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DAVIDSON HISTORY

Revenge of the Magnolias

by | Jun 21, 2017 | Davidson History

Only the rear of the airborne car is visible, protruding from Miss Newtie’s living room, as Archer’s Towing comes to the rescue.

It was as if the two front teeth had been extracted from Main Street. Everyone saw it. Driving up Concord Road to its T intersection with Main Street, the most prominent features of the urban landscape were two large side-by-side magnolia trees in front of what is now the Needlecraft Center. At the time, the magnolias completely obscured the home of Ms. Newtie Johnson. The only sign of the house behind the trees was a short walkway leading from the Main Street sidewalk to Ms. Newtie’s elevated front porch.

The magnolias stood directly in the line of sight of drivers approaching the intersection from the east.

Until the fateful day that they didn’t.

To universal shock, one day Ms. Newtie had both of the landmark trees cut off at ground level, vertically guillotined, excised and hauled away. Their removal suddenly revealed the façade of her previously hidden home for all to see.

There was nothing anyone could do about it. The trees were hers and she had every civic right to remove them. It was just so shocking. The customary view of every eastbound Concord Road driver was altered. It was a worthy item of small town discussion, especially considering the near sacred relationship in Davidson between citizens and trees.

Because of that, some people chided Ms. Newtie for tempting fate, and said the trees would get their revenge.

And so they did. A few weeks later Donald Brown, a college custodian prone to occasional medical seizures, was headed home eastbound along Concord Road for lunch. With his hands on the wheel and foot on the gas pedal, he was suddenly stricken by another seizure. Helpless to react otherwise, he was sent hurtling down Main Street at increasing speed, straight toward Ms. Newtie’s home.

If the magnolias had been still in place, their thick foliage would have cushioned the blow. But Ms. Newtie’s yard was bare in the face of Brown’s speeding vehicle.

The wreck occurred in several stages. Brown hit the gutter first, lifting the car a few inches off the ground. It hurtled over the sidewalk and hit a low wall in Ms. Newtie’s front yard. That elevated the speeding car yet higher, and into the round brick planter where the left-hand magnolia had been. That blow lifted the car to the height of Ms. Newtie’s front porch, where she often rested in a swing. Thankfully, she was resting on an inside sofa that day, and even more thankfully had gone to the kitchen when Brown’s car smashed through her living room wall.

Neither Ms. Newtie nor Donald Brown were badly hurt in the remarkable accident, and tow trucks from Archer’s Towing were able to extricate the car from the wall back onto the street.

It just goes to show that in Davidson, be nice to the trees and think before you cut!

Bill Giduz

Bill Giduz was the son who followed his father’s footsteps into journalism. He has been involved his entire life with news and photography in schools he attended and jobs he’s held. He believes now that he’s got a few good years left to devote to The News of Davidson.

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