By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Harris Blackwood: A friend with a chainsaw is a friend indeed
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

There are a lot of ways you measure your friends at various stages of your life.

When you are in the early stages of adulthood, there are friends who will help you move. Sometimes it requires buying pizza and some liquid refreshment. But there comes a time when no amount of food will get friends to come and help you move a sofa, a bed or a refrigerator.

I have this friend we call W.L. I used to just call him W, but then President George W. Bush laid claim to that single initial reference. W.L. cleans up pretty well, but I’m not sure he looks presidential.

W.L. is quite handy with a chainsaw. For years, he was in the insurance business. He sold a lot of life and fire insurance. I think in another life, he might have been a tree cutter. I don’t think he would qualify as an arborist or a tree surgeon, he’s just a cutter.

The phone rang the other day and W.L. was on the other end.

“What are you going to do about that tree in your yard,” he asked. The tree he was talking about was one that was pretty much dead, except for a little section in the center. I postponed cutting it down. I really didn’t think it would make a comeback.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately and find myself awake in the middle of the night. Television is pretty awful in the middle of the night. There are lots of infomercials that sell everything from stuff to polish your car to stuff that will help men do what married folks are supposed to do.

There are also several preachers on who have rented big auditoriums and have folks lined up to be healed. He suggests that if you send him some money on your credit card, he would pray for your healing. I thought about calling one of these guys and see if they have any experience with nearly dead trees.

About 50 years ago, I called Pat Robertson and asked him to pray for my dog. He read my note on the air and sure enough, that dog recovered from eating something he wasn’t supposed to. You will not hear me say anything bad about Pat Robertson. Any man who will pray on TV for your sick dog is fine with me.

I digress.

W.L. said when the weather turned nice, he’d come over with his chainsaw and we would tackle that tree. Sure enough, W.L. didn’t even knock on the door. I heard the sound of someone trying to start a chainsaw. I walked out and there was old W.L. cranking it up and climbing a ladder to get one of the two big limbs on the tree.

He cut through as much as he could, but the limb hung on.

“I’ve got some chain and we can hook this limb up to my truck and pull it down,” W.L. said.  He tied that chain around it and we hooked it to the trailer hitch on his truck. W.L. gave it some gas and the tree started moving. The whole thing, including the roots toppled over.

We stood there in amazement.  Then, he started cutting it up and we stacked the big chunks out by the street. The city of Gainesville came by Monday morning in a truck with a giant claw attached to it. Most of that tree is now gone.

I don’t know how old you have to be for friends with chainsaws to stop volunteering to help you. I’m going to send that TV preacher five bucks and pray that W.L. sticks around for long time.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

Regional events