Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Doernbecher memorial trees

Today is a beautiful day here on Marquam Hill, the kind of day on which the "Mt. Hood factor" could easily shave thousands of dollars off the annual salary of an avid outdoorsman seeking employment at OHSU. Ah, what some will trade for clear skies, fresh powder, and day trips to the ocean shore!

Enjoying this sunny splendor, I again ran across as-yet unnoticed memorial plaques. One, planted below a tree in front of Mackenzie Hall, reads: "Donated to Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children in memory of our son Victor A. Llobregat." It bears no date or other identifying information, but the tree is certainly a lovely, living tribute.

Trees are lovely, and certainly in short supply now on this Hill. When there was more open space, there were more trees, and it's hard to imagine too many trees--especially if they came to campus free of charge. But history shows us that was not always the case...

A week or so back, when I was filing away lost remnants from unprocessed collections in our archival storage area, I came across a small file of correspondence related to some trees donated to the Doernbecher Hospital in 1932 by the Soroptimist Club. As it happened, the club women made the offer of trees to hospital nursing director Grace Phelps; Miss Phelps accepted the trees as a matter of course--good PR, new trees, volunteer labor to plant them.

Unfortunately, Miss Phelps failed to inform Dean Richard Dillehunt, who found out about the planting only after returning from a weekend out of town--returning to a plethora of trees on campus and unopened, unanswered mail from the women's group requesting his presence at the ceremonial planting on the Saturday previous. Dilly (as they called him) was understandably Not Pleased. Miss Phelps took full responsibility in a strong and impassioned reply. I can only assume that the matter was then put to rest and that the trees stayed (since the string of correspondence ends with Phelps' mea culpa). It would be nice to think that at least one remains somewhere, a partner to Victor Llobregat's tree....

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