floating worlds
Return to Pawnee Writings

Four Arbor Days

by Clifford Taylor

This story appeared in The Carlisle Arrow, volume VIII, number 32, Carlisle Indian School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, April 19, 1912.

Opposite the Hospital stands a sturdy horse-chestnut tree, stretching out its brawny arms to guard the entrance. Strong and unmovable it stands there, a worthy namesake of the athlete and gridiron hero whose name it bears; for the tree is known to Carlisle by the name of “Thorpe,” a name which was bestowed upon it at its planting four years ago.
“Thorpe” was planted in the golden youth of the Class of 1912. On that first Arbor Day, the entire class, gaily adorned with streamers of tan and blue, left the Hall and gathered around the little sapling selected for the occasion by our painstaking nurseryman. Carefully its roots were buried in the rich soil, tenderly the coverlid of earth was tucked around the tender tree, gayly it was christened with laughter and merry speeches, and then was left to the tender mercies of the sunshine and the rain. To-day it stands in full beauty and vigor, a type of the vigorous, sturdy class which planted it and of the stalwart Thorpe for whom it was named. It is a splendid memorial of our first Arbor Day.
Filled with pride at the success of our first venture, the Class of 1912 laid elaborate plans for its second Arbor Day; but on the day set for the planting of our Sophomore tree, the clouds gathered, the golden rays of the sun hid themselves from sight, and the rain and chill breezes quenched all enthusiasm. So for two years, the Freshman horse-chestnut was to us the only symbol of our youth; it grew in strength as we grew in wisdom, and, in our days of discouragement, when impassible obstacles seemed to confront us, it whispered to us to keep right on growing and our outlook would be different as we neared the sky. As we near the end of our growing season here at Carlisle, we realize to the full the value of the tree’s silent example and its message to us to “keep on growing upward.”
A few feet to the north of our historic guard-house, stands our Junior tree, a little elm which is destined some day to cast its shadow over this historic spot. The day of its planting was a memorable one. The class assembled in the shadow of the guard-house, and under its old gray walls they planted the tiny sapling with many a jest and many a song. We gave to it the name which is of all words warmly cherished by the Class of 1912 – Loyalty; and there the little elm stands to-day loyally guarding the entrance to the campus, a constant reminder in the years to come of the class that put her there.
Once more the Class of 1912 celebrates Arbor Day – its last as a class. Appropriately a Weeping-beech is chosen for the planting, for were we not all weeping inwardly at the thought that the next Arbor Day would find us scattered no one knows whither. The ceremonies attendant upon the planting of this tree were extremely impressive. After the exercises by the school in the chapel, the Seniors, with banners proudly floating before them, marched out to the spot selected for the planting, a conspicuous place lying between the guard-house and the Administration Building. Each Senior as he stood around the newly-planted tree paid a tribute of original verse; when all had taken part in this ceremony, each took a handful of earth and threw it on the roots of the sapling, whose tiny branches were decorated for the occasion with tan and blue. The tree bears an honored name, one which is dear to the heart of every Senior, a name which stands for loyalty, for good counsel, and for ever ready help in all times of need. It would not be seemly to speak the name here, but all of you can learn it from the tree itself which keeps no secrets from nature lovers.
Three trees we leave behind us to guard the memory of the Class of 1912. With each of them we have planted the precious memories of our school life, and around them we have cemented anew the chains of friendship which must ever bind the class whose motto is “Loyalty.” As these trees grow in beauty, so may our lives grow in the beauty of right-living; as they stretch out their branches to guard the walls nearest them, so may we ever guard the name and fame of “Old Carlisle.”