Thursday, February 24, 2011

Football Fan Becomes Herbicidal Fanatic

When it comes to the mail and the Washington Post, I’m “Jack Sprat could eat no fat” and Ellen is “his wife could eat no lean,” and it all works out perfectly.

When we sort the mail, Ellen gets Sports Illustrated magazine, which she’s read weekly for about 40 years. I get Fine Gardening magazine, which I’ve read for nearly 10 years.

When we divvy up the daily Washington Post newspaper, I get A-Section (international & national), Business, Editorial Pages, Health & Science, Local Living, Metro, Real Estate, and the Washington Post Magazine. Ellen gets the Sports section.

You may be able to impress me with your sports knowledge, but you can’t impress her, I guarantee you.

It was a bit of shock Tuesday evening when she called from her rocker, “Did you see the story in the Sports section about the Alabama football fan who poisoned Auburn’s 130-year-old oak trees?”

I hadn’t the slightest idea what she was talking about. Remember—the Sports section is Ellen’s turf. I cannot imagine poisoning an historic oak tree, but a sports fan—well, football is very serious business in Alabama, and “fan” is short for “fanatic.”

Ellen passed the Sports section on to me after she was finished with it. Sure enough, Tracee Hamilton, a Post columnist reported that a fan of University of Alabama football, angry that Auburn beat Alabama in their annual Iron Bowl contest last November, dowsed the roots of two ancient live oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, traditional site of Auburn’s victory celebrations, with herbicide.

The herbicidal fanatic demonstrated his brilliance by calling a radio call-in program to brag about his misdeed.

The alleged perpetrator, 62 years of age, has been arrested and charged with “criminal mischief.” Horticulturists, agronomists, and engineers spent several days trying to remove the poisoned soil, though experts say there is about a 1% change the oaks will survive. And sane sports fans already have donated nearly $100,000 to help save or replace the trees—including nearly $40,000 by the 99.999% of Alabama fans who don’t have “issues.”

If, as expected, the trees die, I suggest they be salvaged and the lumber made into appropriate Auburn souvenirs.

First should be a gavel to be presented to the presiding judge to call the court to order at the perpetrator’s trial. Instead of throwing the proverbial “book” at the perpetrator, the judge could, well, throw the gavel. Athletic and other student awards could be attached to finely finished boards made from the larger limbs of the oaks.

And the leftovers? They’d make fine oak flooring for Auburn basketball courts.

Hey, basketball fans, take off your shoes. You’re walking on sacred wood.


  1. Okay, this freak-of-nature person who tried to seek sick personal vendetta by killing a tree, then telling on himself... is INSANE, and not representative, in any way, of the state of Alabama or the University. He is not even a graduate. He is surely mentally deranged, just like to shooter in Tucson, AZ.

    Oh. Think of the publicity (negative, of course) for the state and both schools though, and now a chance comes to turn a beautiful tree into cash. Thanks to greed, the tree most likely will not live, for if any limbs refuse to produce foliage they'll be pruned back, turned into souvenirs and sold.

    And the world will continue to mock... the South, specifically Alabama.
    You know, it's not what happens to a person, but how one reacts to what happens that shows character. Alabamians are disgusted with the whole issue, and especially that this insane crime offers another opportunity for finger pointing.

    Oh well. I suppose the whole sordid scenerio of a poisoned tree takes our minds from reality of the Mideast war we fight, dirty politics, violence and other more important issues.

  2. The news reports and columns that I've read don't mock or finger-point at Alabama, Gladys. Many are sports-oriented and say the event may have a positive effect on the fringes that lurk on the Alabama-Auburn rivalry. Many are focusing on the huge amount of donations that are pouring in to save or replace the trees. And all point out that this one guy is an idiot. So Alabama is home to one insane idiot, Gladys. I suppose Maryland is Alabama's equal in that category, as is every other state.

  3. Oh, I surely over react when it comes to negative press, maybe because our state has had its share, and justifiably so. I should have taken a deep breath and counted to ten.

    Now, hopefully, with this guy being treated as a criminal, any other nuts out there will take notice before behaving so irrationally.

    Oh, I hope the tree lives in spite of all this hype. I don't know how much weed killer it would take to kill something with roots reaching 100 feet deep most likely, when I can't even get Round Up to kill dandelions. Go figure.