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City Park lake's tree holds many memories

December 26, 2010|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown residents Leon and Josephine Geibel donated a tree to the City of Hagerstown, which is on display in the center of the lake at City Park.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — As Leon and Josephine Geibel drive past Hagerstown's City Park on their way to church at St. Mary's Catholic Church, they take an extra long look at the Christmas tree floating on the platform in the middle of the lake.

For 12 years, that almost 25-foot pine tree graced the front yard of their home in the South Pointe neighborhood.

Now the couple can easily use the sidewalk to their front door without walking around the extensive lower branches of the tree. They also have a lot more daylight coming into their front rooms.

"It was supposed to be a slow grower, but it must have liked that spot. ... Another year and we were going to have to use a machete to get across the walk," said Josephine, 76, with a laugh.

The couple, who recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary, purchased the tree at Snavely's the year they moved to South Pointe to use as their first Christmas tree there. Instead, after reading up on using a rooted tree inside, then transplanting it outside, they decided it was too complicated and just planted the 3 1/2-foot tree outside.

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While the Geibels said they don't do as much gardening as they used to, they seem to know what they're doing when it comes to growing things. Pruning and fertilizing, often with acidic coffee grounds that pine trees like, were part of the regular care of the tree that now stands in City Park.

They decorated the tree each Christmas, until the tree got too big. Facing the realization that the tree had gotten too big for their yard, the Geibels called the City of Hagerstown last year, but it was too late.

They waited one more year, this time knowing to call by September for consideration.

"We hate to throw anything away. We thought the city could use it since we enjoyed it so many years," said Leon, 79.

Junior Mason, superintendent of parks and recreation for the city, came out and took a look, and said he was considering about 15 trees, but only needed two. One would light up Public Square in downtown Hagerstown, while the other would adorn the lake at City Park.

When their tree was chosen for the park, the Geibels were invited to be special guests for the tree lighting on Dec. 3. Despite the cold, they were pleased to be on hand to help light the tree for the first time.

"We really enjoyed it. And to see our tree lit up ... that was something to see," Leon said.

The Geibels, who are originally from Pittsburgh, settled in Hagerstown by way of Silver Spring and Kensington, Md. They really enjoy their "nice, friendly" neighborhood and the friends they've made since moving here.

"We've enjoyed life here," Josephine said.

Prior to retirement, Leon was a project manager/draftsman estimator in electrical construction. Josephine was a housewife until their first grandchild was born, then got a job working in the accounting department of Sears in Shady Grove, Md.

They used to camp with their four children at Ole Mink Farm in Thurmont, Md. When deciding where to retire that would be convenient to their family in Pittsburgh and adult children in Frederick, Gaithersburg and Rockville, Md., they chose Hagerstown.

They now have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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