and I came here in 1969 when he was in the Army," she said. "I felt stranded. It looked like there was nothing in any of the towns. Cove had one traffic light. But I love the place now. It's home. When I die, I want my casket to be covered with a Lone Star flag."
Jerry keeps the store's books.
"I'll never forget the day he leaned back and said we didn't have to take any more money out of savings to support it. It took about three years, but we finally got there," Rivers said.
"When we started, the banker had urged us to take a $20,000 loan instead of $10,000, but I said we weren't going into debt that far. And we didn't need to."
Times are a little rough right now because people are afraid to spend money until they see better news about the economy.
"But there have been good times and hard times before," Rivers said. "We always hold to a policy of good service, good products and good prices, and we've made it through."
Rivers is writing a book called "A Thumb in God's Eye" about an alleged quadruple lynching and a shooting in 1902 in her home county in deep East Texas. The work is in its second rewrite. She also addresses a fatal beating in a jail in the mid-1980s.
"I went back and asked about the Ku Klux Klan and was told it's very much alive," she said. "There are men who are farmers, bankers, insurance agents, good men all the time, but when they put on that white robe, that's the thumb in God's eye. Then they're capable of all sorts of things.
"I understand this because I spent so many years traveling the world," she said. "But all that traveling made me even more proud of my roots. I'm Texan through and through."
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.