Dogwood trees are in memoriam

Richard DuPertuis
Mount Shasta resident Connie Marmet, right, steadies Jacqueline Parker's first place prize tulip so that her friend Alice Mortensen can see the intricate patterns inside. The Dunsmuir Garden Club's annual Dogwood Daze flower show drew a lighter crowd than usual this rainy Saturday, but the specimens displayed were as dazzling as ever. Best of Show went to Parker for her pink tulip. The People's Choice Award in the Flower Show went to Gaye Collins for her arrangement of clematis and candy tufts, and the People's Choice Award in the Art Show went to Diana Harryman for “Dogwood in Black and White.”

A couple of years ago, Cindy Foreman lost her mother. Still grieving, the then-owner of the Brown Trout looked out the window of the cafe where she had sat with Mary Kingsford many times, and she recalled the elder woman's words.

“You need some flowers over there.”

Over there, where Foreman looked across the street, was a strip of parched, weed-choked land bordering the Union Pacific parking lot. An idea came to her to plant a tree, a flowering tree in that spot along with three more, each tree representing her mom and dad and her husband Len's parents.

Each of those trees would be a dogwood, the official tree of Dunsmuir.

Foreman shared her idea with her friends. Then-Window Box Nursery owner Cheryl Petty said that she could get a good deal on the trees. Linda Price, owner of the Boxcar Gallery, loved the idea. Then-Chamber president Barbara Cross did too, but she wanted something a little bigger.

Said Cross, “Let's do lots of trees. Everyone's going to want to do this.”

The four women formed the Dunsmuir Dogwood Committee. They spread word of their plans and found that many, indeed, wanted to do this. Money came in, $50 each, to fund the planting of nearly fifty trees in memoriam, labeled and numbered by graphic artist Price.

Foreman said that her father and both of Len's parents are still alive, but she knew these trees would outlast them. She told her 90-year-old father, “Don't be offended, I know you're still alive, but someday this tree will stand in your memory.”

Today, 32 dogwood trees standing in memory, and in anticipation of inevitable memory, line Sacramento Avenue, four more color Children's Park, and a dozen adorn Hedge Creek Falls Park. Union Pacific gave permission to use the land. The city also contributed, and city worker Carl Morzenti especially pitched in, planting each tree after consulting with Petty on irrigation needs.

Not long after, the four women came up with the idea of Dogwood Daze, a townwide festival to bring in tourists. They linked it to the lines of memorial dogwoods because of the name, and they chose the existing holiday most likely to witness the trees in blossom, Memorial Day.

This Memorial Day Saturday, with most of the town's dogwoods still in bloom, hundreds of tourists were reported visiting town, despite cool wind and scattered showers. The Pie Social sold out before 3 p.m, shoppers mobbed the Boxcar and new Sacramento Avenue gift store First Stop Dunsmuir along with our video store, Glass Garden Gifts, said they saw a marked increase in business.

This past Saturday also witnessed lines of American flags, lines of red, white and blue billowing in an unseasonably cold breeze. Erected by the Dunsmuir Lion's Club, the banners honored the traditional observance of soldiers fallen in the line of duty.

Foreman said that her pursuit of personal memorial coincided with the national holiday. “I don't remember any of us discussing it at all,” she said. She said that she was more interested in honoring the memory of loved ones fallen from all causes, those in the past and those to come.

The demand for more memorial dogwood trees may launch another project of purchases and plantings. “I've heard from 55 more people who want trees,” said Foreman. “Eventually, I see our whole town filled with dogwoods.”

If Foreman fulfills her vision, we may someday see row upon row of flowering dogwoods all over Dunsmuir, each numbered and labeled with the names of past loved ones, and with names of loved ones still here to cherish, but certain to be remembered some breezy, spring day.

LeeAnn McConnell serves up a slice to local Anna Mulvaney at the Pie Social at the Dunsmuir Depot on Saturday, Dogwood Daze. This annual railroad museum fundraiser usually sells out of its tasty treats so fast they advertise it as "10 o’clock until gone." This year 128 pies went up for sale and, as expected, before 3 p.m. they were all gone.