The Tarzan Tree, as it looks today is a sad old ghost of what it once
was when it provided us, as children, adventure and friendship in it's
branches. It was our favorite fantasy tree when we all but lived in
the park near my home in New Britain, Connecticut. We lived at 26 Hawkins
street, in a very large duplex with a cellar, and a second story as
well. The end of Hawkins street ended where the Walnut Hill Park began
and the wooded strip went all the way from Grand street to West Main
street, the entire length of the park, perhaps a kilometer or so. As
children we spent many happy hours in the park, climbing the trees and
pretending we were Tarzan, or Cheetah, or just another of the apes,
depending on how many of us were playing at the time. I was the best
climber so i was often playing Cheetah and this old tree. I can remember
swinging from branch to branch, there were many of then back then to
swing on and it was over 60 years ago when many things were different.
For one thing, Number 26 Hawkins street is no longer in existence, and
for that matter neither is Hawkins street itself. It was only one block
long and over the past 60 years it has been absorbed by the New Britain
General Hospital, which spread over the block like a giant amoeba, gobbling
up streets and houses in it's path. (but,
it, can never gobble up the memories, long termed and priceless)
long as we were in New Britain, i wanted to take Don to the places i
used to enjoy the most when i was a kid growing up there. Of course
the, Tarzan tree, was among the historic and loving sites we visited
as we traveled along my memory trail, back in time. Unknown to me, while
i was telling Don about the old Tarzan tree, he also picked up on the
spirit of the tree, and imagined what it looked like when little JP
was swinging from branch to branch through the favorite of climbing
trees, Don picked up a broken off branch that had once been a live part
of the Tarzan tree and he brought it back home to Maine with him with
a surprise in mind for me.
What does a talking stick have to do with the Tarzan tree, you may ask? Well, in the middle of September of 2006, i got a package in the mail from Maine. You guessed it, a talking stick that Don had made from that old branch off of the ancient Tarzan tree. Don, knowing that my animal totem is the Owl, incorporated that into the design and made the most beautiful talking stick i can imagine. It has the owl fetish, Owl feathers and Owl claws incorporated in it's design as well as the symbolic union of Howie, Don, and Myself and as a remembrance of Howie and the bond that, we three, shared. This is what i want to share with you all today, so i took some photo's of my newest and most honored treasure, my talking stick which was so lovingly and painstakingly crafted by my friend Don, just for me.
|Here at left you can see a full view of the talking stick, as it is currently hanging in my entry way, where everybody can see it as they enter the home. Here are some more detailed shots showing some of the art work involved in the making of the artifact.||Here is another shot of the upper end of the talking stick it is difficult to see here but there are also drawn owl feathers adorning the upper length of the stick, just below the owl looking over his back at one as they hold the stick||Here is the lower end of the stick showing the owl feathers attached to the lower end of the artifact. The entire thing is gleaming through the varnish and is surprisingly heavier than i had imagined it to be just by looking at it.|
At left you see a good detail of the owl who sits on top os the talking stick. If you will notice he is looking over his back with his head rotated 180 degrees. We are looking at his back here but his eye is on us any how.
|Besides this one, Don had carved another smaller owl in the wood of the talking stick itself. See the next shot at right. Just below the owl are real owl claws incorporated into the stick's design.|
|Here is another view showing more of the claws and the carving in closer detail. Notice the eyes on the owl and again, the owl is looking behind him, over his back, i don't know of many other animals who can do this. My father told me a story of how an Owl terrified him in the woods one time. He was afraid of Owls ever since.||Here,
you can see the initials of the three friends who once made up the terrible
trio, of JP, DM, HH, forever declaring our friendship. Howie is gone now
and some may even wonder how he hung on to life for so long with all his
medical problems, but he will never die in our hearts and minds. Howie
is our role model for dealing with difficult situations. his answer for
everything was, "Eh? Wadd'a ya gonn'a do?"
|Above, you can see a little better the feathers drawn on the top half of the talking stick .|
On the lower part of the talking stick, Don has left the wood in it's natural condition of deterioration. You can see here how the weathering of branch has taken it's toll over the years, and here it is, frozen in time and will look like this for ever. My beloved Tarzan tree may some day be taken down completely to make room for the changing world, but it will live for ever in my aging heart, and somewhere in time and space, in this quantum universe, little JP is still joyously swinging through it's ageless branches as he plays out the childhood fantasies that will live for ever in this relic from my past. Every time i look at it or touch it and examine it's details, i will relive those happy and carefree days in Walnut Hill Park, so long ago. Every time i look at the terrible trio's initials on the stick, my bond with those two souls is strengthened even more. Thank you Howie, for your courage and your inspiration in the face of adversity. Thank you so much, Don Morgan for your outstanding "work ethic", (except for the time i corrupted you) you were a worker beyond compare. I never saw anybody work as hard as you, or make me feel as crappy being a slacker, dear friend. I guess the biggest thing was your willingness to do anything me an Howie dreamed up. Those are wonderful friendships and of course my lovely gift of lasting memories from the past that you crafted from the actual pieces of my happy childhood.
JP Déry 9/15/2006