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Saturday, June 11, 2016

The "Abe Would Be Honored" Story

Al's newest Lincoln sculpture in front of his
home at 2112 Marietta Ave. in Lancaster, PA
It was an ordinary day.  Talking on the phone with Al when he said, "Bring Tad with you if he can come."  Tad is my youngest son who just happens to have the same name as Abraham Lincoln's son.  And, Al is a big Abraham Lincoln fan.  So big that he has had two trees on his home along Marietta Ave. in Lancaster, PA carved into statues of Lincoln as well as having a large likeness of Abe painted on his barn in his backyard.  Made a visit one day last week to visit Al and take a few photos of his statues and the painting on his barn.  All started a few weeks ago when I was driving past his house on Marietta Ave. and saw this guy with a chainsaw carving the tree in front of Al's home.  Had to stop and watch the amazing artwork of this guy who I found out from Al also did the other sculpture in his back yard.  
Painting by "Two Dudes" on Al's Barn
Then, a few days later I saw an article in the local paper telling about the sculptor, H. Dean Fox, who makes chainsaw sculptures on trees.  Got Al's name from the article and after a search of the Internet and local phone book and coming up with nothing, wrote him a snail mail letter.  Kind of suspected that if I tell him my son's name was Tad, I would get a call.  So, I'm sitting in his back yard under his patio table umbrella on a beautiful sunny day, talking with someone that ... reminds me of myself.  Guy loves cars, coached little league baseball, enjoys comedian Larry David and even travels to St. Martin on vacation.  
The wording next to the sculpture on Al's barn. The likeness
on the barn was taken from a Matthew Brady photo which
can be seen at the end of this story.
I made my visit today, minus Tad, since he was sleeping due to his work schedule, to see why he has all these sculptures around his house of Abraham Lincoln.  He told me he always wanted to be an expert on something, so he chose the Civil War.  Found out that was too broad, so he narrowed it down to ... well, Abraham Lincoln. About ten years ago his wife had the painting of Lincoln done on the barn for a birthday present for him.  
The Abe Lincoln sculpture in his back
yard that was made from a locust tree.
"Two Dudes", local painting contractors, did the job and it looks great!  Next to it is lettered, in script writing, information about Al's favorite speech that Lincoln gave on February 27, 1860 at Cooper Union, NY.  Then, about five years ago a storm damaged a locust tree in his back yard and had to come down.  Much to his surprise, his wife suggested he have it carved in the likeness of Abraham Lincoln.  He did some searching and found out about H. Dean Fox.  The sculpture is amazing, standing perhaps ten feet tall and looking over his patio.  A party was held on February 12, Lincoln's Birthday naturally, to dedicate the sculpture.  Then, once again, a tornado whipped through his neighborhood this past October, and damaged two Maple trees in his front yard.  
Closeup of the sculpture shows the
white eyes that perhaps are nail heads.
Click on photos to enlarge.
Another call to Dean and the results are once again outstanding.  Al showed me the small sculpture, that he had purchased some time ago, that he gave to Dean as a guide.  We talked for the better part of the afternoon and then he asked me if there was one or two favorite stories that I have written for my blog over the years.  Thought for a while and told him one of my favorites about a former student I coached and then had in class, then he told me that he, with two repaired knees and one hip, and his wife entered the recent Red Rose Run in downtown Lancaster.  "Check out the results in the newspaper.  I finished dead last, #474.  But, I finished it!" he said.  You know, sometimes, while searching for stories to publish here, I find some of the most interesting, personable and wonderful people from all over the world. And …  I just finished talking to one of them!  Our conversation, if just for a few hours on a beautiful summer day, brought back memories of good times and friends we both knew.  There really are many good people in this world who you happen upon, by accident, from time to time who make your life fun, exciting and rewarding.  Al is one of them!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Matthew Brady photograph that was reproduced on Al's barn.
Autograph from H. Dean Fox can be seen on his newest sculpture along Marietta Ave.
A closer look of the detail in the sculpture. 
The bust that was used for the sculpture stands in front of the final result done on the maple tree.

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