The Edge Outer Banks 2000.2001 Home

THE FAMILY TREE
Text By Jewel Bond

It was early spring of last year when Mae Blankenburg picked up the phone at her Kill Devil Hills home and rang her dad a few doors away to break some exciting news.

Blankenburg and her fiance, Bob Lunden, had found some property in Colington where they wanted to build a home. “It’s close to where you grew up, Dad,” she told him. “I’d love for you to walk the boundaries with me.”

“I had a tax map of the property with me when Bob and I picked him up the next day. He looked at it, but said nothing,” Blankenburg says. “When we got there, the car was barely stopped when Dad jumped out and just took off into the woods.

“Where are you going?!” she yelled after her dad.

“I just want to see if something is still here,” he shouted back as he raced through the tangled briars and into the woods. The stunned couple just tried to keep up.

“It’s still here and look how it’s grown,” her dad said, pointing to a tree in the midst of a dense overgrowth.

Blankenburg was baffled. All she saw was her dad standing by an ordinary holly tree, not unlike others native to the area. That was, until she looked closer. There in the age-thickened bark, only slightly distorted by time, was a deeply chiseled engraving — “I.S.” and “A.B” — encircled by a heart. Blankenburg realized with a jolt that the initials inside were those of her parents, Ida Sawyer and Allen Beasley.

“Dad said those initials were carved into that tree over fifty years ago,” she says. “It was the year before he and Mom were married. I was totally flabbergasted. Bob said I guess that means we’ve bought some property.”

Blankenburg’s mother admits that it was a bit of a shock for her, too, when she first laid eyes on the tree. It was in the fall before her sixteenth birthday. All that summer, she’d had a “mad crush” on Allen Beasley; it began the day she came to spend her school break on the Outer Banks with Beasley’s sister, who also was Sawyer’s aunt by marriage. Allen Beasley was ten years older than Ida. He was not really her kin, but he treated her like a kid sister. How was she to know he would fancy her?

On a sunny autumn day before Ida returned to her home in Portsmouth, Virginia — back to her junior year in high school — Allen took her to see the tree.

They married the following year, after a courtship her parents deemed suitable, and made their home on the Outer Banks. Commercial fishing became the means for Beasley to support his family. Four children were born of this union: Mae, the firstborn, followed by son Terry, daughter Sonia and son Jeff. Mae, Sonia and Terry have given the long- time sweethearts four grandsons.

“I don’t think any of us had a clue about this tree,” Blankenburg says. “I think it’s so romantic. I asked Bob if he would carve our initials on a tree and he said maybe after the electricity was run. He would want to use a router. It’s quicker.”




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