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My friend, the pine tree

The Spirit of Tehachapi

I have often written about My Pet Tree in the backyard of my home. I had grown it from a tiny little green spear that appeared in a bed of pansies. It turned out to be a tree that is now taller than my house.

About 41 years ago, my granddaughter, Jacque, brought me a small cut off milk carton with a very little baby pine tree no taller than perhaps 8 inches high. Mr. Wright, her sixth grade teacher at Wells Elementary, had given each of the class a little pine tree to take home. Jacque had asked me to plant it in my yard as they were living in a rental home and would not want to plant it where she could not see it grow. Jacque her Tehachapi grandmother, yours truly, to plant it in my yard.

I asked my husband, Doyle, to plant it in our backyard, about center in location. I just must tell this: He said he didn't want it in the center because he didn't want to be mowing around it.

I laughed and was heard to say, "May I remind you that we have five able bodied sons and I venture to say that you cannot remember the last time you mowed a lawn? Also, we have no back lawn." Wrong sort of a reminder, I guess. Caught in his own trap, he smiled but did not reply. My husband had a green thumb and plants loved to grow for him. He planted the little pine tree, but not in the center of our yard; more toward the back of our lot.

At least it got planted and Jacque could watch it grow. I watered it carefully and regularly until it got a "toe hold" on the soil. I suspect it may have met a leech line from our septic system. As it turned out, it loved being in the ground. I finally decided it could just be on its own and did nothing; just let it grow like the thousands of pine trees in the Tehachapi mountains. Even the location was good, for one can see a lovely profile against the eastern sky at sunrise. I sincerely hope that the rest of the little pine trees that were an end-of-year gift from Mr. Wright have as good a home as Jacque's tree. Tall and stately and also appreciated in our "back" yard. Still no lawn, either, but I like the natural look. The pine is a green spot in the dead of winter and the year round birds think it's a great place, as well.

Note: Wells Elementary was built in 1935 for $43,000. It was a beautiful school with real slate blackboards and a cloak room for coats and lunch boxes in each classroom. It also has a stage with wide windows that opened when needed. The auditorium had hardwood floors and windows with drapes to close when Mr. Wells showed educational movies. No television then. It was in that auditorium that Mr. Wells had all grades gather on Dec. 8, 1941 to hear President Franklin Roosevelt ask for a declaration of war on Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. He wanted the students to listen to history being made. I remember the broadcast to this day.

I attended Wells Grammar School (later Wells Elementary) from 1937 to 1942, 4th through 8th grades.

After my husband retired and we moved here, my son, Thomas Gracey attended Wells from 4th through 6th grade (1976-79).

Another generation was added when my granddaughter, Jacque, attended from grades 4 through 6.

Wells' halls have grown up and are now the home of the Tehachapi Unified School District and only echo footfalls of adults hurrying to get to their meeting or employment.

If Wells' walls could talk!