The Old Live Oak, Wilmington, NC

The Old Live Oak Wilmington NC pc1The Old Live Oak Wilmington NC pc2

“From Lucylle Cale. Camden, N. J.”

Lucy/Lucille/Lucylle Cale and Cole was researched, and though there are both Cales and Coles in Camden, only Lucy Cole shows up in a 1943 Camden city directory.

I’ve had this postcard for a couple of years, didn’t get to posting it last Christmas, and was so sad to find out that this tree had been cut down just last month. It stood next to the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant and for decades was known as the World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree. An August 2015 online article reported that the Wilmington City Council voted in 2012 to end the tree lighting tradition, siting safety concerns, and the health of the tree, said to have been struggling for years.

StarNewsonline shows a photo from the first tree-lighting event, which was Christmas Eve 1928.

So, I have two of these postcards, and was looking for the other this morning, trying to remember if there was a date on the back of that one. Running short on time and wanted to get this one up, so will look later. But in looking up the publisher info – the photographer was the well-known Hugh Morton (1921 – 2006). Wow, this guy accomplished a lot during his lifetime – photographer, conservationist, etc….Surprisingly, no other postcards of this Live Oak are currently showing up on the internet, but I would say the card is probably from the 1950s or early 1960s. The description reads:

“World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree. Wilmington, North Carolina. This three hundred year old Live Oak is lighted with 4,000 multi-colored bulbs, and is viewed each December by a quarter of a million persons. Its limb spread is 110 feet and height 55 feet.”

300 years old per the postcard or quite a bit older – between 400 and 450 years (from the StarNews report) and earlier in it’s lifetime estimated to have been 70 to 75 feet in height, but ending up at about 55 feet due to the effects of years of ice storms.

On the subject of living Christmas trees, I’ll never forget the little Italian Stone Pine my mother-in-law gave us one year. The kind of tree you find at the drugstore, that often gets thrown out after Christmas (shudder). We had no place to plant it at that time, and there it was, about two feet tall, if that. Somehow it survived my non-diligent watering until we moved that summer to a place with a backyard. I planted it near a corner and named it Giovanni. We were only in that house for about seven years, but every time I’m in the area I drive by to see my old friend, which is huge and beautiful and thriving, and would now be about twenty-three years old. I thank God I didn’t toss out that scruffy little sapling, and most of all I bless the people in that house forever for taking such good care of my tree.

Divided back, unused with writing, postcard. Circa 1950s – early 1960s. Publisher information:  Published by Hugh Morton, Wilmington, NC; Plastichrome Colourpicture Publishers, Inc. Boston, Mass. Series or number:  P26400.

Price:  $15.00

Sources:  “World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree To Be Cut Down ‘Soon.’ ”, August 31, 2015. Web accessed December 22, 2015.

Blevins, Ken. “#TBT – World’s Largest Living Christmas Tree.” StarNewsonline, December 17, 2015. Web accessed December 22, 2015.

Hugh Morton. n.d. (accessed December 21, 2015).