Monday, August 20, 2007

Historic Oaks

There are oak trees in Europe with incredible histories: the Guernica oak, or the 800-year-old Gillotin Oak in France come to mind.

Who knew we had an arbol icon in our own (literally) back yard?

Per Jerry Crowe's Crowe's Nest column in the L.A. Times, Germany awarded every gold medallist in the 1936 Olympics a year-old oak seedling, and Americans took home 24 of those.

Jesse Owens, the star of the Olympics, planted his in Cleveland.

And Cornelius Johnson of Los Angeles, who won the high jump gold medal, planted the oak in the backyard of the small corner house where he grew up, which is now in Koreatown. From the look of the picture in the Times, the sprawling tree has been well-cared for.

This link is to a copy of Johnson's biography in American National Biography (Oxford Press).

(there is another Olympic tree at USC, brought home by a discus gold medalist, Ken Carpenter. )

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