A tree with a connection to a lifelong Conway resident is about to be cut down after 76 years of growth. The tree, planted by an 11-year-old Dr. Robert Clark in 1945 at his childhood home at 624 Donaghey Ave., is set to be cut down to make way for the widening of Donaghey Avenue. In a recent interview with the Log Cabin, Clark reminisced on the tree and his life in Conway.
Clark said the decision to plant a tree in his front yard came to him unexpectedly. Citing the freedom children in 1945 had to play unsupervised, Clark said he found the tree he wanted to plant in his front yard in a wooded area at the modern intersection of Western Avenue and Robinson Street that he and his friends called “The Grove.” A hideout of sorts, Clark said the grove was a common play area for neighborhood children in 1945.
At that time a one-and-a-half foot sapling, Clark transplanted the tree about a block-and-a-half to his front yard on Donaghey Avenue, the same block he was born on in 1934. While working to dig the hole, Clark said his father came out of the house and helped him to dig a large hole that would fit the young tree and allow it to grow.
“Parents didn’t care if [their children] dug holes in the front yard back then,” Clark said with a laugh.
Seventy-six years, and a life of experiences later, Clark’s tree is still growing in the lot he grew up in. Now about five feet wide around its base, Clark’s tree has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings as a sapling about as wide as a pencil.
And the 11-year-old Clark has grown up too. A surgeon, Clark practiced most of his career in Conway and lived on Donaghey Avenue until he went to medical school.
Now 87 years old and retired and living in Conway, Clark said he understands the need to cut the tree down, but can’t help but feel saddened.
“Nothing else I make [in the future] will last 75 years,” Clark said.
Clark, however, is hopeful to get a thin slice of the base of the tree when workers cut it down. He plans to count the rings and mark some of the most important events in his life.
While one lifelong Conway resident’s journey will end soon after it is cut down, Clark’s will go on with at least a little piece of the tree he’s watched grow up alongside him.