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The Shawnee News-Star
  • With Shawnee roots, Oregon man returns to open Christmas tree lot

  • With roots in Shawnee, Brent Wojahn of Portland, Ore., who was recently laid off from his job at an Oregon newspaper, decided to drive 1,900 miles to Shawnee and is here until Dec. 21 to operate a fresh cut Christmas tree lot for the holidays.
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  • With roots in Shawnee, Brent Wojahn of Portland, Ore., who was recently laid off from his job at an Oregon newspaper, decided to drive 1,900 miles to Shawnee and is here until Dec. 21 to operate a fresh cut Christmas tree lot for the holidays.
    Wojahn, whose newspaper career began back in 1977 when he joined The Shawnee News-Star as a photographer, has spent the past 34 years at The Portland Oregonian, where he was an award winning and Pulitzer-nominated photographer.
    But a recent round of layoffs there prompted Wojahn to embark on unexpected journey in life, so he decided to make the 54-hour drive back to Shawnee, where his family roots run deep.
    Originally from Oregon and a graduate of Oregon State, Wojahn built friendship and relationships when working in Shawnee from 1977 to 1979 and even met his wife here. They have vacationed here yearly ever since.
    His longtime friend and former co-worker in Oregon started a Christmas tree farm 20 years ago to take trees to his hometown of Waco, Texas, each Christmas, which gave him an idea.
    "I always thought it was enchanting for them to go across the country to sell Christmas trees," he said.
    So after finding himself unemployed after 34 years and facing the holiday season with plenty of free time, Wojahn thought he would give the Christmas tree lot a try here in Shawnee.
    While most people in his home state can get a permit and drive out to cut their own Christmas trees this time of year, he said he discovered many people in Oklahoma use artificial trees from their attic.
    Learning all he could about Christmas trees in the past couple months, he leased a lot at 904 N. Harrison and set up a temporary location here in Shawnee — a place he said feels like something out of the 1950s, complete with Christmas songs playing.
    He plans to be open daily and will spend any free time with family while he's in town. With his mother-in-law residing here, he's been able to visit with relatives while having a place to stay — not to mention all the home cooking he's been enjoying, he said.
    As he gives a tour around the lot, he talks about each type of tree — Douglas Firs, Grand Firs and Noble Firs — and explains that Douglas firs take five years to develop, while the others take up to 10 years to grow before harvest.
    With 400 Christmas trees in stock, he'll plan to stay in Shawnee until Dec. 21 or until all the trees are gone, whichever comes first, he said.
    After that, he'll make the 1,900 mile drive back to Oregon, probably in the nick of time.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I want to get home for Christmas," he said.
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