Stay Tuned: Arbor Day

by Jeanne Curley

(originally published in February 2001 newsletter)

As I sit looking out at my sleeping garden, and the tall barren trees that seem to surround me, I remember the mostly forgotten celebration of Arbor Day.

The year was 1892, when within the short space of six months, three honored members of the Houghton Horticultural Society passed away: Cyrus Mason Tracy, James Warren Newhall, and Henry L. Chase. Rather than molten bronzes or sculptured stone, three slight saplings were planted as appropriate tributes to their memories. These men were strong lovers of nature and the trees were their living memorials.

Cyrus Tracy was a botanist of acknowledged ability and authority. It was through his persistent energy that the public park system was inaugurated. If there was one tree that he loved and adored more than any other, it was the noble sycamore maple, a specimen which at one time stood on South Common St. near Pleasant. Remembering this, the Society planted a purple leaf sycamore maple as a fit monumental tribute to his memory. They felt the purple foliage was the royal robe that clothed his spirit.

James Newhall was a native of this city. He suffered from a spinal disease that made it almost impossible for him to get around. He was fondly remembered as always having a pleasant smile and good cheer. For him, the Society chose a cut leaf birch, the bark emblematic of his pure character.

Henry Chase, beloved master of the Whiting School, was a conscientious, well-qualified, successful teacher of thousands of pupils in his forty-eight years in Lynn schools. The Society dedicated a Norway maple, planting it at the foot of Mt. Gilead, as it was a favorite spot of Mr. Tracy's. Doctor Goodell, President of the Houghton Horticultural Society, conducted the exercise before a small group of interested people, as the city forester, James Teel, did the planting.

Three slight saplings. I wonder if Mother Nature has guarded these monuments that are her own flesh and blood.

Just a note: Another year, another Arbor Day, a handsome elm was planted in the center of the island in Goldfish Pond.

A group of actors, known as The Alvin Joslyn Company, were playing at Proctor's Theatre. Charles L. Davis (aka Alvin Joslyn) was invited by James Teel to do the honors. Just imagine this production today.

First, they rode the Tallyho Coach through the city, drove through Swampscott and back, and then to the pond. As Mr. Davis, his manager, and Mr. Teel proceeded to the island, a quartet of the Alvin Joslyn Company occupied the nearby bandstand and sang "Auld Lang Syne." As Mr. Davis, in his shirtsleeves and tall hat, threw dirt by the shovelfull, over a thousand people gave cheer after cheer.

The gentleman said the occasion was one of great pleasure to him and one to be long remembered. He only hoped the tree would last as long or even longer than some of the shoes made in Lynn.

This would have been pleasant to witness, and as I read these stories, I think surely I was born too late for my time.

See Also

Articles

Bringing Home the Woods by Jack Walsh

Change and the Woods

Divinity and the Woods

Holiday Greeting

Lions and Pirates and Caterpillars, oh my!

Lynn Woods Reflections

Minutes from SSSP

Old Names in Lynn Woods

Stay Tuned: Dungeon Rock

Stay Tuned: Houghton Horticultural Societ

Stay Tuned: Odd Fellows Hall

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The Vernal Pools of Lynn Woods

What Exactly is a Weetamoo?

Where Did It Come From?

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