Friday, October 4, 2013

Dynamite Stories: Episode 1 - The Lombardy Poplars

Conversations with my nieces and nephews about trees in the yard at the old home place on Paw Paw Avenue in Watervliet reminded me of a number of stories involving dynamite. This is the first in the series.

Episode 1 - The Lombardy Poplars

If you've been to the Woodruff family compound in Watervliet, you might wonder, "what Lombardy poplars?" There are none anymore. Their demise is the story.

Between Mother and Dad's house (now owned and occupied by Pat and Geoff Geisler) and the field where my brother Dick built his house were a number of trees. From north to south: an overly mature sugar maple out by Paw Paw Avenue, then two mature Lombardy poplars just east of the house, a big spruce tree, and finally two Catalpas.

One of the Lombardy poplars died a natural death--they are relatively short lived--and soon after the other just gave up and died too. Dad cut it down or had it cut down (I don't remember which), then decided to get rid of the stump. This was before you could get somebody to come in with a "stump grinder" to make the stump go away.

Dad's choice for stump removal was dynamite.

The problem was the trees were pretty close to the house, and Dad didn't want to splatter the house with dirt and wood chips. (I don't think Mother was around when Dad decided on dynamite.) So he came to us and asked for our favorite pup-tent to smother any debris.

We boys objected strenuously to that idea but Dad convinced us that our tent would be alright. So he dug in around the roots of the poplar stump and inserted what turned out to be an excessive number of sticks of dynamite.

He lit the fuse (we boys were in the house observing out the dining room window) and BALOOEY!! Our shredded tent sailed all the way over the house and dirt thoroughly splattered the east side of house. 

Mission accomplished, you might say--the stump was completely disintegrated--but we were not privy to the discussion Dad eventually had with Mother about the whole episode.