words by ethel & paul

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Saving Trees

We came home one day in the early seventies to see a big “X” painted on our large Ash--a street tree in the landscape strip. We had been alert to the re-building of 8th South Street, a high-crowned road built for oxen travel. It was blue-printed to be widened, flattened out, and re-surfaced for heavy travel. To make sure, we looked along the street. Yes, tree slaughter was scheduled.

I had written a piece of verse about our wide-winged tree. I grabbed a copy of that, and Paul and I rushed down to the office of Commissioner Steve Harmsen, whom we had met but that’s about all.

We argued that the street would be wide enough even leaving the traditional wide street landscape strip. (Traditional on other streets.)

The next morning, at four a.m., friend LaPriel James, Paul, and I (Ethel) took crepe paper--black, white and some red and a means I can’t remember, of indicating a threat--a skull and crossbones effect. We “banded” the street trees from Third East Street to Eleventh East Street--or maybe we stopped at Ninth.

Paul was interviewed by KSL Television (Channel Five) and appeared on TV beside our big Ash. On 8th South, from State Street to Thirteenth East, the old trees were saved. We suspect the bare 8th South street west of Main once had big trees like ours, but if so, nobody cared. Certainly, Salt Lake City government has not cared about protecting trees.

Ethel C. Hale & W. Paul Wharton