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The Crab Apple Tree

Updated on September 12, 2013

The Crab Apple Tree and The Castle Ruins

It's amazing how mundane things in children's minds can become fantastic things. How burnt remnants of a building can become ancient ruins and an old crab apple tree can become a mystical symbol. How the parameters of a block becomes your world and crossing the street by yourself is an important rite of passage that leads you to uncharted territories.

The Neighborhood Ruins

In a park near where I live one of the trees is a crab apple tree. There is a bench near the tree and when I do my walking I some times see very interesting people sitting by this tree. I myself sit and rest on that bench and I think about when I was very young in the old neighborhood in the Bronx New York. There was a not so vacant lot nearby that was different than any other lot in the area. Granted, nowadays in the area most of the lots are built on. Most lots then were relatively vacant but this was not. The history of this lot was murky to us. In this lot were ruins. Yes ruins, years before a building caught on fire and the remainder was just left as it was. All that was left was the blackened stone and mortar surrounded by empty land and a large granite rock which gave it an ancient look.

Of course the story was told that it was a castle before it burned down and the the previous owner had buried treasure there. It really didn't seem to be a part of our modern world but a relic from some bygone era which gave rise to a lot of fanciful tales. The stories changed with the teller in the tradition of the old troubadours. According to these young story tellers the spirit of the previous owner walked through the ruins at night. Another story was that the castle was going to be rebuilt soon.

The lot and large rock was used by the neighborhood kids for all types of games from snow ball fights to tag. Of course we really weren't supposed to be climbing all over them but every one did.

The Crab Apple Tree

Near the ruins of the castle was a crab apple tree. The tree was said to be surrounded by poison ivy so in the spring, summer and fall you were not supposed to get near it. This ring of poison ivy took on a magical aspect far more mystical than just some itchy leaves. It kept kids at a distance until the winter when you could get near it. We often stood a distance looking at it, daring each other to go near it. It was a pretty tree blossoming in the spring and then growing apples. No one pruned or otherwise took care of it yet it thrived.

One reason we played in this vacant lot was because you didn't have to cross any streets to get there. The younger kids didn't have to ask any older kids to cross them. (escort them safely across the street) I still played by the ruins but then was given permission officially by my mother to be able to go further off. I of course got the instructions to get back when the street lights come on. But my mother acted like she didn't understand each light came on at a different time so this really meant get back early enough that no street lights are on.

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Poison Ivy

Leaves of Three Let It Be

One hot day a friend and I were bored. We really couldn't find any other kids around and of course we gravitated to the lot and the crab apple tree. It was summer so of course the tree was surrounded. After very little discussion we finally found something to do. That was to run through the poison ivy jumping in and out. We were seen by neighbors and told to go home and were snatched up in our houses. Slathered with calamine lotion and whatever and then banished to our respective stoops. In those days kids did not stay indoors during daylight hours in the summer. I never felt any itching from that foray and neither did my friend.

So What Do You Think?

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      8 years ago

      we had a crab apple tree next to our front door when i grew up. i found a little comfort in seeing that tree. it was a part of home. many years later i revisited the home and found it abandoned, destroyed, with all the trees gone. i have an empty space for the house and the tree

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have a special fondness for crabapple trees. I used to help my mother make crabapple jelly.


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