Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

July 11, 2012

Townsfolk mourn passing of John Updike's pet elm tree

IPSWICH, Mass. - A crowd gathered in this small New England town this week to mourn a tree.

The stately American elm has stood at the corner of East and County streets for more than two centuries, a part of the lives of generations of local folk, including the late author John Updike, who lived across the street from the tree and popularized it in poems and stories.

Five-score people attended the ceremony to mark its passing to Dutch elm disease. They offered stories, prayers, songs and odes.

Michael and David Updike, sons of the author, read excerpts from his poems and stories about the American elm, "this great, airy whoosh of the leaves being swept back and forth" in the summer breeze.

The tree, towering over nearby Colonial-era homes, was cut down and removed Wednesday.

"I've been in love with this tree, just like everyone else," said Janet Craft of the Ipswich Garden Society, which organized the memorial service. "This elm enriched our lives with its beauty."

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Details for this story were provided by the Salem, Mass., News.

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