LETTER- Tree chopping in McGuffey-ville

I'm sure your May 30 breaking-news item, "Trees topple in, around, McGuffey Park," triggered memories for many. Mine go back 50 years.

In 1957, I got my start in public discourse as a fourth-grader at McGuffey School. The cause was a huge mulberry tree in the center of the plain-dirt play area just behind the building. Because one limb branched low and extended almost horizontally, that tree provided not only lovely shade but a long comfy bench that doubled as a natural jungle-gym.

But school officials thought the playground needed improvement and modernization. They would cut down the tree, we were told, then pave where it stood and paint on a basketball court.

In response, I started a petition, one that borrowed a line from poet Joyce Kilmer: "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree. We want to keep ours." I collected several pages of fellow students' signatures. Teachers told me what a fine thing I was doing.

Officials cut down the tree and paved the playground.

Such history should not repeat. Charlottesville has never needed shade more than it does now. It has never had so little.

Antoinette W. Roades