The old apple tree is no more.
For about 160 years, it had graced the hillside as the library, Hogan Center, and Smith Hall grew up around it. A determined survivor of the orchard that was one of the components of the farm upon which the College was planted, it had become increasingly decrepit during the past decade. Heavy wires bound the main branches to each other, and a sturdy metal prop supported a projecting limb. Still, it bloomed every spring with an exquisite show of blossoms, and produced edible apples in September. It must have been one of the trees that occasioned the line “All they eat is applesauce” in the Boston College song that derided Holy Cross. [HC students retaliated with a song using the BC melody to deride “the high school on the hill…. where HC dumps its swill!]
The tree came down this week, sacrificed to the grand renovation that will enhance the space between Dinand, Smith, and Hogan. Already today, machines were removing large chunks of concrete from the area to make room for grass and a beautiful, bucolic space in the midst of our campus. But the Old Apple, the grand survivor of over a century and a half of winters, generous supplier of beauty in the spring and of apples in fall, wasn’t destined to last forever. She carried the signs of her mortality more clearly every year.
She will be missed.
Fortunately, our grounds people were able to take grafts, and we may look forward to her daughters gracing our campus in the future. That would be a great link with the past and a living connection, at one remove, with the memorable times of Fitton and Fenwick and Mulledy.
Today, one ancient apple tree remains, on the southeast lawn of Clark Hall. I visited it today; it is showing its age, serving as a reminder that we live in a world that is passing away. But, thank God, we have memories of beautiful things that are no more.