Close to my house is the old campus of the Pennsylvania Oral School, later termed the Scranton School for the Deaf. It’s now been purchased from nearby Marywood University and is being actively developed as the Patriot Resource Center at Marywood.
The school was lucky: over the 120-odd years it occupied this campus it was left more-or-less pristine and it largely retains the wonderful green space that the humane planners and architects of the nineteenth century prized.
A rich environment like that is a well of inspiration from which one can drink again and again. Today the drinks are on me and I’m lining up shots of a crusty, romantic old beech tree (all figures).
While I don’t yet know what the campus looked like when it was brand new in the late 1880s, figure 1 offers a datum in the period from about 1907-1915, according to the Hip postcard site. I suspect it was shot with a fairly long lens from Adams Avenue above where it bends east into Electric Street.
Our beech is the sapling standing almost exactly in the center of the postcard’s view, perhaps a meter from the gravel path leading in a broad curve to the Superintendent’s door. It’s newly planted, supported by a stick, offering little shade but full of potential.
That sapling was well planted and lovingly nurtured through the decades, and it exhibits one of those fantastically scarred and misshapen trunks for which Beeches are famous (e.g., fig. 2). It’s grown so tall, and spread so much that I couldn’t get far enough away to fit it into an 18 mm lens’s field of view!
A tree like this one becomes a monument; the sheer investment of time and survival into its life adds a sort of moral value. The tree is slowly dying: nothing alive lasts forever. But while we have it we should take the time to appreciate it and treasure it, just as we do old humans.