When Auburn began assessing the damage at Toomer's Corner, the prognosis for the pair of oft-rolled, 130-year-old oak trees pumped full of poison by a hardcore Alabama fan was grim. It was still grim when horticulture professors offered a glimmer of hope for the trees' survival a few weeks later. These days, it's still grim: The oaks' branches are significantly less full and they're noticeably yellow and brown in the thick of the green season.
But the glimmer of hope remains, too — first, because the trees are still producing foliage, even while losing it, and second, because they may last just long enough to withstand the annual barrage of toilet-paper rolls from Auburn fans:
…there's some good news, [Toomer's Corner Task Force member Gary] Keever says. The trees keep producing more leaves which means there's a chance for survival. "When the trees do that, that means there is enough food storage for them to survive. As long as the foliage process continues, the trees will live," he said.
But with fall right around the corner, is there a possibility of keeping the tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner alive?
"We're looking at a strategy to remove the toilet paper by hand, but let the trees to still be rolled," said Keever. … "What we really need to avoid is people setting the toilet paper on fire, and the water pressure damaging the tree."
The line about the water pressure is a reference to the hoses frequently turned on the trees by the Montgomery-based company charged with cleaning up the scene on post-roll mornings, which could wreak havoc on weakened branches. (Although come to think of it, flames could wreak havoc on perfectly healthy branches, too, as it very nearly did after Auburn's win over Georgia last November.) If the branches are deemed too weak even for toilet paper, the Task Force might recommend the post-victory parties relocate to another pair of trees at a nearby intersection. That decision is coming next month.
In the meantime, if you're keeping tabs on our friend Harvey Updyke, aka "Al from Dadeville," he's still Twitterting away under his own name while awaiting trial — and waiting, and waiting — for allegedly poisoning the oaks. He's presumably recovered from a dramatic gas station ambush following a preliminary hearing in April, too, though regular readers (and Paul Finebaum listeners) will be shocked to learn that Opelika (Ala.) Police have all but dropped the case after pursuing Updyke's alleged assailant to a dead end. "Currently there have been no witnesses to come forward, no evidence collected," Capt. Allen Elkins told the War Eagle Reader last month. "The investigators have nothing to go on at all."
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.