Coffee Share 210610: A Legacy Stump

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest. This week I recall part of the legacy of a stump, yes, a redwood stump out at OFRC near Guerneville, California on the Russian River. Enjoy!
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

20210610_170308 cropped“Hello.  Are you Mr. Wilson?”

“I am.  What can I do for you?”

“I’ve been assigned to your team today. I’m not sure what I’m doing but the lady in charge said you’d tell me what we’re working on.  This is the first time I’ve ever done one of these work days, so please tell me how to do this right.  I’m helping my grandpa because he can’t work much anymore.”

“Ah, old age.  Yea, I’ve heard that it’s going around and there’s no vaccine in sight.”

“Ha, well I’m only 22 so if you need a strong back, I’m your guy for the day.”

“Excellent! Grab your donut and coffee and let’s go meet the rest of the team.”

In 1928-29, my great grandparents; my mother’s mother’s parents bought into a club of sorts.  A local group of Odd Fellows.  I know, it’s a strange name but you can look them up and you’ll find this introduction:

“The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal order of Odd Fellowship. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, United States.”

Anyway, as a group they focus on helping improve their local communities in several ways. Just over 200 years later, they’re still around but not well known. Back in 1928 a local group of Odd Fellows and their families bought a large track of land from a lumber company. This land included some steep mountain roads through a thick redwood and bay tree forest but the best part was the northern edge of the property which was all beachfront,  right on the Russian River in Sonoma County.

The way the club worked was members would buy or build a cabin up along those steep roads. They would not own the land as the club would retain it but all the things on the overall property would be maintained and run by the members.  Some chose to live in those cabins while others preferred to come just for visits.

Some buildings were built, a store, a small restaurant, a teen center, a stage and club house with a large kitchen, all within an easy walk to the beach.

Smaller cabins remained from when the lumberjacks lived on the property and these cabins were fitted with what was needed to turn them into rentals and before long, the property became a destination for friends and family over the summer.

Today, Odd Fellows Recreation Club (OFRC) remains a private club that prides itself on being a place which welcomes and cherishes our children, makes amazing memories with great friends all in an outdoors, one or two steps up from camping.  We go there to enjoy the outdoors, bocce ball, tennis, walking mountain roads while breathing some of the cleanest and most oxygen-rich air on the planet.

We pay an annual dues, some times special assessments to fix roads or water tanks and for 6 days per member per year, we work on the common areas to improve them for both our selves and our renter-guests.

“So, what’s your name?”

“I’m Case. What are we working on? Please tell me we’re not painting.”

“Oh no. I don’t do painting anymore. Been there, painted many of these buildings at one time or another so, no. We’re driving a dump truck today.  We call it the brush truck. The winters can be hard on the park and we have lots of teams already out there making piles of branches and leaves that we load up and dump on the the burn pile – except we really don’t burn it anymore. we chip everything and reuse it around the park. I need at least one young guy like you to ride the Dumper up and help kick the load out.”

“Really, why?”

“Because the dump truck is a retrofit large pickup truck. It has wheel wells in the bed and the load always catches so even though the load is almost vertical. It always needs to be persuaded to slide out.”

So this is the job that I’ve done for my work days for years now. My kids, would come out with me and they were huge helps in getting the dead branches and brush up into the truck dumper and then riding up on the load over to the dump pile and loved – yes they loved – riding that dumper up into the sky and kicking the load out. They’re all older and off doing young adult things so rarely get to join me on work days any more. This last Saturday, Casey was with me and the team. He liked to ride up front with me and we talked about the park, what it was like growing up here.  His family is 3rd generation OFRC while my kids are 5th generation.  Our cabin has passed down:

  1. from my grandparents,
  2. to my great uncle and aunt-in-law, my Grandmother’s siblings,
  3. to my mother,
  4. to me and one of my sisters.
  5. We’ll see who from gen-5 takes over for us someday.

 – – = = ( o ) = = – –

It near the end of our work day. I was spent. Casey looked like he would welcome a deep chair and a cold drink. The work was done and we were taking the truck and tools back to the tool shed.

“So Casey, you didn’t grow up coming here over the years?”

“No, we came only a few times because we live so far away.”

“That’s too bad.  Let me show you something.” 

“You see that big old tree stump?”

“The one in front of the teen center – yea.”

“My mom told me when I was 6 years old and learning to ride my bike that I could ride around that stump.”

“That’s cool. That’s one huge stump.”

“Yes, but she made it a point to tell me that around that same stump is where her mom learned to ride her bike and that where she taught my mom to ride hers so she wanted to teach her kids to ride around the same stump. So we taught our 3 kids to ride around it too.  For us that stump is reminder of our heritage as an OFRC family.”

“Five generations around the same giant stump. Wow! That has to be a great memory.”

“But that’s not even my favorite part of the story. When I was done riding my bike around that stump. I decided to climb it. The top is close to 12 feet high and it was kind of rotted on the top and so you could sit in it like a secret fort and watch others ride around you.  It wasn’t an easy climb so I mostly had it to myself.  When I climbed up I noticed a small green plant poking out of the middle. I recall noticing it and almost pulled it out because I was a kid and that’s what we do, but something stopped me and I decided to leave it and check on it whenever we came back.

“And Casey, the darn thing survived who knows how many kids like me climbing up there. I was six, maybe seven when I first saw it. I’m 66 now and the year is 2021 so do the math. I saw that sprout 60 years ago, in 1961 — and look at it now.”

20210610_170506Casey looked back at the stump and realized that it was not just another stump. This one had a full grown tree growing out of the top of that stump.

“What kind of tree made that stump Casey?”

He looked and answered, “That’s a giant redwood stump.”

“And what kind of tree is that growing out of it?”

“He looked, and thought, “Oh cool! That’s no redwood tree, Is it an oak?”

“You nailed it, and now you accidentally know how old it is because you know the guy who saw it as a sprout. That is likely the largest oak tree in a redwood planter ever. Check out how the oak tree roots are slowly destroying the redwood stump.”

“This place is full of rich memories like this masterpiece stump. What do you think Casey? Is that tree up there ready for climbing?

Thanks for sharing a memory over some virtual coffee.
Blessings all! 

GW bio card 4

31 thoughts on “Coffee Share 210610: A Legacy Stump

  1. That is a beautiful area to have property like your group has. I love redwoods and Sonoma. I don’t think I have ever seen an oak tree growing out of a redwood. I hope the redwoods and all the trees there have survived the lumberjacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deb. You nailed it. This is a magical place. It is the first place my wife and I were at peace with letting our young children explore without our being right there with them. It felt strange, but also right and safe.
      And everyone there is very careful about protecting our trees. they are dearly loved and this is the only one I know of with such a bizarre tree growing within another’s stump. Small plants or wild flowers sure, but whole, full grown trees. . . ? I remain amazed at this thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Many of us collect jewelry and properties and pass them on to the next generation. But forming a group and giving the responsibility of doing some good job is pretty rare. Such tradition is an example of what humans should seek for while their stay on this earth. Keep it up and all the best, Gary 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Moumita, You have called out something I’ve tried not to take for granted, but often do anyway. This is a rare thing with details that would strengthen your point and better reveal how unusual OFRC is. Thank you for spending some time with my essay and better reminding me.
      Singapore is too far away and the expense of accepting an offer to bring your family to visit so children and parents can play a round of bocce ball together and laugh away a warm weekend day, would simply not be possible.
      But if it were possible, I would love to share one of these days with your family as well as sharing, just once, a cup of real coffee.
      We would all be happier to soak few hours in the OFRC tradition of recreation as a family.


  3. That legacy stump is a powerful story love it!!!!! and as one who is always trying to find meaningful metaphors from nature and life, there’s an inspiring one right there….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story!! Wow.. I remember a very old wooden building not far from the house I grew up in with IOOF over the front door. Years later I learned it was an Oddfellows building, but now I fully understand the acronym!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Merrilee. Thanks for spending some time with it. Sometime when you and Jeff are down for a visit, perhaps we could host a visit and a game of bocce ball there. It’s where Connor first introduced us to Jer, so she too is a cherished memory from OFRC.


  5. Hi Gary, what great memories and story. Very well done! What an awesome legacy and group. It’s truly a magical place up in those redwood forests and to have a place to visit like that is wonderful!! It is also amazing how that oak tree is growing out of the old stump. Must be some extra nutrients that it is enjoying! Have a wonderful week! ❤️


    1. Hi Janis. Yea – isn’t that strange to think about? To look at that tree now and recall how I almost pulled it up as a 6-7 year old boy. I hear from others how they too either learned or are teaching their kids to ride the bikes around that stump. In my day, we didn’t have all that lovely oak tree shade around the stump. Don’t know why I held back but am glad I did.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Antoinette. Thanks for sharing it with me. I suspected this memory would appeal to you. What could be cooler than having such a tight way of determining the age of a tree while enjoying the whole tree within a different tree stump aspect? Just plain fun.


  6. Hi Gary….it’s taken me awhile to get around to visit this last week. Sheesh. BUT I LOVE this story. Wow. What great memories. It kind of makes me sad that I didn’t really grow up with those memories. I might have, had we stayed in Ohio where most of my parents family’s lived but life called us to the PNW. My hubby’s parents love the beach and we’ve made many memories with our girls going there, and we have a spot in central Oregon we love to visit regularly and they have amazing memories there. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kirstin.
      I know plenty about busy weekends and work weeks, so worry not. Your visits are always welcome whenever they happen.
      Somehow I missed that you are in Oregon. I wish I knew that earlier as one of my stories was placed there and I’ve been hoping I got the background right. It’s only my longer pieces (about an hour to read) but I’d love and appreciate your comments because covid kept me from doing a road trip to verify certain things. I tried to write an engaging but hard story about redemption but of course, the main scene has to be correct. If you do read it, please let me know if you agree with Havilah’s decision or you want to punch 👊 me out. Here’s the link if you are willing to take a very different kind of reading ride.
      Thanks for stopping by to read about my stump memory and for your very kind feedback.
      Gary 🌳


  7. We have an Oddfellows group in our town. Great organization! They always donated prized to the science fair when I was director.

    The oak tree growing out of the redwood stump is very cool! I have never seen anything similar. Thanks for introducing a new concept! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have such great memories of that stump and it amazes me how few people recognize how odd it is. It really is right in front of the teen center and each summer many people walk right past it. I finally decided it had to called out. Glad you enjoyed it.


  8. That is a v very sweet memory, and kinship of sorts. I have heard of Odd Fellows befor, but did not know so much about the fellow ship. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

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