Tahoe Pine Nuts: Washington’s cherry tree belonged to a neighbor
There are moments in history that are lost or go unnoticed because they were not recorded, and so they have to be carefully pieced together from personal experience.
At risk of damaging my reputation for modesty, I happen to be a respected history detective, and people who know me often refer to me as, “The Sloth,” I mean “Sleuth.”
A case in point is the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. This endearing legend has stood the test of time, and has been passed along from fathers to sons since 1738, when George was just six years old.
As everyone knows, on his 6th birthday, George received from his father a hatchet. Why a hatchet nobody knows, maybe for the same reason that today a six year old might receive a grenade launcher or anti-tank missile.
So young George was bored one day and took that hatchet to a cherry tree in the back yard. (Actually, he was in his neighbor’s yard, and thus we learn the rest of the story from Mr. Potts, who happened to catch young George in the act.)
Mr. Potts was a wise old gentleman who had a large pond on his property, and he walked to that pond each afternoon with food for the fish.
One warm summer day, upon arriving at the pond, Mr. Potts discovered three neighborhood young ladies skinny-dipping in the cool waters. He shouted to them, “Keep swimming, ladies, I’m just here to feed the alligator.”
On his way back to the house, after getting an eyeful, Mr. Potts spotted young George whacking away at his cherry tree with his brand new hatchet.
Mr. Potts shouted, “Son, what are you doing with that hatchet?!”
Young George stopped chopping and shouted back, “I want a cherry, Sir, and I can have all the cherries I want once I chop down this cherry tree!”
“Well, Son, that’s my cherry tree you’re chopping down, so lay down your hatchet!”
The next day George’s father caught George chopping down a cherry tree on his own property and asked him what in the nation he thought he was doing.
George responded, “I cannot tell a lie, Father, I’m trying to chop down this dang cherry tree so I can load up my pockets with cherries.”
Young George’s honesty overwhelmed Mr. Washington, who grabbed his son, hugged him, and choked-up with emotion, told him, “George, bless you, I value your honesty more than I value a thousand cherry trees.”
At that point young George fessed up. “Dad, yesterday I chopped down Mr. Pott’s cherry tree, so I’m really glad that you care more for my honesty than the suit Mr. Potts is filing in small claims court.”
George Washington could not tell a lie. I can but choose not to, and we’ll draw a curtain of charity over the rest of the comparison…
Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostofmarktwain.com.
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