Brusly residents celebrated Arbor Day on January 21, 2005 with a special ceremony at the Back Brusly Oak Tree. The event recognized the completion of the Back Brusly Oak Tree Preservation Project, made possible through a cooperative endeavor between the family of Gerald Caillouet and the Town of Brusly and funded by grants from Dow Chemical USA and the Louisiana Urban and Community Forestry Program.
Brusly Mayor Joey Normand served as Master of Ceremonies, welcoming those in attendance and introducing those on the program. Paul Joe Gauthreaux led the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.” He is a descendant of the Dupuy family who in 1969, when the tree was enrolled as a member of the Louisiana Live Oak Society, owned the property on which the oak tree is located. The National Anthem was sung by Carmella Cardinale, a second grade student who attends Brusly Elementary School. Councilwoman Joanne Bourgeois gave a brief history of the oak tree, mentioning the role of Mrs. Ethel “Puffy” Dameron in having the tree measured and enrolled in the Live Oak Society.
R.J. Andre read the poem, “The Old Oak Tree” written by his mother, Mrs. Emily Andre in 1956 and read by her at a ceremony in 1969. Eileen Hebert Andre read a poem written by her father, Roy Hebert in 1979 entitled “The Back Brusly Oak.”
Genie Hendry, member of the West Baton Rouge Garden and Civic Club, presented comments on the Live Oak Society and asked those present to seek trees which may be eligible for membership.
Mayor Normand then recognized Paul Orr, Forester for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Paul Orr, Forester for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, presented the Mayor a plaque and TREE CITY USA flag. The TREE CITY USA program dates back to 1976 and currently over 3,000 cities nation wide are recipients of this designation. The Town of Brusly has recently been named a TREE CITY U.S.A for work done in 2004. Brusly joins 27 other communities across Louisiana that meet four standards that are the cornerstone for a formal community program that demonstrate the community’s commitment to its tree population. The four standards a community must meet are; 1. a tree board or department, 2. a public tree care ordinance, 3. a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, 4. an Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation.
Donna Carville, representing the Dow Chemical Company, remarked on the company’s commitment to local communities through various grant programs.
Mayor Normand recognized the Caillouet family, citing Gerald Caillouets’s determination to have the preservation project become a reality. The Mayor read the plaque which is now in place beneath the historic marker near the oak tree.
The program concluded with the song “America, the Beautiful”, sung by Claudette Purnell. Refreshments were served at the Brusly Town Hall following the ceremony.
The Old Oak Tree
The poem was written in 1956 by Emily Altazan (Mrs. Roy) Andre’ who died in 1994.
This is an old spreading oak.
Its beauty maybe you won’t see.
It’s been a refuge in life’s storms;
And still it stands with open arms.
No one knows its date of birth,
Just when it sprouted from the earth,
Yet since it was a little tree,
It had its share of company.
The old cypress bench smooth and worn,
Where men gathered and sat upon;
To smoke and talk and, wistfully,
Lean against the tree.
They told old tales of love and life,
As the old whittler smiled and carved with his knife.
When as a child I passed the tree
I thought, what a friendly place to be.
It will never have a lonely day,
Cause it’s been a friend in every way
I know that there will always be
Someone to love the old oak tree.
Now, whenever I go away, no matter where I roam
When I see the hanging moss and the old oak tree
I know that I have come home.
The Back Brusly Oak Tree
Written by Roy Hebert, 1979
There’s a king of all kings, tall and strong for all to see,
It stands at the end of the lane, called the Old Back Brusly Oak Tree.
The mighty oak so strong and firm, still stands with its branches so high
Gave protection to its children at play, many a day that has gone by,
For over three hundred years it has seen children go by.
A salute to the Back Brusly Oak, its arms keep waving high
The hole in the trunk is still there, where many a fire was made
On the cold, cold winter mornings where paper and wood was laid.
The humming of the wind, like the buzzing of a bee through
the branches and moss of the Old Back Brusly Oak Tree,
If the Old Oak Tree could talk, the stories that it could tell.
We’ll never forget the rounders that once we knew so well,
They’d sit on the roots of the oak after their work day was done.
If these branches could only speak, they’d tell of the stories,one by one.
As we pass by the roots of the king, we see and hear of the stories of all,
We see their ghosts as we pass on by, under the King that stands so tall.
They’d sit on the roots day by day, “Doo” and “Bouie” and Mr. Valrie,
They are all gone, but not the roots, of the Old Back Brusly Oak Tree.