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Thanks for the Memories

Toomers Oak - All Rolled Up
A bittersweet weekend lies ahead for the Auburn Family. A-Day is always an exciting primer for the upcoming football season, and this year is no exception. There is a lot of excitement around the program right now and the fans are looking forward to seeing positive signs that things have begun to turn upward for the football team. This year however, the annual spring football game is to be followed by the final rolling of the Toomer’s Oaks.

After nearly three years of fighting, the two trees that have been an Auburn landmark for over a century have lost the battle with the poison used on them following the 2010 Iron Bowl. The event is intended to be a celebration by the university and not a time of mourning, but there’s no denying the magnitude of this loss to the Auburn Family. Indeed, Saturday is sure to be a surreal event for many.  The sheer volume of memories that will be present and recounted at tomorrow’s celebration will be a testament to that.


One of my fondest memories of my life occurred right there next to the oaks. It was during the 2008 football season. My wife (then girlfriend) and I had been dating three years. I remember planning for and purchasing an engagement ring and how I would ask her to marry me. Nothing I could think of seemed more appropriate (for us) than popping the question at Toomer’s following an Auburn win. Unfortunately for me, in 2008 wins were scarce for the football team. A couple of weeks went by (now mid-October) and I was getting pretty anxious.

Finally, one evening after a formal for her sorority, we were on our way home and I knew it was time. It was a Saturday and Auburn had either lost or was off completely so Samford Hall and the area around the oaks was fairly quiet. I somehow managed to initiate a detour to take a walk to the lawn in front of Samford without totally blowing my cover. I remember getting the ring from my truck and slipping it in my jacket pocket without her noticing. That was right before she asked for my jacket because it was cold out that night. (Pro tip! check the weather conditions carefully in the location where you plan on initiating a life altering event.)

We finally made it to our destination (Samford lawn), and I just remember trying to figure out exactly how I was going to pick-pocket a ring off of my wife and turn right around and propose to her with it. A hug served as my perfect opportunity. I reached in the pocket, grabbed the ring, and dropped to one knee. From a distance it probably looked like a poorly executed stabbing, but I accomplished my goal. She said yes. I’m pretty sure there were some excited calls made to friends and family, but it wasn’t long before we were standing under the oak trees, taking pictures, and tossing toilet paper around.

To me, that is the true beauty of what the oaks stand for. They don’t just represent celebration of victories in athletics, but also in academics, and all the way into Auburn peoples’ personal lives as well. It’s Auburn’s stage to say, “Hey, he/she/we did something great today.” The trees will ultimately meet their demise at the hands of an ugly act, but the spirit they represent and their legacy will always be part of Auburn.  

What is your most memorable Toomer’s Corner moment?

10 Comments

  1. War Eagle Girl War Eagle Girl says:

    Beautiful. sweet. tear in the eye. Thanks for sharing.

    Outside the Auburn family ~ others do not understand. And that’s okay. That’s our secret Auburn spirit only shared within the family.

    And War Eagle!

  2. Tiger on the mountain Tiger on the mountain says:

    After the games, Pops of ToTM always wanted to leave the stadium early to try to beat the traffic on the road back to B’ham. So anytime that I could convince him to stick around long enough for a victorious trip to the Oaks was awesome….one that sticks out (as there were many) was win over Florida in 2001.

    Of course one of my first memories that I have are walking under those oaks…so I will carry that with me.

    My hope for all of us is that time will heal our anger so it doesn’t settle into bitterness, so that we will all embrace the evolution of that magical corner on College and Magnolia.

  3. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    Nice Derrick … very appropriate on the eve of the last rolling of the trees.

    While I look forward to seeing what the renovated corner will look like, I just can’t imagine Toomer’s corner without the oaks. Fond, sentimental, and precious memories abound.

  4. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Great spot for a marriage proposal! My fondest Toomer’s memories were always sitting on the wall near them and drinking a lemonade when it was hot. Back when I was in school, that intersection was near pretty much every business sort of deal a student had to do. (Village Mall opened while I was down there, but it was a long way to walk from campus.)

    …..If you needed money, you cashed a check at Central Bank (now Compass…). Needed a textbook no one else had, J&M. If you wanted the latest Aerosmith album, there were three record stores within a block of the oaks. (Above Ground, Cheap Thrills, and Oz.) Cheap Thrills was also the place to buy bongs and such. Super Foods was around the corner, for the occasional grocery run.

    …..I’d finish my business, get a lemonade, and sit on the wall and daydream under those oaks. And I’d watch all the pretty girls go by. We may not be number one in football right now, but Auburn always has the most great-looking ladies per capita of any school I’ve ever been around!

    …..Proposals… I popped the question to my future wife at the gates to Jackson Square, in the New Orleans French Quarter. The bum kicked back on the sidewalk a few feet away piped up, “Say, since you so happy, got any spare change, you?”

  5. WDEGirl says:

    My brother rolled the Oaks, when Bo Jackson won the Heisman. I rolled the Oaks frequently in the Joe Ciampi years for women’s basketball. We rolled the Oaks together on December 2, 1989, after the win in the 1st Iron Bowl in Jordan Hare. We both have cap and gown pictures under the Oaks.

    Indeed, nobody outside the Auburn Family can possibly understand.

    My brother and I will be there with our parents, who funded our AU education and are rightful members of the AU Family, tomorrow to roll the Oaks one last time and say farewell . It will be bittersweet.

    WDE

    • AETiger AETiger says:

      I also rolled the Toomers Oaks after Bo winning the Heisman. We were all at the now destroyed Sewell Hall (all the football players lived there then). After the announcement we all beat-footed it to Toomers. What a memory!

  6. mvhcpa says:

    Wonderful, wonderful story, Derrick, and a memory that I don’t think could be topped!

    I have had several great moments following great AU wins. I remember listening to the last Ga. Tech game before the two game mini-series in the 2000’s on the radio (it’s hard to think in today’s cable/satellite environment that the game wasn’t on TV). After Lawyer Tillman made that amazing catch and Jim Fyfe went absolutely wild (voted Jim’s number one call, by the way), I knew I had to get down to the Corner. I only had half a roll left on my roller, and none other in the house. I grabbed it and RAN down Magnolia all the way from Donahue, pretty much the first time I felt absolutely compelled to go to Toomer’s for a roll.

    Michael Val
    (who also led a protest “walk” against “the man” at the Corner, but that story is for another day!)

  7. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Looking past my times with toomers… I fast forward to my son’s. Both he and my daughter got to experience the 2010 season. After the Arkansas game… I knew AU was for real. I knew the season was destined to be a great one… but I walked on egg shells not to jinx my tigers… we went to the corner after the game and my son and daughter got to roll their first tree. It was as awesome as the game itself. I will never forget that…

    I thought that would last until they were in college and on campus at Auburn. That can still happen but I guess that the tradition isn’t to be.

    But one day… one day maybe my son will be taking his son to a game. And maybe he will tell him about the time Grandad showed him how to do it. That is a legacy I can live with…

    For Toomer’s!

    War Eagle!!!!

    Now and forever!

  8. Susan Susan says:

    I was a freshman at Auburn in 94 and I was in the marching band. My first trip to the corner was epic. The band was there, the cheerleaders. It was such a great moment and Toomer’s Corner was the perfect place to extend the euphoria after winning a football game. I still have a few scraps of TP from that night. I’ve been so sad about the trees and I really wish I could have seen them one last time.

    I believe in Auburn & LOVE IT!
    WDE!