Sunday, June 11, 2017

REMINISCING: Go Climb a Tree

On the Monday of Memorial Day, we took the kids for a ride to the cemeteries in Medina and Lyndonville where we have family members buried. You probably read about that adventure already. If you haven’t, or you would like to revisit, you can read about that day HERE. In the meantime, this is my fiftieth Reminiscing article. Originally I had something planned for this occasion, but the trip to Lyndonville changed my focus.

 My grandparents lived in Lyndonville. My dad’s parents lived in the village. The house they lived in was originally purchased by my grandmother’s parents in 1927 or 1928. It stayed in the family until 2002. After my great grandparents passed, the house transferred to MeMe and PaPa. Then, after MeMe passed, my aunt moved into the house.

We spent a lot of time at that little house in Lyndonville, especially around the holidays. The place abound in family history. There was the mysterious burned room, the talking between rooms through the heat registers, and the stained glass window. (I wrote a story when I was in college about that quest. Stay tuned for that to be published here.) One of the coolest things to do, a rite of passage if you will, was to climb the big tree in the side yard next to the driveway.

There were actually two trees, one on either side of the house. As kids they were simply monstrously huge trees. They were tough to climb until you got taller. According to the stories I’ve heard all my life, the two trees were planted by my great grandfather in honor of his two children, Beverly and Betty. In fact, that’s what we called the trees when we were kids. Well, actually, it was MeMe and Aunt Betty.

The tree on the driveway side of the house was MeMe’s tree. That’s the tree we could climb. There was a hollow about eight or nine feet up. The big branches of the tree separated there, and left almost a room where we could stand. It took a long time for me to be able to climb up there, but once I did, no one could stop me. Of course, my cousin, Mike, had no fear and would climb ever higher in the tree. No matter how big I got, I could never attempts the heights he made it to.

The Aunt Betty tree was much more difficult to be climbed. I don’t think I ever was able to get into that tree. I know for sure that Mike got into it, but that it was a challenge. I’m not sure if Charlie did, or not, but he may have. There were no low branches on the tree to grab onto, so you had to try to shimmy up the trunk. This was a big tree. Two of us couldn’t put our arms around it together. However, there was a guide wire for the telephone pole right next to it. If you could get up that without cutting yourself, you had a good chance of making into the tree.

Those two trees could tell the stories of four generations of our family. They had witnessed seventy-five years of love and life. It seemed like the trees were actually a part of the family. They had grown up with all of us. So imagine my surprise when my parents informed me that the trees had been cut down. I didn’t believe it. I had to see it for myself.

Sure enough, as I came around the corner onto Eagle Street, I could see that the area around MeMe’s house was a lot brighter. There were no branches full of leaves to block the sunlight. The trees were gone. The Beverly Tree on the driveway side was completely gone. The Betty Tree was a four foot stump.

I don’t blame the new owners of the house. The trees were extremely close to the house. They probably caused damage to the roof. Plus all the light that was blocked by the leaves. The one next to the driveway was right on the driveway. It made it difficult to get in and out of the driveway. Still, I was sad to see them gone. For three quarters of a century, the trees stood sentry over the old homestead.

Maybe I have an overly nostalgic view of a house and some trees. However, it was the place we could all get together, the cousins, and have endless adventures. Those trees were the object of a lot of our recreational time while visiting. Seeing the empty spaces, I thought about all those times growing up. Those were some good times.

Craig Bacon has been told to go climb a tree on numerous occasions. He wishes he could do it just one more time.