Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big Oak

If you travel roughly 30 miles north on US 319 to Thomasville, GA. you can visit one of the biggest trees on the east coast. The Big Oak is over 319 years of age and the span and girth of this large plant is "sun burn your tonsils" astonishing. You can imagine that this tree dates back in history to the late 1600's. True it was just a little sapling then but imagine the stories it could tell of our American history.

I have been to the Joyce Kilmer national forest in North Carolina. There you can see some virgin pines. As you will recall the early settlers cut down every tree in sight as they settled our country. They either built buildings with those trees or used them for fuel and warmth. The Joyce Kilmer forest contains a few trees that escaped the settlers axes and saws. You remember Joyce Kilmer penned the poem I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. Those trees are pretty impressive.

I have also been to California and observed the Seqoiuas, Redwoods whose girth is awe inspiring. However I am here to suggest to you that none are more inspiring than the Big Oak of Thomasviile.

I had a real estate client who told me an interesting story about the Big Oak. It dates back to when Dwight David Eisenhower was running for re-election to the presidency of the United States. He was running a whistle stop tour by rail. They were due in Thomasville and the people had all gathered around the train depot to hear Ike give a campaign speech. This would date back to roughly 1955.

Now Ike loved his golf and he also was quite a good photographer. On this particular occassion he and a secret service agent sneaked out the back of the train because Ike wanted to find the Big Oak and take a picture of it. They were able to find it and Ike was looking for just the right camera angle to capture its grandness. It worked out that the camera angle was from the front porch of one of the fine homes near downtown Thomasville.

Ike and the secret service agent went to the door of this home and knocked on it. The housekeeper opened the door and was astonished to find the president of the United States standing at her door with a secret service agent. The president introduced himself and the housekeeper assured him that he needed no introduction. Ike asked for the owner of the home. The housekeeper advised him that everyone who lived in the house was down at the train station waiting to hear him speak. He then asked her if she would mind if he shot some pictures of the big oak from their front porch. She assured him that would be fine and asked him if he would like some lemonade. Ike said that sounded very inviting.

After the president shot his pictures he and the secret service agent lingered on the front porch on a lovely summer afternoon sipping lemonade with the housekeeper. They lingered so long that Mamie, the wife of the president, had to make his speech for him. After a while the president and his guardian sneaked back on the train just as it was pulling out the station.

I have verified that the story is true from friends that I have in Thomasville. So the big oak is worth a drive up the road to visit. Even presidents have taken time to admire its stately branches.

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