I, for one, recall the chestnut year as it was about 1932 – 1933. My family, included mother and dad, with 4 children. I was born May 24, 1928. As I recall there were 2 seasons that included fruit from trees in Mississippi. I have recalled those happy times as 2 Christmas when our grandfather and grandmother truly did roast the chestnuts on an open fireplace. I can taste them now! Just the same, we shared only a few at one time. We did not individually have one dozen or more.
The two of us did visit at least 2 trees, only after grandfather had picked up what had fallen. Of course, we hustled to find a burr that had popped, somewhat spread out, having fallen from the tree, only to pick up the 3 nuts per burr. We knew better than walk near the tree without shoes on. The prick from the burr caused severe pain to step on one of the burrs accidently.
Our grandfather had 5 large trees, but were scattered apart, though we could see all 5 trees from where we stood. I recall the sheep, old & new, scrabbling for the hulled out nuts. I do not recall staying under the tree for too long period of time. One good prick of the hands was cause for the short visit. Naturally, the two of us went home to mother for help of pulling some of the prickely needles out of our fingers.
That was the last year I recall for the fruit. The next year there were none. These majestic trees had been hit by the blight. Seemingly I recall only the whiteness of the trees scattered about that time. As a 4 – 5 year old boy, did not know what the word blight was all about. My mind tells me the trees were barren and looked ghostly like among the green trees and grass each following year.
My family of 5 at that time moved from Grand Paw Cox's house to a community not too far away, but no more of the chestnut trees. I am grateful for the memories at Grand Paw Cox's farm and the big spread of chestnut trees.
What I have just recalled has always stayed with me to this day. I will be 85 years old on May 24, 2012.
As an added note, I am so greatful for those men who work to reestablish the ancient chestnut tree in bearing the 3 small nuts that had such favorable taste – enough to last a life time. Seems there weren't any bad nuts, only 3 good tasty ones.
In closing I will say, my memories came from North East, Mississippi. We lived about 45 miles from the TN and AL lines.
Also, I visited the area of Pa Cox's farm, which I could see as far as my eyes could tell. It may have been 30 acres, or a 100, for that matter. I believe the acreage will be about the same today. I met the most recent owner in August 2010.
I would be mighty greatful to learn that I might experience seeing some 50 to 100 plantings. As I recall on that last visit, there is a cleared area in front of Grand Pa Cox's place where experimented seedlings might be set to grow.
Wouldn't that be the greatest thing to happen and see before I die, say the year 2020, circa. Wow, I am ready to show someone where that place is located in Mississippi, the place where 5 huge and beautiful chestnuts might possibly grow and thrive again.
I must wake up now. It was a trip well remembered. Thank you for the time to recall and value the chestnut trees at the place I lived!
P.S. A copy of your reply as continued hope for the Appalachia / Mississippi chestnut (as it was once was).
William H. Cox
5801 Stewarts Ferry Rd.
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122