Pictured: Trina Benavides displays some of the homecoming mums that have been a tradition at Cantu's Flower Shop. Owner Laura Cantu is the third generation flower shop owner.

Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

She is a third generation flower shop owner

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Laura Cantu, 48, has been arranging flowers and making homecoming mums since she can remember.

She is a third generation flower shop owner.

"When I was small, I used to go everywhere with my father and my grandmother," she recalled. "I would go to the fields that were full of marigolds. I even have a picture when I was about two years old with my grandmother arranging flowers and I was helping her."

The seed was planted and Cantu has followed in her grandmother's, Chepita Cantu, and her mother's, Irene Cantu, footsteps.

For more than four decades, Cantu has served the Alice area with Cantu's Flower Shop, which was located on Alto Street near the Veteran's Plaza in 1966.

Laura re-located the store in 2000 to a Mesquite Street location, which was formerly another flower shop. She took the old Cantu flower shop sign and recently erected it on a post over her shop.

"My grandmother and my mother were the ones that taught me how to arrange flowers," she said.

With homecoming festivities underway, the shop is filled with homecoming mums adorned with burnt orange and white ribbons, trinkets and teddy bears.

"I'm her friend and she showed me how to make them," Trina Benavides said as she was assembling a homecoming mum. "I remember last year when we sold the last mum at 7:30 that evening, just before the football game."

She said late nights of working until one or two in the morning are the norm around homecoming days.

Benavides said many traditions of homecoming have come to an end, but some like the homecoming mum are still going.

"My son is 25 and he started buying his mums from (Laura) when he was 13 years old," Benavides said. "Wherever she was, I would find her."

Benavides said that other changes like going from real mums to artificial mums and the Alice's school color of regular orange to burnt orange have replaced some of the traditions.

"I remember when they used to have the bonfires," Benavides said as she put the finishing touches of gold glittering wire on a mum.

"I wonder why they don't have them anmore?"

She said making mums also takes some endurance.

"It takes time, yesterday I made only three," Benavides said. "You do have to have patience."

Laura said she hopes Cantu's Flower Shop will withstand another generation.

"When I pass on, it's in my will for my daughter," she said. "I want it to stay Cantu's Flower Shop."