When a storm ravaged a tree on the steep embankment of his property at 1396 Auburn Road in Peru about 25 to 30 years ago, Albert Murphy had an idea.

“The storm blew one big branch down in my driveway, another across the main road,” he said. “I had them cut it all down except for just above where his head is now, and I had them leave a big branch sticking out. They thought it was strange, you know, but I knew just what I wanted to do with it. But I didn’t tell anybody.”

A few days later, he got to cutting, carving and finally painting. When it was done, he had a giant figure of a man waving with one arm, that big branch.

“I found another branch from the tree and carved that out and bolted it to his side for the other arm. He even lights up at night,” Murphy said.

A few years later, the ice storm of 1998 “did a number” on another tree at the other end of the embankment.

“Somebody told me I should make a lady to keep the man company,” Murphy said. “So that’s what I did. It didn’t take as long, maybe a day. It gets easier once you have done one and know what you’re doing.”  

The old, weathered pair have stood vigil, weathering storms, sun and rain. But they’ll soon have some company.

“They both need some attention, and I think when I’m done putting up these others, I plan to give them some attention,” Murphy said as he anchored the latest figure.

“You see, I had these other big trees next to my house, and I thought they might be trouble, so I had my son come over and cut them down,” he said. “I began carving and painting them and pretty much have worked on them all summer.”

Two boys and a young girl will stand between the two old icons — a family raised and molded by the steward of the property.

Asked if he had names for them, Murphy thought for a second.

“I guess I don’t,” he said. “Man and woman is all I have ever called them. I’ll have to think about that one now.”

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