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Family ficus tree focus of love story, contest

| Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 5:39 p.m.

YORK — Back then, it was no big thing.

Boy meets girl; girl likes boy; boy asks her for her hand. They kiss.

And they raise their ficus tree together.

OK, the ending is a bit different.

But then so, too, is the 7-foot-tall ficus tree tucked away in a storeroom at Re-Source York on Ninth Avenue in North York. It sits on a wheeled skid in an inch-and-half-thick clay pot, about midway between the cans of used roofing nails and a row of toilets. It sheds a little on the concrete floor.

It looks sad.

Bill Albritton, assistant manager at the home supply store, said he and an employee were in charge of the pickup, about a month ago. The tree came in with a wardrobe and some spare lumber from a home in Spring Garden Township.

The couple explained the ficus just wouldn't fit in their U-Haul.

“They seemed pretty broken up,” Albritton recalled.

That's likely because the tree was theirs for more than 30 years. The couple ­— Janis and Stuart Jesse — married in Texas in 1978, according to their son, Skylar Jesse.

The tree was there at the church, traveled with the family to Tennessee and then to the York area, said Skylar Jesse, who lives near Harrisburg.

“It's been following me around since I was a kid,” the 25-year-old said.

And it kept getting bigger.

So the family reluctantly left it behind in York County, he said.

But the seeds of a plan were soon sown.

Averie Clark, spokeswoman with Bell Socialization Services, said on Thursday that Re-Source York will hold a contest.

Officials are seeking love story submissions of 50 to 100 words, with the chosen winner to receive the “tree of love.”

“Just make sure you have a place to put it,” she joked.

Albritton said, unfortunately, the ficus can't stay where it is.

This place is no good for it, he said, cataloging a pair of plastic pipes and a metal washer. The tree needs sunlight, he said, and room to grow. Maybe even love.

“We just don't have a market for it,” he explained.

But Janis Jesse has hope.

Reached at her new home in Tennessee, Jesse said that ficus tree was paid for by her parents, and was in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church one steamy July day in 1978, for a wedding in Wink, Texas. Wink is in the middle of the desert, she explained, and the tree added a spark of life.

All these years later, it was hard to leave it behind.

“But it was the right decision, I think,” she said.

Jesse said her ficus can be a bit temperamental. For instance, it tends to drop its leaves when it's moved, she said. And sure, it's just a tree.

But watching those little leaves appear again, that's really something, Jesse said. Life changes, and the ficus tree adjusts.

“It just grows,” she said. “And we grow.”

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