This tree, like most, had a story to tell

They cut down the tree Bobby Waitkevich fell out of and nearly killed himself.
Yes, that Bobby Waitkevich. Whitey to some. Pedro to others.
But I didn’t even know his name when it happened. He was just that little kid across the street. What was he doing at the top of that tree anyway?
I know. It’s difficult to imagine Bobby Waitkevich as little. His high school chums remember him as a 6’7, 220 pound lineman. His more recent friends picture him as hovering somewhere on the north side of 250.
I haven’t seen Bobby in several months. I hear he’s lost some weight. The hard way. He’s been ill. Gravely ill.
Those of us who have enjoyed Bobby’s company throughout our lives, his keen wit and his big, big laugh, should thank God he survived that fall. I know I do.
It was 1959, I believe, maybe ’60. We had just moved into the house near Pittston High School on the corner of Butler and Radcliffe streets. The Waitkevichs lived on the opposite corner.
I was 10 years old and out in the front yard when I heard the snapping of branches and rustling of leaves and then the thud, the loud, awful thud, when Bobby hit the ground. “That little kid over there fell out of the tree,” I yelled through the screen door to my mom.
Bobby lay motionless. We all held our breath waiting for the ambulance. He was hospitalized for several days but somehow lived. He was five years old. They called it a miracle in the neighborhood.
My mom and Bobby’s, the lovable Mazie Waitkevich, became best friends. Same for our dads.
Mazie and Cab, Bobby’s dad’s nickname, were still alive when I came back and bought our family home in 1995. My mom was there alone, widowed the year before, and I was recently divorced. We needed each other.
When Cab and I shoveled snow together that first winter I had vivid memories of he and my dad doing the same for more than 30 years.
Bobby was living in California then, but he, too, returned home and when all of our parents were gone (his dad survived the longest), he and I often marveled at how quickly we had inherited the corner properties with all the snow to shovel, leaves to rake, and litter to pick up after the school kids.
He had become his dad, and I mine.
Bobby, I hear, has opted for the more manageable lifestyle of apartment living. Good for him. His niece is taking over the homestead.
It was she who decided the old tree needed to go. A wise decision, no doubt, but looking at that stump brought back memories. That little kid across the street sure was a survivor.

Ed Ackerman