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.

Figure 1. Postcard featuring the Scranton School for the Deaf, c. 1907-1915. Photo: unknown, public domain.

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).

Figure 2. Old Beech tree in the evening. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

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.

Figure 3. Old Beech tree at sunset. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 4. Old Beech tree with ivied wall at sunset. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 5. Old Beech tree with ivied wall before sunset. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 6. Old Beech tree catching golden sunset light. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 7. Old Beech tree catching reddish sunset light. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 8. Old Beech tree scar and limb. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 9. Old Beech tree reaches out to us. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 10. Old Beech tree as shadows gather. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 11. Old Beech tree with dormer. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 12. Old Beech tree branch inosculation. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 15. Old Beech tree lopped limb scar. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 16. Old Beech tree bark texture and depth. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 17. Old Beech tree graffito. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 18. Old Beech tree sloughed bark. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 19. Old Beech tree in morning light. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 20. Old Beech tree morning glow. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 21. Old Beech tree morning glow detail. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 22. Old Beech tree showing its height. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 23. Old Beech tree evening backlit branch. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 24. Old Beech tree leafing on a spring evening. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 25. Old Beech tree branch in spring. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 26. Old Beech tree skeletal hand trunk. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 27. Old Beech tree summer evening trunk. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 28. Old Beech tree scarred trunk. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.
Figure 29. Old Beech tree with sun behind. Scranton School for the Deaf Campus, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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