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Southbridge Recollections:

“The Tree that Watched Us Grow Up”


How old is that tree I wonder!  Probably at least a couple of hundred years.  When my brother Rog sent me a picture of it, he wrote on the back, “This is the tree that watched us grow up”.   I imagine it “watched” a lot of others before us as well, as I think the buildings that made up Ballard Court were built sometime in the middle to late 1800s and it was more than likely there well before that time.  There is some reference to a Joshua Ballard working at one of the mills in Globe Village in 1850 and it is possible that Ballard Court is named after him or his family. 

Of course a tree can’t “watch” or “remember” but this one deserves more than a word or two, just for still being there.  In importance, it was only one of the several huge old trees that lined the riverbank, and not even the best one to climb, or to give shade from the hot summer days.  But when others bigger and seemingly stronger fell to storms through the years, this one remained.   

With all the trees in Massachusetts, what difference could one make.  Well, that picture of this particular tree stirred a lot of memories for my brother and I, which led to a long conversation of times spent near or around it, sitting on the little grassy knoll at its roots, listening to older children telling stories (like recently deceased and much missed great family friend Patricia Smith Fournier), good natured games of King of the Hill and wrestling, meeting friends to share lunch in the summertime, looking at bird nests and squirrels sheltered by the tree, and of course climbing.    

Sentiment goes a long way for those of us who have seen a lot of years.  This last visible prompt of life that was officially part of Ballard Court can still jog the memories of those of us who loved growing up there.  I don’t even know what kind of tree it is, but it made our lives better and it’s nice to know it’s still there.  “The Giving Tree”, by Shel Silverstein, comes to my mind and anyone who has ever read it to their children, understands how important a tree can be.


Janet Bedard Ross 

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