After my mom passed away I found the following article in her collection of memorabilia. (I have typed it out because it is so hard to read on the yellowed newspaper article.)
A Tree Grows Where?
There are several advantages to having the tallest Christmas tree in town—it’s pretty, a terrific conversation piece and there is no worry about theft of light bulbs.
That distinction belongs to the Dr. Lawrence H. Pifer family, 2120 Manchester Road, who have six feet of lighted tree atop 128 feet of tower for a grand, glowing total of 134 feet of twinkly holiday greeting.
The tree is visible for over a mile at night and remains lighted from sunset to midnight.
The idea started about 12 years ago as a lark to see which of Doctor Pifer’s friends could brave the climb up the tower, which normally serves to hold antennas for the doctor’s ham radio equipment.
Long looks at the lofty tower narrowed the field of climbers until only the doctor was left to handle tree planting duties.
He held the title of tower-climbing champion until this year, when the duties were turned over to his 13 year old son, Robby.
The story behind it all:
My family was unique… and I mean that in the best way possible. When I was a young girl, I was somewhat envious of my cousins who had a more traditional childhood. Looking back now, I appreciate how fun and unconventional our household was.
Our house was a place where people gathered. My dad was a gracious and generous host and my mother was an excellent and adventurous cook. Together they created a space where their adult friends, as well as our childhood friends, felt comfortable . Everyone wanted to come over and hang out at our house.
It was not a luxurious house. Just a simple ranch style in a middle income neighborhood. But it was like a palace to my brother and I after growing up in a very modest house where for a while my brother, Mom and I shared one bedroom . The little house had no air conditioning in the summer and a small black and white TV. So moving into a larger house where we each had our own rooms and air conditioning from a window unit AND color TV was like hitting the jackpot!
My brother, Rob and I knew we were blessed. Our biological father left when I was 5 years and Rob was 18 months old. We had seven years of living with our single mother and being raised partially by our wonderful grandparents. Then Mom found “the one” and eventually married the man we call “Father.” He adopted us and gave us the Pifer name and we never looked back. He WAS a dad to us and couldn’t have loved us more if we were his own blood.
Our dad was single for a long time before we came along. He had his share of romantic encounters and outdoor adventures and never really wanted to settle down, but he loved our mom so much, he ended up with a second family. He had raised his two children and they were on their own when we came along. He may have given up his romantic encounters but never really stopped having adventures.
Every Thursday night, he had his buddies over for a “card party”. They would drink, smoke cigars and carry on downstairs in the basement. I don’t know how much card playing actually went on but it sure sounded like they were having fun.
I adored our dad. He was a very important part of my life, but my brother Rob was SO much more like him than I. He inherited that good host quality and was always a lot braver than I was about having adventures.
I am sure it was a drunken bet with our father’s card party gang that lead to Dad climbing the 120 foot ham radio tower in our back yard to put up a Christmas tree every holiday season. He did that for years until he finally felt his health was not good enough to keep doing it. At that point, my brave brother stepped in to carry on the tradition.
I was talking with my brother the other day and he said he was never scared to make that climb. He said the view was amazing from up there. Truthfully, Rob would have done anything to make our father proud.
Our house was always full at Christmas time. Our step-brother and sister came, sometimes with friends and sometimes with their grandmother, Hon. Hon was a feisty little woman and we all loved having her there.
My brother and I have different memories of Christmas in the Pifer home. His involve conspiring with Hon to unwrap all of their Christmas presents to see what they were getting and re-wrapping them so they wouldn’t get in trouble. They would do this while the rest of us were off doing holiday errands.
I remember we had a large Christmas tree with blue fabric balls that the cat would love to bat off the tree. We would find them later unraveled under the sofa. Trying to keep the tree standing with big dogs in the house was a constant challenge. From gerbils to tropical fish to iguanas we always had pets in the house. The cat and I curled up on the bearskin rug by the fire is a very fond memory for me.
It was always cozy and festive at our house during Christmas. Plenty of good food and drink. Lots of presents, music and fun.
We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve instead of having to wait for Christmas Morning. I suspect it was a plot by my parents so they wouldn’t have to get up so early on Christmas Day. For whatever reason, we would sleep in and then have a big meal on Christmas Day.
Life was good in the Pifer home in those days! Sure do miss that!!
Appreciate your crazy family while you have them folks. And if it is too late for that, remember only the good stuff. The rest isn’t worth holding on to.