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Mixed Emotions about Final Toomer’s Rolling

By on April 1st, 2013 in Football, News 13 Comments »

There has been a lot written about the “celebration” following A-Day on April 20th when fans are invited to roll Toomer’s Corner for one last time. The city and university are spending a lot of money promoting and putting on the event.

There’s commemorative toilet paper being made available and once the dead trees are chopped down the following day, fans will have a chance to own a piece of history. Within days, there will be thousands of souvenirs stamped Auburn Oaks on them.

Auburn will charge a small fortune for you to own a piece of nostalgia. I guess there’s nothing wrong with all of it. You couldn’t very well just chop down the trees without some sort of send off.

I still find the whole process a little weird. I’d like to say the gathering will bring back memories of good times with family and friends after big Auburn wins. I’ve made a lot of great memories under those old oaks.

It’s still a little early for me.

When I see those dying trees today, a rage comes over me. I don’t think of Saturdays past, but rather see the face of an ignorant moron who got off too lightly. I think back to the comments I’ve heard from some Alabama people who’ve admitted to taking delight in Auburn’s anguish.

Those trees now symbolize for me a rivalry gone too far. What once was a state’s greatest asset has now been poisoned by the likes of sports shock jocks and fans who couldn’t find Tuscaloosa or Auburn on a map if their life depended on it.

I know there are many good Alabama people out there who’d never wish such actions on Auburn. I know thousands of dollars were raised and donated by people who wear crimson.

But still…

It hurts to look up at that corner. That intersection represents heaven on earth for me. I proposed to my wife a few steps away. I first visited there as a child with my father. In recent years, my own family has made that trek on football Saturday’s.

The final rolling of Toomer’s Corner will be no celebration for me. I’m not even sure I’ll be in attendance. I may head to the car after the A-Day game. I’ve never been big on funerals.

Throwing toilet paper onto dead limbs is not something high on my bucket list. The real celebration will be when those new magnificent replacement oaks are transplanted a few years from now. In the spirit of the Easter season, I’m all about the rebirth.

I hope you attend the event. I may change my mind and see you there. Right now, I’m not feeling it. This story is not suggesting the final rolling is a bad idea. We all say good-bye in different ways.

Personally, I choose to remember the good times – and right now, that’s not so easy.


  1. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    I agree Jay, Very well put.

  2. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    I personally think the way that it is being handled is a bit surreal. Its almost as if we are cashing in on their demise. I do see the logic i guess to help pay for the replacements. For me, its not going down well. I sort of think these trees deserve some reverence. Maybe they get a state funeral. Sort of how bama did with bear? Not sold for souvenirs. To me, its just another example how Jay Gouge and Jacobs remind me of what is wrong with Auburn.


  3. MyAuburn MyAuburn says:

    I have some of the same feelings Jay. The dislike I have for the Bammers who took great joy in the demise of the trees is high. They would step on the neck of an AU fan who was down. Or teabag him.
    Rolling the trees one last time is symbolic at best and I don’t know if I want to be a part of it either. Tough call, but I doubt I will be there.
    I do know this, every time I roll my “Baby Toomer tree” now standing over 10 feet tall in my yard I will think of the times I was under the magnificant oaks at Toomers Corner. It will always bring a sad moment and an angry moment for me.

  4. Autgr91 says:

    I agree with your thoughts Jay because I too am filled with rage each time I see those old oaks in person now. However I plan to attend for one reason-my children. My four year old and seven year old have been brainwashed since birth with all things Auburn. They’ve danced in the streets at Toomer’s on Friday evenings before games, laughed wildly at Aubie’s antics during pep rallies, gone on “sugar highs” while sipping the lemonade there, and watched in amazement as it “snowed toilet paper” (their words!) on late Saturday evenings after wins while perched atop my shoulders. I’ve comforted my sweet baby girl while she cried big tears after hearing of what the “mean man” did to our trees. I’m fortunate that they got to see the trees in all their glory, and I want to teach them about life and how things can go bad when you go a little too far. One day, they will hopefully get to take their children to Auburn and to Toomer’s and enjoy the next generation of trees and have their hearts filled with the same joys that I have experienced at that wonderful place. But they will also hopefully learn that what they say and do can cause great joy or great harm to others in the world, and that they should live accordingly. Life is made up of memories-good and bad. I hope my children (and me for that matter) can remember that how we react to the bad memories makes us who we really are. Just my thoughts as an Auburn man and dad.

  5. AUTigerinBR says:

    Jay, I am with you. Friday I went to bid my farewell to the trees and it was just “yuck!”. There were people taking pictures, but I did not want any pictures of the way they are now. However,I do think there should be a celebration for what those special trees and that place on campus have meant to us– wonderful memories of my Daddy, Bo winning the Heisman, beating Alabama at home, my children having a great time running around after games– but I am having to work hard to focus on that. I think we are grieving for what was and what could have been. And I really hate that a game has gotten to the point where people behave so badly and sometimes do harm when it does not turn out the way they want. The lesson for our kids is pride in our school and team without dragging down the other school. Don’t get me wrong, we have some fun (or lately they do) with family and friends who have chosen the Evil Crimson Way or those Purple Tigers since we live in Baton Rouge, but these days I am pretty choosy who I talk football with– don’t want to take the risk that they are Updyke Crazy. Isn’t that sad?

  6. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    So, I’m going to start thinking of the ‘last roll’ as an Irish wake for the Trees. Although, I find it hard to be joyous at such an occasion and am thankful that I live 1160 miles away….at least for the 20th. I saw them Summer of 2011, and they looked rough, so I can’t imagine how sad they look now.

    After I found out that the oaks were poisoned and my sons would never know what it was like to walk under them, to see sunlight stream through their branches, much less roll them after a game, I bought little ToTM the ‘Giving Tree’. I put an inscription in the front in reference to the Oaks. One day when he learns how to read, I hope he asks me about it……

  7. mvhcpa says:

    Beautiful reflection, Jay. Although I am going to the game and the final roll, I can see exactly how you feel and what you mean.

    I would like to be able to say that I am big enough to forgive Harvey Updike for what he did, but I am still working on it. You know, I can forgive one miserable excuse for a human being better than I can ALL the Bama fans who think that act of cowardice was a great statement for superiority of the Crimson Tide. I know there are plenty of decent Bama folk who are in no way impressed and are sickened by this act, but we have seen what the “real fans” of the Crimson and White are like by their glee at our pain, and that makes me beyond angry, vengeful, or whatever you want to call it.

    Michael Val
    (who would REALLY, REALLY like to see “Al from Dadeville” hung in effigy from our oaks!)

  8. Jay Coulter Jay Coulter says:

    Thanks for the great comments. I enjoyed reading each of them. It seems we are all torn about the upcoming event. In the end, it’s probably the right thing to do. I just hope we can move past it quickly. I’m ready to look forward.

    It’s time for the sane people on both sides to take back the rivalry. These past few months without Finebaum have been more than wonderful. Unfortunately, the guy will come back bigger and stronger. He plays a big role in turning this rivalry into uncontrolled hatred by providing a platform for these nuts.

    • DBAU81 says:

      Jay, you are exactly right. Talk radio (especially Finebaum, who depends on the Iron Bowl rivalry for his livelihood) and the Internet have provided a forum for the crazies who actually make up only a relatively small percentage of the fan base to seize a disproportionate amount of the attention. As a result, the rest of the country, and some of the fans of both schools, have a gotten a skewed perspective of what this rivalry is really all about. The tree poisoning incident, while both despicable and sad, was really more about the actions of one mentally disturbed individual than it was about the nature of the rivalry itself. It would be a real tragedy if the sane, rational and decent people on both sides allowed a few nuts to hijack the greatest rivalry in college football. In the end, though, the only thing any of us can control is our own conduct, especially when confronted with classless (or even criminal) behavior from the other side. That is why, while I completely understand the opposite viewpoint, I support what the University is trying to do with the final rolling of the trees. It’s a way to both bring some closure to a sad chapter in the rivalry’s history and, hopefully, show the rest of the world that our side, at least, is ready to move forward in a positive way.

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……My favorite times with the trees were pretty much uniformly before the games. There’s been worry about their health and future well before Harvey did his deed. I’d make it a point to swing by and gaze fondly, while I was walking around campus.

    …..After the game, it’s time to get the heck out of Dodge, and back to the Tragic City, for me.

    …..I still haven’t made up my mind whether I’m attending this year’s A-Day. Many of my friends I’ve watched games with over the years aren’t going this time. And the game’s on TV live on CSS this year, too. Go to the game, or do a live thread? That’s the question. Either would be fun. And I’ve got a camera now that can hold over 3000 pictures. I’d be set for practice pictures for life!

    …..I might just make my decision depending on the weather. Stay tuned.

  10. Col.Angus Col.Angus says:

    Now that the time has come that the Oaks will truly no longer be with us, I am disgusted with the situation we find ourselves in. This was Auburns 9/11. I know thats over-the-top, but I think thats the only way you can put it in terms that people would understand. The Toomers Oaks, were our longest standing grand tradition, known throughout the south. They were tangible, real, LIVING. They were one of the only icons in college football that every fan could touch and physically participate in its tradition. The were the epicenter of the gameday experience, greeting you as you arrived on campus and the last thing you saw as you left. It was THE landmark that all Auburn fans knew and was enjoyed by all Auburn fans of every age. You could enjoy them on gameday….and every other day. They stood for over a hundred years, a physical reminder of birth and renewal, and of generations come and gone. In a time when technology permeates every fabric of our lives, they were a constant reminder of the beauty of nature and of a simpler bygone time, the essence of which that makes Auburn the truly special place that it is in the hearts of all who love her. Alabama has no similar icon to my knowledge outside of their statues. They can’t know what this means to us and now they are gone…forever….they can never be replaced…destroyed by the same ignorance and hatred that consumed the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Those men sought out an icon, a symbol, whose destruction would be remembered for generations…..something that would bring great pain and horror to America. The same thing was done to Auburn and it has done just as much damage. Everytime you pass by the corner of College and Magnolia, it will be stark reminder that Auburn was unjustly attacked and that justice was not afforded to us. To me, its no coincidence that Auburn’s decline has accelerated in the shadows of the Oaks dying limbs.
    Make no mistake, deep down even the most liberal Alabama fan takes a little satisfaction at the demise of the Toomer Oaks and the pain their deaths cause. They could never say so, they will ALWAYS say that the act was horrible and wrong, but deep down there is still a smirk, a knowing that the Tide has beaten Auburn again. If you think I’m wrong, if you think I’m being overdramatic, think of how they woud feel if the statue of the Bear was coated with an acid that slowly dissolved it as payback for winning a championship, never to be replaced, and they had to live with that knowledge every time they went on campus. Their would be no consoling them, and there would be unbelievable hatred directed towards Auburn and its fans. Luckily no such thing has happened, because it would probably take the rivalry somewhere it would not survive. That being said though, the sight of the Alabama logo now disgusts me and I hold the majority of those that scream “Roll Tide!” in contempt. They do not understand the depth of our loss, nor do they care….and thats a big problem.

  11. AuburnBuck says:

    I grew up in Kansas and choose Auburn for their excellent Aerospace Engineering program, graduated in ’66. My experience is; a lot of Alabama fans hate Auburn, but very few, if any, Auburn fans hate U of Alabama. It appears to me the two schools are of a vastly different culture. I can not imagine an Auburn fan doing something similar on the Alabama campus.