It made me laugh because it perfectly captures a feeling I’ve had more than once since I moved to Houston: I’ve gotten so used to most of trees keeping their leaves all year that it’s possible to panic a little when the one in our front yard starts to shed them.
But I somehow got to thinking about this today while I was walking around campus. What specific trees was he talking about? I started looking and it didn’t make sense. Here’s what I saw last winter in between the old and the new dormitories:
Those look like live oaks to me and they most certainly don’t lose their leaves in the fall. Hmmmm. So I went to the pictures and by pure chance I found an early 1930s aerial shot that was taken during the winter. If you zoom in you can see that the trees in that spot are bare. And so are the trees along the road on the other side of the dorms–those are still cedar elms and they definitely still drop their leaves every winter. So they must have replaced cedar elms with live oaks at some point.
When? I don’t know. But it had to have been well before the late 1950s when Joseph Davies took this picture:
This was a most unexpected development. There is much to ponder.
Bonus: There has been quite a bit of new tree planting going on recently and it’s been a pleasure to see them go in. I’ve made it my mission to ensure that any future historian who wonders about the trees will have a way to figure it all out.