Wright Thompson’s Tribute to Toomer’s Oaks
In the August 22, 2011 ESPN magazine, there appears an article by sports journalist and author Wright Thompson about Auburn’s beloved Oak Trees at Toomer’s Corner. He quotes Auburn historian David Housel; and talks about the history of the oak trees, about how the rolling of the oaks became an Auburn Tradition, and about what the oak trees mean to the Auburn faithful.
Below is an excerpt from his very poignant piece. It is offered here as both a tribute to the Oaks and to the eloquence of this great Southern author. It is a long expose but very well worth the readers time. Thanks to TET member G. Kevin for bringing this piece to our attention a few days ago.
This is recommended reading for all who consider themselves a part of the Auburn family. Here now is the excerpt from “A Tree Dies In Auburn.”
“AT TOOMER’S CORNER are little miracles. They grow farther north than most live oaks, and for this species of tree the slightest change in weather can be fatal. It turns out, in a strange bit of symbiosis, the trees don’t exist in spite of the town and campus around them. They exist, at least in part, because of them, as the brick and concrete hold several extra degrees of heat, enough to make a difference. The trees need Auburn to survive.
The oaks are nothing if not survivors. Their trunks hold dark spots where dead limbs have been cut away, the scars rubbed smooth. The living limbs twist up like an open hand, a canopy of green at the intersection of College and Magnolia in Auburn, Ala. On this spot, students celebrated the beginning of the Civil War and the election of Barack Obama. It has always been the center of Auburn.
For an SEC fan like me, it’s a famous place. Long before I’d ever actually seen the trees, I’d heard about Toomer’s Corner. A hundred and thirty years ago, the story went, these trees were planted. Around the turn of the century, the story went, people hung telegraph tape on the trees to announce an Auburn road win. When the telegraph faded away, toilet paper replaced the ticker tape. But the essential act remained and flourished, connecting generations. When Auburn won, the students rolled Toomer’s Corner.
It was joyous and innocent, right up until the day people first heard of Spike 80DF ….”
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