A recent historical cyberspace discussion
group focused on trees. It seemed almost everyone had fond memories of a special tree. For
some it was Grandma's apple tree, the oak tree with the tire swing or for many folks that
grew up in the rural South it was the chinaberry tree.
As a child I lived on the corner of Third St. & Sunset Ave. in Perry,
Georgia. There was a wild cherry tree on the Third St. side that was my favorite. It was
just perfect for climbing but not big enough for a tree house. One thing I never really
understood was why the cherries where not like the maraschino cherries you get in the jar.
The tree was a great place from which to check out the Third St. traffic. It was a thrill
when Mr. Marion Green would come driving up the street and make the turn to his house
right in front of the tree. It was at this point that he would honk his horn which played
the State Farm Insurance jingle and announce his arrival to his daughters, Wallis and Mary
||In front of the Green house, right by the street was a huge old
oak tree about three feet in diameter. Its shade always provided a delightful place
to play sheltered from middle Georgia's humid summer heat. The tree's dense foliage kept
grass from growing so that the naked dirt underneath was cool and moist. This was
the home of many Doodle Bugs. "Doodle Bug, Doodle Bug, fly away home. Your house is
on fire and your children all gone". The dirt also was a great source of 'flour' from
which cupcakes were molded in discarded cans and decorated with leaves and wild flowers
(weeds). Mary Emily was especially good at making toad houses. By taking your foot (bare
always in the summer) and piling and patting down the moist dirt around it, then carefully
removing the foot, you are left with a prefect little toad house. Mary Emily would cut out
furniture from paper and make the little house quite 'comfy' for any frog wishing to take
My little brother liked the mimosa tree on the other side of our
house and called it his "happy tree". Mimosa's are messy trees and drop their
pink feathery blooms all over the lawn. However, despite this it was a very welcome
addition to the yard since the mimosa is a very fast growing tree and quickly offered a
cooling shade in the mist of what had previously been Mr. Smoak's corn field.
Our family's Southern traditional chinaberry tree was at the Moody farm near
Kathleen. The old farm's cotton field is now the site of the Matthew Arthur school and its
pecan orchard, a church. The chinaberry tree sat at the end of the lean-to tractor
shed built onto the barn. From the tree you could climb over onto the roof of the shed and
then scale that of the barn itself. My cousin Marianne still remembers the
"city-kid" that came to visit and managed to climb the tree and then onto the
shed roof but was afraid to climb down. This necessitated going to the house and getting
Momma. My Aunt Pauline pulled the family car to the shed and the
"city-kid" climbed down onto the roof of the car and then to the safety of the
farm yard. For a "country-kid" this was an amazing display of cowardice!
The berries of the chinaberry tree made for many courses of the make-believe
dinners and tea parties. And of course, every Southern child knows that chinaberries are
the perfect ammunition for a homemade slingshot. Targets were usually other kids legs. I'm
sure the authorities would have a lot to say about this today. But we WERE instructed to
aim low 8>)
||The other tree that I remember at the farm was the fig tree. I
didn't care for the figs right from the tree but boy oh boy did those figs make up into
some fine preserves. I can still see the kitchen table spread with an old sheet on top of
which the figs were piled high and then mounds of sugar poured over the top. They sat
overnight and the next day were cooked down into preserves and then sealed in Mason jars.
A very popular tree in Perry was the 'swingin' tree in the gully
at the intersection of of Hwy. 41 and Sunset Avenue. Lee's Barbecue sat on a corner and
the Wilson boys lived just down the street. It was probably Jerry Wilson and his brother's
who first thought to tie a long rope to the limb of an ancient oak growing from the side
of the gully. The tree's trunk was rooted on a natural platform from which one could grab
the rope and with a running leap swing out far and high above the 'canyon' floor sounding
the Tarzan yell.
Another tree which inspired great awe in Perry and was an attraction for
tourists traveling between the 'Nawth' and Florida was the one whose trunk was large
enough to house a little office at the Perry Court Motel. It was a kids delight! You
can see it by clicking the leaf.
your browser's back button to return to this page).
|One of Perry's treasures is Evergreen Cemetery with its beautiful
old monuments dating from the early 1800s. The fact that the old cemetery's dirt car paths
remain unpaved only heighten its charm. I have visited many old cemeteries in my quest to
discover my red clay roots. Those cemeteries whose paths have been paved have lost much of
their character. However, it is Evergreen's ancient oak trees dressed in draping gray moss
which are its most noble feature. These trees offer to the body relief from the blare of
the hot Georgia sun and nourish the soul with their majestic beauty. It is the trees which
impart to the landscape the serenity & peace required for life's everlasting sleep.
The Trees of Evergreen
I regret that my kids have never played in a chinaberry
tree or swung from a tree's parasitic vine into a cool creek . In fact, I'm not sure that
they have climbed any tree. Though I 'climbed-in' many as a child, for some reason I was
afraid to let my girls do the same. When my grandson came along, I of course knew little
boys just had to climb trees! However, I always seem to be at the base of the trunk with
waiting arms - just in case.