It Was Just a Little Tree

by Virginia Plunkett

Once upon a Christmas, there was a little tree nestled in among the taller ones on the Christmas Tree lot. Shirley and Bob Brothers, with their young sons, Bob, Jim, and Bill, browsed through the lot hoping to find the perfect tree.

Up and down the Christmas Tree lanes they walked and then the boys saw the little tree. They all fell in love with it.

They learned that the tree was a cedar of the deodar family, or devadaru, which means “divine tree”, closely akin to the cedars of Lebanon.

They took the little tree home. And, trimmed with tiny lights, ornaments, and tinsel, it sat on a living room table and seemed to glow with pride all through the holidays. Hoping the little tree might possibly take root and live…a very doubtful possibility…they planted it in the front yard on New Year’s Day.

In 1965, Bob and Shirley sold the property at 4400 Live Oak to John and Vivian Walker, and for twenty years the tree stood majestically in their front yard. The once tiny little Christmas tree, planted on a New Year’s Day in 1961, had grown up with the neighborhood children.

Now it so happened that the little tree had another mission to fulfill…the Greater Waco Beautification Association was searching for “the perfect tree” to be the city Christmas tree. Headed by the GWBA president, Jackie Wooldridge, the committee drove all over town looking…and then they saw it! It was “the perfect tree” and they fell in love with it just like the three little boys did that Christmas in 1961.

John and Vivian Walker, the gracious couple they are, told the committee that of course they could have the tree. “But,” John said, ”You will cover up the hole won’t you?”

On a December evening at Indian Spring Park, the once tiny little tree stood 40 feet tall. It had a bright star on the tip top and, trimmed with thousands of colored and red bows, the tree again glowed with pride because now it was the City Christmas Tree!

The scene that December evening brought back a nostalgic interlude for one of the neighborhood children…Christi Ratliff Breeding . “I played under that tree when I was a little girl,” Christi said. “Bob and Shirley Brothers’ yard was our gathering place, and Bob, Bill and Jim had the best baseball equipment.”

Christi said she played outfielder and, “I was a good hitter, too.” Trying to remember the names of the neighborhood friends, Christi remembered Gail St. John, Carolyn, Mike and Dale Carlisle, Klaus and Martin Krohn, Rick, Randy, David and Cathy Hensley, Bill Casey, Jim and Bob Stewart, Rhett Taylor, Mark, Linda, and Allen Storey, Sue Ingram, and Randy Fondren.

The Christmas 1984 tree-lighting ceremony was the usual happy occasion, yet for many it was not without sadness…the tree had been slowly dying from blight. After the holiday season, the red bows and colored lights were removed, and the tree that had reached out its leafy arms with the love and spirit of Christmas, was cut down.

There’ve been other beautiful Christmas Trees and there’ll always be beautiful Christmas Trees at Indian Springs Park, but there’ll never be another just like the City’s first Christmas Tree.

And so, with love from three little boys, the neighborhood children on Live Oak Street, and all of us-Thanks for the memories, little tree!

From the book “Around Again” by Virginia Plunkett.

(This is the type of tree mentioned here, but this is not that tree. Image from Google Images. )

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