The King's Own Christmas Tree
(By Ezra Dale Coons--AKA Grandpa)

[For those of you wondering where all this took place, there's a couple of maps at the bottom.  Also, a picture of the front gate of Sidi Slimane AFB, a few miles to the west of Kenitra (Port Lyautey) where Sandy was born.  The picture was taken by Bob Escale who was there from 1954-1955, used by permission of his son, Jim Escale, who posted the picture on the web.]

We looked forward eagerly to Christmas the year we were in Morocco.  It was the first time since we had been married that we had any money.  We figured we would get a nice tree and fix everything up.

When the Christmas trees showed up we were really disappointed.  There were a few from Germany, cut so long ago that the needles were all gone, and some local tamarack trees that had never had needles at all--they looked like sickly cedars.

Having gone to Northern Arizona often to find and cut great Christmas trees when I was a boy, I figured there ought to be something more suitable in the Atlas mountains because we knew it snowed there.  We set off one day in our trusty blue and white station wagon to find a tree.

Sure enough, when we got into the mountains, we began to see trees that looked more like traditional firs and spruce.  We pulled off and went off the road a ways so that the view from the road wouldn't be affected.  There we found a bushy, nearly perfectly shaped little 4-5 foot tree.  The needles were thick and very sharp, so my hands got jabbed quite a bit as I sawed through the trunk.  But it was a beautiful tree so I figured it was worth a few jabs.  We loaded it in the back and went back to Sidi Slimane.

It was the prettiest tree on base, and the envy of everyone who saw it.  When our neighbors, the Smiths, asked where we had gotten it we told them where we had gone.

Seems that in Morocco, the forest belonged to the King, and cutting was strictly forbidden.  We had unknowingly poached one of his finest firs to decorate for our Christmas tree!





Morocco--from a larger UN map 3686 from August 1992
 

Picture of Front Gate at Sidi Slimane AFB, Morocco, taken by Bob Escale