Nfld. & Labrador

Flower Man brought romance to downtown bars

Joseph Kruger spent years in the pubs, clubs and bars of downtown St. John's, peddling carnations to patrons.

Polish-Newfoundlander Joseph Kruger, a familiar face to many in St. John's, dead at 59

Joseph Kruger, aka the Flower Man, was a familiar face in the bars, pubs and clubs of downtown St. John's. (CBC)

Joseph Kruger spent years in the pubs, clubs and bars of downtown St. John's, peddling carnations to patrons with his staple phrase: "Flower for the lady?"

Kruger — a Polish-Newfoundlander known widely in the city as the Flower Man — passed away this week.

 
A young Joseph Kruger is pictured in this undated photo. (CBC)

Kruger, 59,  first came to Newfoundland decades ago as a fisherman on a foreign trawler. In the 1970s, he would buy goods — such as nylons and jeans — from the old Arcade store on Water Street and bring them back to Poland to sell.

But when times got tough there, he jumped ship in St. John's and began bringing something new to the downtown bar scene — manners.

"He tried to get the boys to step up and be gentlemen and buy a flower for the lady," said Kelly Warren.

Musician Colleen Power says she always loved the flowers Kruger gave her. So one night, while performing at a bar, she decided to give him something back — a song.

"As he was coming in, I started an impromptu ... sort of improv 'flower for the lady' song. He (had) just a smile from ear to ear."

Power now vows to finish that song.

It was flowers that brought Kruger into people's lives, but his own funeral wish came as a surprise to many: "Flowers gratefully declined." 

Kruger leaves a son, Stephen, and many friends.

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