Where have all the plum trees gone?


Whatever happened to the plum tree that grew wild and attracted every youngun in the neighborhood?

The plums were once a major staple of a growing, wild and wooly child’s summer diet.

The first month of real summer in our part of the world ­— June — was always as welcome as Santa Claus. It rang in a break from school and meant plums around the neighborhood, or in other secret areas, were ready for the picking.

Grown folks might have called it harvest time, but we young’uns knew where they were and when they were ripe and kept our summer shorts bulging with the fruit of those trees.

But where have they gone?

A few weeks ago, I went driving out in areas that used to be called the country and the same areas that provided an abundance of plum trees. They are no longer there.

Many of the then-wooded areas are gone and have been replaced with development. Even in the rural areas there has been astonishing development.

This is the progress over the years that is now responsible for devastating flooding we have seen dramatically increase over the past two decades. Heavy rainfall, then, did not flood the creeks and rivers and communities and cities. It was saturated into the wooded areas and field and trees, far from the concrete of development seen today.

Now, the water has nowhere to go except into the ditches and creeks and rivers because drainage systems designed years and years ago cannot handle the overflow. Now, they flood constantly, destroying life and property and leaving misery.

I rode that day for miles around the county looking for plum trees.

They are gone.

I have not even seen a mulberry tree in years. Neighborhoods used to have black walnut trees. They, too, seem to have vanished.

We used to pick blackberries along the railroad tracks. They seem to have fallen to the same fate. They’re gone.

Plentiful summer fruit growing wild in my puppy days were our snacks, and we gathered them all barefooted.

I am not so sure all this change can rightfully be called progress.

Folks don’t even gather for big Sunday dinners like they used to. Ain’t nothing better than a piece of cold chicken on a Sunday afternoon.

I am somewhat disturbed about what happened to the plums — even more disturbed that the only place to find them now are at the high dollar roadside stands or in the grocery stores.

William Holloman is a staff writer for The Mount Olive Tribune.


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