“Our Trees”

Bixler Lake, Kendallville, Indiana. From the collection of Michael Mapes

Our trees rise high o’er every street
And spread out till the branches meet
To form the leafy canopies,
Providing shade for you and me;
But did you ever come to know
That many, many years ago
These trees we look with pride upon
Were planted here by Sassafras John?
A kind old man in gumshoe boots
Who never cared to wrap the roots,
But this one fact can’t be denied;
The trees John planted never died,
But through the years have grown so tall,
A source of pride for one and all.
He always loved the great outdoors,
He dug up trees from forest floors,
And over bumpy country roads
Would haul ’em in by wagon loads,
I’d follow him about the town,
Goin’ up the streets and down,
And sometimes he would let me ride
Upon the seat…close by his side.
I’d laugh when he’d sing…”Tee Dee Dum,”
Or say, “By Cracky,” or “By Gum.”
I wonder if he ever thought
The boy that he of Nature taught
Would, through the magic of a pen,
Someday bring him back…and then
Have people look with pride upon
The handiwork…of Sassafras John.
Our trees…that by the winds are bent,
Each one…a living monument
To a kind old man of great renown
Who beautified our lovely town.

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