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Ghost Towns by State Site Search Tales from the Past Guest Book

The Old Man and the Stump.

They laughed at him. “Stupid old man, he will never do it.” They said things like, “Is he stupid?” and “Why doesn’t he just hire somebody to do it?” “That root must go to China.” “It will take him a year to do it.”

The cherry tree was over 15 years old when he first saw it. It was growing into a fine young cherry tree. The neighbors used to come over and ask if they could pick cherries and make pies. He was always glad to see them come. He was also glad when the fresh baked cherry pies arrived.

He smiled when he saw the squirrels jump from branch to branch. He enjoyed looking casually out the window to see the tree filled with birds enjoying the cherry feast. He cried at the cherry stains on his deck, sidewalks and driveway but he understood how the stains got there, thanks to the birds and the squirrels dragging the cherries all over the yard.

Year after year the cherry tree brought joy to many. Especially to the young neighbor boys who discovered a family of five raccoons sleeping in the tree late one afternoon. The fat raccoons had spent the afternoon enjoying a cherry feast in the tree. When their bellies were full and they were tired they just hung themselves over a branch and went to sleep.

Then in late March a tragedy struck. A heavy wet snowfall split the tree into three parts. The old man hoped it did not spell the end of the tree. When the snow melted the Breakfast Club came to help remove the tree. Within less than an hour, the use of three chains saws, the strong backs of four friends and a few trucks, they got the tree down and removed. Well, that is all but the stump. The old man left about three feet above the ground in hopes that a new set of branches would sprout.  

The squirrels and the birds still came looking for the tree but they all left sadly.

Several months had passed and several new branches were standing tall. It appeared that maybe the old man could successfully bring his beloved cherry tree back to life. The old man watched the tree carefully each day to see the progress. He was pleased.

On a bright June morning he rose out of bed, made his first cup of coffee and strolled to his office. He was about to sit down in his chair by the window when he saw the latest disaster. A large buck with a nice set of antlers was enjoying the cherry tree. Not enjoying the way the old man wanted. The buck was eating the fresh new branches off the cherry tree.

Death finally came to the tree. It just could not ever sprout new branches to replace what the deer had eaten. For over a year the old man let the stump sit in hopes that just maybe a new branch would sprout.  Nope, the old man had to admit defeat. Now he was faced with a new problem, how does the old man remove the stump?

 For days the old man walked around the stump pondering how to attack it. Should he used a stump grinder, a chain saw, fire, chemical rot, or maybe attempt to pull it out with his truck. He researched methods on the Internet. He asked his friends and neighbors for advice. They all said hire a stump grinder. That seemed like the easy way out to the old man.

At last he gathered up his tools, a pick, an axe, a couple different shovels, a chain, a high lift jack, a sledge hammer, a hand saw, a saws all, and a pair of gloves and threw them in the wheel barrow and headed for the stump.

For days they saw the old man toiling away, digging around the base of the stump, stopping now and then to walk around the stump and observe as if the walking around the tree would actually lift the tree out of the hole.  Again they laughed and said, “Stupid old man”. He didn’t work long or hard, he just did a little every day. The hole got bigger, the hole got deeper, and the dirt pile he dug out and hauled away got bigger.

Then the old man attacked the stump with the high lift jack. He placed the jack using a heavy chain around a root.  He would start to jack up the stump. Once he had maximum pressure on the jack he would let it sit with pressure on for several hours. He worked his way around the stump by moving the jack at least once every day. This went on for over a week. Each day a little more dirt came out, a few more roots were cut, chopped or broken. The old man was working that cherry tree stump like it was a loose tooth. He wiggled it back and forth until it finally popped out.

Well, it did not really pop out because it was in a hole but it did finally come loose. No more roots holding the tree in place. Now the old man had another problem. What to do with the stump. The old man had just decided to pressure hose the dirt from the stump and then cut it up into little piece he could use in his smoker.

He happened to turn around and saw a beautiful young maiden standing behind him. He was awe struck and speechless. It was this young maiden that solved his problem. She softly said, “I would like to use that charming tree stump as a decoration in my flower garden. Would you be so kind as to give the tree stump to me? I would also need help moving the stump to my garden. “

The old man grew a smile a mile wide. He said, “Sure would like to help you, miss.  Let’s get started.”

Now when the old man looks out the window he sees the decorations in a flower garden, not as good as a cherry tree brimming with wildlife but better then a stump.

Lesson learned:  Don't mess with a determined old man.