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Mabel's apple tree

Mabel's apple tree.
Mabel's apple tree.

Trees are around us in the thousands and with so many of them we hardly notice their individuality. Yet, some trees have a unique story.

Such a tree caught my attention over a decade ago as it singularly stood out as the house nearby it was demolished. That tree dominates a green space near the parking lot across the street from the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.

My attention to that tree was heightened even more once I realized its uniqueness; a fruit bearing, five point, red delicious, apple tree, commonly known in Newfoundland as a Christmas apple. The apples on that tree are smaller than those orchard grown, but taste just fine in an apple pie or a crisp.

My guess was it had sprung from a discarded apple core, maybe even from the garbage waste from the former owners house that stood near the tree (Taylor homestead, he was a watch repairman and they owned a shop near where Sweeney's Photo now stands).

My guess was totally wrong and the apple tree's real beginning became known to me just weeks ago as I was parked on lower Carmelite Road watching the mill office being demolished.

Parked next to me was our former town policeman Lou Horwood and through opened windows we conversed across the way. Lou expressed his angst about everything around town being torn town and out of the blue came, "Sure, the town almost cut down the apple tree across from the stadium. But I told them they couldn't because it was planted by Mabel Cobb in 1925. She brought that tree here from New York" (Mabel was a student at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and her sister Dora was married to William Taylor).

Days later, as Lou and I stood near the apple tree, I asked how he knew about the tree. As a town policeman he was sent by the town clerk, the late Dave Shapleigh, to Mabel's house to hear her complaints about stadium users parking their vehicles too close to her house. Lou told me she used to get so upset with the situation she would smash eggs on the windshields.

From that complaint their friendship grew and thus Lou learned about Mabel's apple tree. And he too has picked apples from it for home baking.

Mabel Cobb, born 1900 on Pilley's Island, was a remarkable woman (see Sue Hickey's informative piece on her; Grand Falls-Windsor: Its Place and Its People pp 352-353). The late Ron Ennis spoke well of Mabel, the teacher, script writer, author and poet who spent many years working in New York City - the Big Apple.

Once back home some of her poems appeared in the Advertiser prior to her death in 1985. The town awarded an Arts Appreciation Award in her name in 2002.

On the day I met Lou at Mabel's apple tree I discovered a second red delicious apple tree around town. Its size indicates it is a younger tree than Mabel's and its location is for now, my secret. The planter of that tree I may never know.

However, the 91-year-old apple tree on Jones Street is now for me a reminder of its planter, then youthful Mabel Cobb, woman extraordinaire. Her tree, now on town property, deserves special protection all the days of its life.

Thanks Lou for sharing your story. And thanks Lou for saving Mabel's apple tree.

Andy Barker can be contacted at abdp9@hotmail.com

Such a tree caught my attention over a decade ago as it singularly stood out as the house nearby it was demolished. That tree dominates a green space near the parking lot across the street from the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.

My attention to that tree was heightened even more once I realized its uniqueness; a fruit bearing, five point, red delicious, apple tree, commonly known in Newfoundland as a Christmas apple. The apples on that tree are smaller than those orchard grown, but taste just fine in an apple pie or a crisp.

My guess was it had sprung from a discarded apple core, maybe even from the garbage waste from the former owners house that stood near the tree (Taylor homestead, he was a watch repairman and they owned a shop near where Sweeney's Photo now stands).

My guess was totally wrong and the apple tree's real beginning became known to me just weeks ago as I was parked on lower Carmelite Road watching the mill office being demolished.

Parked next to me was our former town policeman Lou Horwood and through opened windows we conversed across the way. Lou expressed his angst about everything around town being torn town and out of the blue came, "Sure, the town almost cut down the apple tree across from the stadium. But I told them they couldn't because it was planted by Mabel Cobb in 1925. She brought that tree here from New York" (Mabel was a student at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, and her sister Dora was married to William Taylor).

Days later, as Lou and I stood near the apple tree, I asked how he knew about the tree. As a town policeman he was sent by the town clerk, the late Dave Shapleigh, to Mabel's house to hear her complaints about stadium users parking their vehicles too close to her house. Lou told me she used to get so upset with the situation she would smash eggs on the windshields.

From that complaint their friendship grew and thus Lou learned about Mabel's apple tree. And he too has picked apples from it for home baking.

Mabel Cobb, born 1900 on Pilley's Island, was a remarkable woman (see Sue Hickey's informative piece on her; Grand Falls-Windsor: Its Place and Its People pp 352-353). The late Ron Ennis spoke well of Mabel, the teacher, script writer, author and poet who spent many years working in New York City - the Big Apple.

Once back home some of her poems appeared in the Advertiser prior to her death in 1985. The town awarded an Arts Appreciation Award in her name in 2002.

On the day I met Lou at Mabel's apple tree I discovered a second red delicious apple tree around town. Its size indicates it is a younger tree than Mabel's and its location is for now, my secret. The planter of that tree I may never know.

However, the 91-year-old apple tree on Jones Street is now for me a reminder of its planter, then youthful Mabel Cobb, woman extraordinaire. Her tree, now on town property, deserves special protection all the days of its life.

Thanks Lou for sharing your story. And thanks Lou for saving Mabel's apple tree.

Andy Barker can be contacted at abdp9@hotmail.com

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