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A TREE-MENDOUS TRADITION – Register Guard Dec 5th 2003

July 19, 2011


Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

PLEASANT HILL – Camille Hall just wanted to know one thing: “Are we going to cut it?”

“Do you have a saw?” asked Nancy Cox, maintenance supervisor at the NBA Olive Plaza. Not to be confused with the professional basketball league, the Eugene retirement home is a member of the National Benevolent Association.

“Camille, have you ever done this before?” asked Ed Oxenreider, the home’s services coordinator.

“No,” said the 70-year-old woman who moved to Eugene from Arizona on Nov. 8, as she walked with five other seniors through the thousands of trees on 21 acres here at the Morningstar Tree Farm. “I’ve never had a live (Christmas) tree before.”

As it turned out, Hall and five other residents of Olive Plaza, a federally subsidized facility for low-income seniors, didn’t have to worry about cutting down the 10-foot grand fir they chose to adorn their lobby. That was taken care of by 25-year-old Ethan Holub, whose parents, Andrew and Terri Holub, own the farm where they first planted 25,000 trees next to their home about 20 years ago.

Every December, retirement homes, schools, Boy Scouts, homeless shelters and others come to the farm to pick out their trees, followed by a cup of warm hot chocolate or hot cider.

There’s something special about a group of older folks who have come to rekindle memories from their youth, Ethan Holub said. “It’s really neat to see them,” he said. “They have a blast.”

And they often get a free tree.

“Did you know they just gave us that tree?” asked Fay Koster, 84, her head bundled in a warm pink-and-purplish knit stocking cap, after the tree and been chopped and wrapped for delivery. “That’s wonderful.”

The tree normally would have cost $5 per foot, or $50 total. Plus $20 for delivery.

“That’s kind of a fun part of it, to give trees away,” said Andrew Holub, a Eugene dentist.

Seniors from Olive Plaza have been going out and cutting down a Christmas tree every year since the retirement home opened in 1980, Oxenreider said. Each year a handful of the home’s 150 or so residents choose to go.

“It’s good to get out,” said 82-year-old Jane Ottis, who was on her third straight tree-cutting outing.

Koster, a widow who moved to Eugene eight years ago to be closer to her eldest daughter, spent most of her early years in Akron, Ohio. During the World War II years, she and her husband, Bill, used to wait until the Christmas tree lots were closed on Christmas Eve before going out and taking a tree, because they couldn’t afford one.

Delores Wood, 66, grew up on a farm in Wilbur, just north of Roseburg. She has fond memories of her mother leading her and her three brothers and three sisters out on the farm each year to chop down a tree while their father was busy working at a local sawmill.

But it was Hall, the first-timer, who seemed the most excited about this trip.

“This is great out here,” she said, taking a deep breath and looking out into the fog-shrouded hills.


If your retirement home, school or other organization would like to make an appointment to cut down a Christmas tree, call Ethan Holub at 741-8027. The farm is located at 3616 N. Morningstar Road in Pleasant Hill. Appointments must be made during the week, but the farm is also open to groups and the general public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.


Fay Koster, 84, expresses delight as she and other Olive Plaza retirement home residents find a perfect tree in Pleasant Hill on Thursday morning.

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