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Giant twins (Gortner)

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The Giant Twins

The Rev. J. C. Breuninger

This is the story of two giants. The one was a tree; the other, a man. The tree was a spreading white oak, a very great white oak, whose ancestor could have come to the new world as an acorn in the beak of a bird. The man was a German, a very staunch pioneer German, whose ancestor could have come from a forest; the people of Europe lived in forests in ancient times. These twins lived side by side, and each derived endurance from the other. The oak had lived a long time before the man, and lived a long time after.

The belt of trees which stretch around the globe binds mankind with animal, bird, insect and flower, not only in terms of survival but as relating to our present history. Of all the trees in the western world the oak is the most widely scattered and belongs to the inner circle of our tradition.

It is doubtful if any other species contains so many varieties. Here in Garrett County there are at least eight. The white oak is the monarch of them all. When it has a chance to spread its branches in the sun it reaches out in long-arm symmetry, fanning out like the feathers of a strutting peacock. And what wood has so many distinguished uses unless it would be the maple and the pine that go into the making of a violin. The oak tree is to us what the palm tree is to the people of the orient and the cocoa tree to those of the South Pacific.

The oak tree represents much more than utility. It has, even in pre Christian times, been a mystical symbol. There comes to mind the rites of the white-robed priests of the Druids who offered up sacrifices on altars in their sacred groves of oak. Much less known by posterity is the King of the Wood by Lake Como in Italy where the golden bough, the mistletoe, was protected by the life of the Guardian King. This is the oldest reference to an oak in connection with religious magic. It has been exhaustively presented by Sir John Frazer in his book entitled "The Golden Bough".

In 1613 under the sanction of James I the city of London formed a society with the following name: "The Society of the Governor and Assistants of London of the New Plantation within the Realm of Ireland." Because of the events which followed it can be understood why the old, monastic town of Derry should have added to it the prefix of London. And so to this day it is known by most outsiders as Londonderry and mostly famous for the Irish folksong "The Londonderry Air."

However the word "Derry" in Gaelic (Daire) meant an oak grove,


Rev. J. C. Breuninger


Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Editor: Felix G. Robinson

Maryland, History

Western Maryland, 1750-1963

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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