NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 4, 2013

Uprooting memories

Dogtown native saddened by loss of honey locust in Byfield Center

(Continued)

In addition to recommending the reconfiguration of the intersections, the audit suggested ways to calm traffic in certain areas and make other types of improvements, Taylor said.

But the loss of the memorial tree isn’t sitting well with Davis, who said he was “devastated” to learn it was gone, especially given that the intersection where it was planted has a long relationship with iconic trees in town.

Prior to the arrival of the honey locust, a maple tree had stood for years in the same spot. The maple was planted by an earlier group of Sunday School students from the Byfield Methodist church. The maple became known as the Moody Street Tree and grew into a familiar and cherished landmark.

It was under the Moody Street Tree that Byfield children, including Davis, gathered every weekday morning to wait for the school bus. Back then, the Byfield section of Newbury was known as Dogtown because it was one of few places locally without a leash law, so dogs were free to romp around, Davis said.

As Davis remembers it, all the Dogtown kids climbed that maple tree “until they wore it out.” He admitted that sometimes he and his pals scrambled high enough up the tree that the bus driver couldn’t see them and drove on past to the delight of the youngsters, who then enjoyed an impromptu holiday from classes.

Eventually, when it became diseased, the Moody Street Tree was replaced by the honey locust.

Davis now is looking to right the wrong and has found a local landscaping company to donate a new tree — a red maple — to be planted at the same site. He would invite everyone who attended the original tree planting in 1990 back for the replanting ceremony. And this time around, he’ll include a plaque to serve as a reminder that the tree is a memorial landmark. He plans to contact selectmen soon about his idea and, if necessary, will organize a citizens’ petition drive to see his plan through.

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