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The Chapman clan goes hunting ... sort of
Today the woodsman in me comes out as it's time to get the Christmas tree into the Chapman household somewhere on West 11th Street. It used to be quite a sporting event for the entire family.
I take you back to days of yesteryear when the Chapmans had four boys at home and finding the Christmas tree was one of the highlights, or lowlights, of the season.
You see, Mrs. Chapman likes trees that can be flocked, so the entire clan used to get into the trusty station wagon, hook up a trailer with big sides and head for the Baskins Ranch on Black Diamond Road. It always was great fun as one or two of the boys never wanted to go and the others just wanted to play in the snow. Guess who did most of the picking and choosing and guess who had to cut the tree down?
The hunt for the "perfect" tree sometimes took more than an hour, sometimes trudging knee deep in fresh snow. "Let's put a mark on this one," Mrs. C would say ..." and keep looking ...." The white fir was the preferred species, but the traditional tree worked OK. Each tree was viewed from front, side and back. Trees with a good front and sides - and if it would fit into a corner - made the preferred list.
Once the "right" tree was found, out came the miniature Swede saw and Mr. Chapman always became snow covered and wet cutting the tree down, then it took five of us to haul it to the road, load the trailer and return home.
One time we arrived home and the tree was gone. It must have hopped out of the trailer on the way down the mountain. A quick trip back up to the ranch resulted in nothing. The tree vanished.
One year we got home, lugged the tree from the alley to the front of the house, somehow squeezed it into the front room and the branches were so large the tree took up half the room. The tree had to be secured by heavy wire to the wall once it was set up
Then, of course, I remember the flocking days. A green tree had to be turned snow white. I recall those flocking guns and bags of flock that required a vacuum cleaner that blew out instead of sucking up. Many a bag was ruined in the rain and snow in the backyard trying to cover the tree. Sometimes it took almost a half case of holiday cheer to complete the project and most of the time I received the look ... and ... "Oh, it's OK ...."
Then, alas, most of the flock came off the tree when trying to hustle it from backyard to front yard and into house.
Thank goodness the days of yesteryear are gone! No more searching for just the right size tree, no more hiking in mud and snow. The boys are long gone and the tree hunting takes about 20 minutes to walk from the radio station across the street to Gross's (I received no kickback for the name, folks) and pick out a 5-foot noble fir and have it flocked by their expert crew.
Not only that, they deliver the tree, bring it inside and set it up so it stands straight. Sure, it costs a little more than going into the woods for a tree, but the wear and tear on the old man is much less and the holiday cheer tastes even better going down.