by Paul Mckinney
There was an old apple tree that stood in the empty field at the corner of Porter and North Seventh streets. It grew silently there guarding the pathway that led to the abandoned playground at the end of Manhattan Avenue.
Someone told us it was a crab apple tree. It made everyone smile as we said the words: crab apple tree. “How can a tree be “crabby?” we would all laugh.
But the name stuck and the old crab apple tree became a gathering place for us kids when we were going to plan a game or go on a hike together. “We’ll all meet at the crab apple tree, after supper,” someone would shout.
And those that could would congregate around the tree at 5:30. No need to explain anything more. Most of our families ate “supper” at 5 p.m. sharp back then. We had enough time to gulp down our food and get to the tree for that 5:30 meet up.
Even today I can picture that crotchety old tree in my mind. It was broader than it was tall. Its lanky branches stretched way out from its center and touched the ground all around. The tangled black trunk was full of deep crotches that were perfect to sit in while waiting for the group of friends to form.
That old crab apple tree became more than just a tree. It was a symbol for us kids; a meeting point any season of the year that everyone understood.
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