If Palm Trees Could Talk
2013-08-09 · By Jeffery Todd
The other day I was on the 26th floor of my friend’s condo on Ocean Boulevard and I got my first look at the streets I walk every day– from above. I didn’t know the 7-11 looked so tiny because on a Friday night or the Sunday after the Pride parade it looks like Union Station inside. I didn’t realize there aren’t that many tall buildings in Long Beach so you can see very far. And I thought that palm trees were taller. But you would not believe what’s at the top of them.
As I walked home I thought about those palm trees. Coming from the Midwest we see all the changes in the trees as they go from season to season, being dramatic enough to pretend they’re dying in the winter. But the palm trees stay pretty much the same except for the occasional dropping of a frond like a stubborn parent. And it turns out that palm trees can live for eighty years, easy, so they must have a lot to say.
“I am not a toilet you little shih tzu!”
“Hey, it’s called a side-walk, not a side-bicycle!”
Long Beach was incorporated in 1897 so it is likely that a palm tree that is standing today has heard stories from his or her father of those long ago days.
“When I was a kid the Port was the only way anything got anywhere, so we breathed in all that steam and we liked it! You kids today with your gas fumes you think smell so good don’t know what it’s like.”
There is probably a palm tree living today that saw the first oil discovered in 1921 and thought Signal Hill was peeing. Another may have felt the great earthquake of 1933 and thought it was something it ate. Many remember the days when the Pike was a thriving amusement park filled with lights and screams and children getting sick on the rides and not the string of small shops and restaurants where adults get sick from drinking too much. And of course, all of them remember when the Queen Mary rolled in and ‘there went the neighborhood.’
All that they’ve seen, the changing landscape, the changing population and yet the diversity of its neighborhoods, the sunshine and the occasional ocean breeze make it a place the palm trees are happy to call home. They’re trees after all, they can’t move.
I’ve been honored to be asked to write a weekly column to appear on Fridays here at Everything Long Beach. I’m looking to learn and explore the city more, so if you have something of interest where I can find the funny and other people, both local and visitor alike, might enjoy, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.