The main purpose of this web site is to recreate (preserve) the once vibrant community of Cherry Tree where we grew up. It was a comfortable, nurturing environment where neighbors looked out for each other.
Remember the gray school with the white trim; the oiled floors swept with sawdust; the water fountain in the center of the foyer-boys bathroom on left, girls on right; candy sales from Sally Gore’s cloakroom, the little curtains at the bottom of the tall windows, prints of “Little Boy Blue” & “Pinky” in Mrs. Von Péchys’ room? ( I recently saw the originals at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA).
The two room Cherry Tree School and the Pilgrim Holiness Church had great influence on that little community. It was a busy place with 4 grocery stores, three gas stations, a large bakery, donut shop, bottling company, body shop and various other businesses.
The character of the community began to change when the new boulevard took one complete row of houses and the two room school along Island Creek. When Cherry Tree School was torn down the community began it’s decline. The new road also added to reoccurring floods. Those two issues along with a struggling economy lead to the demise of that one vibrant community. As you browse through the Cherry Tree Gallery of pictures and look at the backgrounds, you will notice some familiar homes and businesses that no longer exist. They bring up many memories for me. I’d welcome more pictures of cherry Tree as it existed in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Be sure to check out the old Guestbook for entries from people you may know who have Cherry Tree roots. (These entries were from my old cherry Tree web site.) Don’t overlook the picture galleries of Cherry Tree and The Pilgrim Holiness Church as well as Mt. Gay School. My special thanks to Frank Thompson who has helped me get this new site up and running. His site covers Whites Addition. Growing up aross the creek in Whites Addition and attendng Cherry Tree School, he also shares an interest in Cherry Tree. You may contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 760 320 6272
Introduction by Paul Dyer
It seems that as we grow older, we inevitably come to the realization that there really is a limit to the number of days we have to exist upon this world. And it seems that with that realization come remembrances of things past, people and places that we once loved and were a part of. Time, that abominable thief of memories, stops for no one and, as we age, purloins more and more of our essence. Our thoughts turn ever increasingly toward home.
Home is more than a place to lay your head or hang your hat. Home exists in the here and the now: this place where we live our lives day by day but home also exists in the past. Those of us who are not native to our present “home” sometimes cannot understand the ambivalence of those around us who are “home”. It has been said that a West Virginian will always be a West Virginian, no matter which part of this world they may find themselves. The strong attraction to those hills and hollows will always have an irresistible pull towards home with its sweet memories of what once was.
Home to me is that certain someplace where I was raised: the little community of Cherry Tree, a place that, if suburbs existed at that time, would have been considered a suburb of Logan, West Virginia. It’s a place where, during the summer, the sun does not peep over the eastern rim of “the mountain” until around nine o’clock. It is a place where you never really see a sunset unless you can climb the nearest mountain to witness the grand spectacle that is spread out before you as the sun goes down behind the western ramparts of “the mountain” well before darkness creeps in and softly covers the mountains that surround you with a star-studded, soft, velvet spread.
But children never pay much attention to the rising or setting of the sun and during the summer vacation from school, time never meant a whole lot to us; we were blessed with the assumption that those halcyon days would never end and that each new day would bring a new challenge or surprise. We arose when we wanted, we ate when we wanted and we went to bed when we wanted. My parents expected certain attitudes and behavior from me in exchange for the latitude they granted me but it truly was a small price to pay for the total freedom that I experienced as a child.
Cherry Tree was an ideal environment for boys to grow in –sometimes on the banks of Island Creek and sometimes under Island Creek. Cherry Tree nevertheless provided myriad havens of opportunities for adventurous small boys. There was always “the creek” and “the mountain”. Can you imagine a place without fences? Can you envision a place where there were no man-made obstacles, only those created by nature and we never considered those to be obstacles, only challenges? If we could not go over it, we would go around it and if you could not go around it or over it, chances were that you were not supposed to be there anyway.
There was what was called a tram road some distance up the side of the mountain that fronted Cherry Tree. I should explain that a tram road was cut into the mountain side where a seam of coal was located. Then huge boring machines would arrive to drill huge tunnels into the coal seam. We were never quite brave enough to find out how long those tunnels were. It’s the place where boys could and would climb large beech trees and gorge themselves on the small beechnuts the trees would provide so abundantly. At the end of the tram road, various paths branched off towards raspberry and blackberry patches where we boys, and sometimes girls, would go to pick the wild berries to take home for our mothers who would serve up those wonderful blackberry cobblers. I recall a forsaken apple orchard on the mountain that also served us well. Then too, dark “hollers” provided us with the renowned paw-paw trees which were not really trees like the magnificent oaks, poplars and beeches but more like overgrown bushes that provided a succulent treat after being sweetened by the first few frosts of approaching winter.
Progress they say is wonderful and that may well be true but sometimes progress has a fearful price to pay. On a visit back to Cherry Tree with my sisters, Phyllis and Elsie, several years ago, I was staggered by the changes that had been wrought to the little community. The Island Creek that figured so prominently in my childhood, a stream that I recall was wide enough to float boats and car tops in was no more but had become a mere brook that a person could very nearly just step over. I can remember actual creek banks that were sandy and a creek large enough to swim in and catch fish out of. The changes were so dramatic that, on the same visit as we crossed the mountain on a super highway through Mt. Gay we arrived at a stop sign where my sister Phyllis asked, “Where are we?” And I replied, “This was Fisher Bottom and you were raised just over that bridge ahead of us; that was Cherry Tree!”
Needless to say, most of the little community was simply gone. In its stead were mining equipment shops and such. What few houses remained looked absolutely ancient. The alleys and byways we children traversed to the little two-room school house were no more. The Fisher Bottom previously mentioned, across the creek from Cherry Tree, of course ceased to exist in the early sixties when the “boulevard” was pushed through and road construction was, by its very nature the major reason why the place I grew up, the place that I call “home”, exists only in my memories. No, you can’t really go home again. Things change, people change and we ourselves change; only in memory can we return once again to what we once were.