Feeding the Tree – just one of many childhood embarrassments


Every kid growing up in the Prytania alley had at least one embarrassing moment, one of those that the other kids talk and laugh about for years and one that we all can recall with vivid memory recall…everyone.  Did you ever watch the movie, A Christmas Story?  if so, then you recall the moment that Flick got his tongue stuck on the flagpole.  This is the story of one such event for Tari. 

I’m not sure what game or activity Tari was involved in that day -either a running game or perhaps a hiding game…..but it came to a screeching halt when we heard her sister Donna shouting for someone to come and help.  You see, in the back of Tari’s yard was a large tree that had grown up very close to the next door neighbor’s garage.  If I remember correctly, it was a very large hedge apple tree, (or to those of you who prefer, the osage orange).

The tree’s base had probably been sufficiently far away from the garage when it was just a twig, but as it grew older, it expanded to be broad enough such that it left only a small space between itself and the garage.  Well Tari had made the mistake of either trying to hide behind it or squeezing between it and the garage.  She had lost her footing such that she fell forward and in the process of falling, had gotten herself wedged.  There must have been 6-8 of us that day playing basketball just a house down the alley.  We all came walking over to see what was going on.

It was impossible not to find humor in the situation.  For a little girl though who was the brunt of the joke with several older kids having a good laugh, I’m sure it wasn’t that much fun at the time.  I’ve mentioned the oldest boy in our hang-out age group, Randy.  Randy was Tari’s older brother and well, as older brothers will, he of course found the most humor in the situation.  He started teasing and poking general fun, mainly to make the rest of us laugh.

None of us were large or strong enough to lift her up and out – she was wedged in there pretty good.  Tari & Randy’s dad, (big Russ), had to come out to get the job done.  A moment about big Russ – we kids of course didn’t know much about most of the parents.  Russ was generally soft spoken, but when Russ spoke, the kids listened.  I had spoken to Russ maybe a handful of times, and always when I was with Randy and in his home.  I knew this though – if ever Russ stuck his head out the door and started a count for Randy to come running home, Pic (Randy) would break sprinting records to get there!

So there we were…Tari embarrassed and stuck, Randy cracking jokes to make us laugh and big Russ assessing the situation, while warning Randy he’d better knock it off.  Well, Russ was able to lift his little girl up easily enough to slide her out of her predicament, but the temptation to toss out one more one-liner was too much for Randy to resist.  As Russ was walking Tari back to the house, Randy remarked – “thank God…I thought I was going to have to feed the tree for the rest of my life”.  We all cracked up…all except for Russ.

“Randy!  In the house!”  We never saw Randy for the rest of the day.  No one ever again tried to squeeze behind the hedge apple tree and no one messed with big Russ.

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