In these terrible times, the one silver lining I've found has been returning to my old stomping grounds. After 5 years in Morgantown, 3 in Columbus, an entire 2 months in New York City, it’s been a long while since I’ve had an elongated amount of time at home, in Wheeling, West Virginia.
The cultural mecca of the northern panhandle West Virginia, Wheeling is home to legends such as Pittsburgh Pirates owner, Bob Nutting, and that guy who’s mugshot always goes viral for huffing metallic spraypaint. Coincidentally both of these men have the same decision making abilities.
Each day spent in my birthplace has been filled with reminiscing, talk of better times. Whether that be storytelling, looking through old yearbooks, or just driving around, pointing out the spots I’ve made out with tons of stunningly beautiful 10’s (graded on West Virginia curve). But on one of my drives, I saw a new structure had been erected, surely intended to act as a tourist trap. It worked. I immediately pulled over to get a closer look.
As I stepped closer and closer my flesh was beset with goosebumps, and the monuments sheer aura let me know I was on sacred ground.
A regal brick courtyard surrounded an old tree. The lantern adorned stone wall made sure there was no confusing this site's significance.
Before I reveal the shrine in its entirety, it’s time to guess what lives at the top of the tree.
Please lock in your answer.
If you guessed “It's just a giant stump with an old shed roof”, you are correct!
It's worth noting, this courtyard did NOT exist when this was just a boring tree. It was built specifically for this art installation.
I was bewildered by this decision. There was no signage, Google yielded zero results, and not a single promotional brochure found in the Wendy’s foyer. I was half expecting a door on the other side with decrepit old sage inside, existing only give me a quest, but alas, there was none to be found.
Shed Tree had fully infiltrated my mind. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and couldn’t get this imposing obelisk out of my head. I had made countless calls, questioned everybody I knew, and the answer was always some variation of “I think it’s just a tall stump with a roof.”
Its lack of purpose was a huge mistake for Wheeling Tourism. It made me sick to see such a beautiful landmark go unheralded. So I did what any citizen concerned with the economic growth of his birthplace would do, and sent a brief 800 word email the mayor with some ideas.
Below is a direct copy of our correspondence.
Dearest Mayor Elliott,
I know these times are awfully busy for you, wth[v reelection righ;rt arounf the corner (sorry for the typos, I'm writing this as I'm driving down National Road and just hit 19 potholes in a row), but I could not go another second without sharing some ideas about the diamond in the rough that many locals call "Roof Stump", "Shed Tree" and "that fucking thing" located in Elm Grove.
As a concerned Wheelingite, with our city's best intentions in mind, I think we are missing a beautiful opportunity for gathering, community, and business. Please take a look at the following surefire stump-based ideas that are bound to help Wheeling return to the booming metropolis of yesteryear.
Sitting on a beautiful plot of land directly across from McDonalds, Roof Stump would make the perfect backdrop for lovers creating an eternal bond. Saying vows in front of the hallowed stump acting as sole witness will certainly make divorce rates plummet. Attached is a visualization.
Pretty powerful, huh?
The most popular local merch (for now) belongs to the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers, and there is no close second. But their Achilles Heel? Hockey is seasonal. Do you know was is not seasonal? A dead tree, Mr. Mayor. A dead ass tree. Winter, Summer, Spring, and Fall, locals and visitors alike will represent their favorite roofed half-tree with pride. Attached are a few mockups that will fly off shelves faster than a Paul Bissonnette shift.
Marketing to the Youth
Much like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (an unknown West Virginia, as teeth naturally dissolve rather than fall out) the Roof Tree will have its own lore surrounding it.
Introducing Adelbert, named after famous U.S. Army General Adelbert R. Buffington, this lovable yet grumpy old owl with an undescended testicle (non-negotiable) lives atop the shed roof. Much like the Egyptian Sphinx, Adelbert will ask a near-impossible riddle to wandering children, like "Hoo's (owl noise) idea was this?". I can easily see a line of Adelbert educational books, direct to television movies, and even grand marshaling the Wheeling Christmas parade.
If you choose to go with a mascot stationed here, not only will thing bring children joy, but bring upwards of 2 (two) much needed part-time jobs to the area.
To encourage wellness in the community, each year, in front of all the ShedHeads (fans of the stump), the most fit men and women will be awarded the titles of Trunk Hunk and Evergreen Queen, respectively. Not only will this health conscious effort make for fun competition, it will also bring in hundreds of vendors, pumping cash right into the city.
If you decide to use all of these, or only run with 2-3, please just let me know. All I ask for in return is for me and my podcast co-host and Wheeling native, Kyle Bauer, have a ribbon cutting ceremony to christen the new spiritual city center. A low key affair (4-5 thousand people).
Is it cool if I use your response in a blog?
Now we wait.
Mr. Elliott, the ball is in your court.
It has been 24 hours. May need to take the ribbon cutting into my own hands.