The Quick 10: 10 Trees That Changed the World

As you might know, we’re kind of Disney freaks in this family. When you combine this with my love of obscure road trip stops, it’s rather astonishing that I grew up just two hours from Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri, and never once dropped in to see what the fuss was about. Well, I finally did over the long Labor Day weekend, and was quite taken with his Dreaming Tree. Walt’s just one of several people who had trees that meant a lot to them - here are a few of those stories.

1. Walt Disney was born in Chicago, but his dad relocated the family to a farm in Marceline when Walt was four. He spent hours under a tree he called his “dreaming tree,” hanging out with his sister Ruth and drawing the field mice and squirrels and other critters running around under the tree. When he came back to Marceline to visit in 1956, to his delight, he discovered that his tree was still there and requested some alone time so he could sit under his tree and do a little dreaming. The tree is still there, but it has been struck by lightning and has definitely seen better days.

2. When Anne Frank was stuck in her attic prison, she took solace in the horse-chestnut tree outside of her window. It appears in her diary three times:

“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.”

Sadly, after years of speculation on the tree’s lack of stability, the Anne Frank Tree snapped off nearly at the base, leaving just a foot or so of trunk. The tree was thought to be 150-170 years old.

3. Everyone knows about Isaac Newton and his apple, obviously, but what happened to the tree the apple supposedly fell from? We’re not exactly sure. There are a couple of places that claim to have The tree, most notably Woolsthorpe Manor, Newton’s family home. A piece of this tree was even sent into space in May.

4. If you’ve ever been to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, you probably can’t imagine a quaint little street with a buttonwood tree. But that’s exactly what it used to be. Back in 1792, 24 stock brokers stood under a little Buttonwood tree on Wall Street and signed the Buttonwood Agreement, founding the NYSE. It’s long gone now, but it certainly left quite the legacy.

5. Like the Dreaming Tree and the Anne Frank Tree, the Mercer Oak is a shadow of its former self. During the Revolutionary War, General Hugh Mercer was stabbed by a British soldier during the Battle of Princeton in 1777. He staggered to the great white oak, bracing himself on its trunk so he could continue to support his troops. Mercer ended up dying some days later, but his oak tree became a symbol of his bravery and for the Princeton community. It fell in 2000, but it was propagated and a new tree was planted in the trunk of the old one.

6. The Geneseo Big Tree was the victim of a flood sometime in the mid-1800s, but prior to that it was the site of the Treaty of Big Tree, which opened up what is now Western New York for settlers and established 10 reservations for the Seneca nation.

7. Hampton, Virginia, is the home to the Emancipation Oak, a tree where former slaves and their children met to get an education. Teacher Mary Smith Peake taught up to 50 children and 20 adults under the oak tree until she got ill in 1862 and died of tuberculosis. In 1863, the tree became the site of the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

8. King Charles II of England wouldn’t have lived to sign the charter that established the Hudson Bay Company if he hadn’t taken refuge in the Royal Oak during the Battle of Worcester in 1651. As Commonwealth troops descended upon Boscobel House where Charles and other Royalists were holed up, the King took the opportunity to flee to the oak tree on the grounds, figuring his enemies would never think to scale a tree to find him. He was right: Charles confirmed in 1680 that a soldier stood directly below him while he hid there. The tree was virtually destroyed in the following years as people came and sawed off chunks for souvenirs, but “Son of Royal Oak” lives on. After it was damaged in a storm in 2000, Prince Charles planted another sapling, making it “Grandson of Royal Oak.”

9. A tree with even older royal ties, the Queen Elizabeth Oak, lives on the grounds of the Royal Palace of Hatfield where Elizabeth I spent her childhood. She was supposedly sitting under this tree when she was informed she had become the Queen of England. It no longer stands today, but perhaps the strength and beauty of the original is what prompted Elizabeth to say this when she was told of her future: "A domino factum est mirabilis in oculis nostris" or "this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes."

10. Would the use of medicine be as widespread today if the Tree of Hippocrates had never existed? …Okay, yeah, it probably would be. But maybe the tree hastened our knowledge of it, because it’s where Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, taught his students everything he knew about the subject. The current tree is only (“only”) about 500 years old, but it’s believed to be a descendant of the original. Cuttings of it can be found at Yale, the University of Alabama College of Medicine, the University of Michigan Medical School and at the University of Victoria, among other places.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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