Memory of Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree Lives in Naperville Tree

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Memory of Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree Lives in Naperville Tree
Steve Koek
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Memory of Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree Lives in Naperville Tree

Send in photos of your tree and you could win tickets to The Diary of Anne Frank in July

Last summer I began a new career working from home as a full-time freelance web content writer. Every day, I spend hours staring out of the window thinking of the next sentence to write about HVAC services, interior decorating tips, portable storage units, or whatever other topics are on my docket for that particular day.

I can see a large tree in my neighbor’s yard that leans up against the side of the house. It takes up a good portion of the second story window in the extra bedroom that is now my home office. I sat looking at that tree while wondering how to make the pros and cons of FHA home loans sound compelling, and I began thinking how the tree will change with the seasons and mark the passage of time for the duration of my time working out of this office.

Changing of the Seasons

As thoughts of Summer Place Theater’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank are rarely far from my mind, it occurred to me that by the time we open the show at Naperville Central High School on July 9 (tickets on sale now) that tree will be in full bloom, with its leaves holding onto the branches with their tightest grip before the cool of fall begins to weaken and release them once again.

Then my mind turned to the tree that Anne herself used to mark the passage of time in the attic of her father’s secret annex above his Amsterdam business. The windows of the annex were shuttered so that no one from the outside world would be able to catch a glimpse of the eight Jews in hiding from the Nazis. One tiny slit in the corner of the attic safely revealed a sliver of the outside world.

“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine…”

Anne watched as the chestnut tree went through two full cycles in the two years and one month she was in hiding with her family.

Unlike Anne, who would turn from her tree for continue a life in hiding, I turn from “my” tree to a life of freedom, where I am able to move about without the fear of discovery and the terror that followed for so many.

Keeping Anne’s Story Alive

Now that the connection has been made, I will never look at that tree the same way. In the coming months, it will be covered with snow and then slowly show signs of life. Leaves will begin to appear, grow and brighten in color.

Before the color fades and the leaves begin to lose their luster, we will complete a journey that will take us into the secret annex as a way to help keep alive Anne’s diary and the thousands of other stories that honor those who survived and memorialize the millions who did not, my grandparents among them.   

The tree will go on. Life will go on. We are participating in this production, in part, to help ensure these stories go on as well.

Post Pictures of Your Tree for Your Chance to Win Tix

Can you see a tree outside the window of your home that you enjoy watching as the seasons change throughout the year? Post a photo of your favorite tree that reminds you of Anne’s chestnut tree to our Facebook or Instagram pages with the hashtag #annestree and you could be entered to win a pair of tickets to see Summer Place Theatre’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank

Open auditions for The Diary of Anne Frank are Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2, with performances on July 9-12. Tickets for all three of Summer Place Theatre's 2020 shows are on sale now

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