What’s causing so many oak trees to die over the last few years? That question has really been tossed around. The symptoms point mainly to three diseases, hypoxylon canker, oak decline, and anthracnose. Specialists have attributed the disease to several factors which include fungal infection, old age, insects, and drought. Ancient and stately post oaks seem most susceptible and many of them have been area landmarks for over a hundred years. It seems drought, insects, and old age work together to weaken a tree then one of three fungi moves in to complete the assassination. Leaves die first and then smaller limbs. In a year or two the bark peels away and the tree is a goner. Two of the fungal species are Hypoxylon atropunctatum and Cephalosporium diospyri, with the third called anthracnose.
If you wait too long to cut these trees the limbs may be barely hanging and could fall on you. Two large post oaks on the Dan Pickering place south of Charleston recently died and I cut them last week. The largest was about three feet in diameter and the rings showed it to be a hundred fifty years old. After doing some math we found this tree was a pup about the time the Civil War began. Charleston was going strong at that time and these sentinels have witnessed much. The trees were near an intersection where south would take you to the river to a bridge at Bluff Bank going toward Sulphur Springs. West would carry you to the fields in what we call the Hemby Bottom. Countless wagons caused erosion and now both these roads have high banks in places as testimony of traffic over the years. Hopefully we will get past the many years of drought before more huge and beautiful oaks die.
Maybe you will pardon me for going back in time. Some of the items may seem trivial but a little history is mingled in and some will find it interesting. Names may be mentioned that bring back memories of your own. From my ledger in 1985. Sunday, June 30. In the afternoon Jean and I went to Charleston and grabbled for catfish in eight hollow logs with no luck. It is either too early or too late for them to be laying eggs. Monday, July 1. Drove to Manatee trailer house place near Commerce to see the secretary, Edna Shamberger. She was having armadillo trouble and I needed to find where she lived. I knew some of the workers and while there visited with Ray Dean McKay, Donny Scott, Eddie Bell, Huck Elmore, and Roland Springfield. Donny said he had a filly he wanted me to break and he would bring her over to my house later that afternoon. At Edna’s house I found seven armadillo holes within seventy five yards of her house, three in the front flower bed. Filled them with water and waited but none came out. Must be staying further from the house.
Tuesday, July 2. Rode Donny Scott’s filly named Sissy. Fish fry in afternoon. Brother Larry’s family and the John Silman family. Fifteen people and twelve pounds of fillets. Had a little left. Seems like a half pound per person is about right. To our pool and fed catfish. Decided to catch a few. Rolled up pieces of bread and put them on hooks. Young Jay Silman brought his cane pole and tried a long time to catch a catfish. There was one slice of bread left and with it he hooked a five pounder. He had the end of the pole under his arm and was trying to sling the fish over his head. Rearing back like a drum major. Head almost touching the ground.
Tuesday, July 9. My EMS beeper went off at 7:50 a.m. Ben Ransom had been run over by a car near the Felix Harlan station. Only bruised. No tires hit him. July 11, I stopped by Harriet Wright’s and she paid me ten dollars for trapping an armadillo in her yard. July 13, we went to Pat Mayse yesterday and camped with Dean Houchins’ family. Virgil and Walter McFadden were camped next to us and fiddled until after 10:00 at night. Dean and I caught catfish and cooked them for our supper. July 14, fried more fish and had some left so we shared with the McFadden’s. A black widow spider was crawling up nine year old Greg’s arm as he was putting on his life jacket. While swimming at Lamar Point a small fish bit me five times and it hurt. Was bleeding in one spot. Home at 7:30 and rode Sissy.
July 15, the Charleston Store was opened by Joe Rakes about a week ago and today Mrs. Reichle was running it for him. Drove to the Woodard place at Longridge and walked out to the channel to grabble. Started raining and got harder. I swam back toward my pickup where I had left my beeper and clothes laying out. When I got out on the bank the horseflies bit me several times. Donnie Scott picked up his horse at 6:30. July 18, about 6:00 this afternoon Michael and Bret were looking for some matches to burn trash and found some blanks for a starting pistol. Eleven year old Bret got my small automatic pistol and put a blank in it. Went out on the porch and pulled the hammer back to shoot it. About that time he saw his mama coming up the driveway so he went back inside. The hammer was still back and it went off. There is cotton type wadding in those shells and it buried up inside his finger. To Sulphur Springs emergency room. They worked on it for forty five minutes. Big shot of penicillin. Long needle.
Now up to the present. November 26-27 Venus and Jupiter team up in the southeast at first light. November 28 there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon.
A man went into his boss’s office and said three companies were after him and in order to stay he needed a raise. The boss finally agreed to a five percent raise then asked the man who the three companies were and got the answer, “The electric company, the water company, and the phone company.”