A Tree Named Walter

little-anthony_andamericorps“I think that tree needs a name. It looks like a Walter to me.”

“Little” Anthony Giordine is full of surprises. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and legendary vocalist of doo-wop group ‘Little Anthony and the Imperials,’ he seems equally comfortable at a down-home farm or snazzy performance venue. We had the great fortune to meet Anthony when he visited SAHC’s Community Farm in late September to help plant apple trees for the beginning of our orchard. The trees should start bearing fruit in just 2-3 years.

treeplantingA man with an illustrious career and decades of experience in the music industry, Anthony has a wonderful sense of humor — of charm and wit. He spoke easily of times and people, places traveled, and memories marking  a life full and well-lived. Approachable and just plain fun to be around, he certainly has a roll-up-the-sleeves, can-do kind of spirit.

Driving through the scenic countryside on the way to our Community Farm, Anthony remarked “This is the way America really is — red barns and fields. You come to a place like this and it gives you hope. A guy could really live in a place like this.”

Shortly after arriving at the Community Farm and making introductions, he picked out a GoldRush apple tree to plant and said, “Okay, let’s do this thing.”

planting-and-laughingA group of SAHC staff and members had gathered to help plant a small assortment of apple trees, provided by Cummins Nursery — just the beginning for a future orchard on the farm. Eager to get started, Little Anthony shared stories of farm experiences from his own youth as he dug to plant the apple tree dubbed Walter.

“My mother’s people were from Savannah. They were farmers, and growing up, I’d hear them talk about it. I grew up in Brooklyn but spent a lot of summers in Wainscott on Long Island, on the farm — learning how to milk cows and everything. It’s the Hamptons now, but back then it was a lot different — it was all farmland.”

Anthony shares more about the story in his new biography, Little Anthony: My Journey, My Destiny by Arlene Krieger, available for purchase now.

“My mother had a green thumb. We lived in an apartment, but she always had something growing. Well, she passed that green thumb on to me. I take care of all the plants in our house.”

After finishing the tree-planting,  Anthony and SAHC staff and visitors enjoyed a few refreshments, joking and swapping bear stories. As we wrapped up and began to depart, he remarked, “I will have to come back to visit and see how that tree is doing, too.”