published Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Whatever happened to ... Stick Man still tending to his thicket

Glen Lee, 88, continues work on a maze of sticks that he has been constructing for the past four years at the foot of Signal Mountain.
Glen Lee, 88, continues work on a maze of sticks that he has been constructing for the past four years at the foot of Signal Mountain.
Photo by Dan Henry.

Question: Whatever happened to Stick Man?

Answer: Glen Lee still sits on a plastic chair every day inside a jungle of tangled branches and waits for visitors. At 90, he still swings a hatchet and a hammer and makes sense of what winds and rain rip from these trees.

Since the Times Free Press wrote about his maze of twigs on the patch of land off Mountain Creek Road between the old Kmart and Vintage Wines and Spirits, he has met more people who wonder at his beautiful and random creation.

Drivers take detours to see him. Art enthusiasts tell him it's some kind of folk art. He has cut a milk bottle in half to hold donations. "All Donations Appreciated. The maze starts here," a sign reads. There is no money today, but some days there are a few quarters, a $5 bill, he said.

Trimmed, misshapen walking sticks sit nearby on display-- price, $5.

Glen hears visitors and comes out from the thicket, eager and bright-eyed.

He tells them the same stories he tells everyone. Then he retells them like a record on repeat. He was a builder all his life. He could build anything. He killed a bunch of men in World War II, and he can't stop thinking about those cold nights and those bullets.

Glen mentions Alzheimer's.

He has built a lot in the last few years. The branches don't make rooms anymore, just narrow paths that wind and intersect.

"I had rooms, but I couldn't get anyone to rent them," he said. "That's a joke."

"Sometimes I forget where I am going."

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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