Old ‘Smok­ing Tree’ trans­formed into ‘Ole Smokey’ Pioneer mas­cot

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - Staff Re­ports

GEN­TRY — In 1973 or there­abouts, Gen­try opened up a new high school. In those days smok­ing was al­lowed on the school cam­pus but only un­der the shade of an oak tree in the cir­cle drive south of the school.

In early July, de­mo­li­tion of that build­ing be­gan to make way for a new school class­room build­ing for the In­ter­me­di­ate School. Also to be re­moved in the de­mo­li­tion was the tree which had be­come known as the “Smok­ing Tree.”

Mem­bers and friends of the class of ’82 scram­bled to save the tree, but no one was will­ing to be chained to it. Class mem­bers did the next best thing. They saved the tree for an­other pur­pose.

The tree was re­moved and carved by Lee Collins, with a chain­saw, to repli­cate the Gen­try Pioneer mas­cot. The project is now com­plete, but there are pay­ments yet to be made. The class re­cently be­gan ac­cept­ing dona­tions to pay for the trans­for­ma­tion but still has a way to go.

Any­one who would like to be a part of this project and make a small do­na­tion may con­tact Susie Weeks or Salty Teresa McFadin Lowry. They were also at the first home foot­ball game of the Gen­try Pi­o­neers with a bucket to ac­cept dona­tions.

The carv­ing has been nick­named “Ole Smokey” in honor of the Smok­ing Tree from which it was carved. It will be proudly dis­played by the Gen­try School District, pos­si­bly in a case in the lobby of the high school gym.

The Class of ’82 thanks all who con­trib­ute in support of the “Ole Smokey” project.

For more in­for­ma­tion or to do­nate, con­tact Randy Cripps at 479-752-7432 or Susie Weeks at 479-2282361.

What was once the old “Smok­ing Tree” was saved from de­mo­li­tion and trans­formed into “Ole Smokey,” a replica of the Gen­try Pioneer mas­cot. The chain­saw sculp­ture will soon be dis­played on the high school cam­pus.

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