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Tarzan, The Amazing Tree Man

He's a colorful character that climbs trees in a single bound, sings and smokes while suspended in the air, trimming offending limbs with his chainsaw.

I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it. When one thinks of a tree service, we visualize a motorized cherry picker, a crew with protective helmets and radio communication between the elevated worker and ground crew.  

Tarzan doesn't fit this genre. I had only heard stories, but the legend does exist. My husband recently hired Tarzan for some preseason tree work. As I approached the driveway, I see a crazy man suspended high in a tree with harnesses.

He’s wearing an American flag bandana and banana-colored sunglasses. A cigarette teeters from his mouth while a Husqvarna chainsaw dangles on a rope. I took it all in, the attached harnesses, bounded ropes and reinforcements, all done to ensure his safety. I felt like I was gawking at a circus performer. 

He stretches and leans, holding the chainsaw with one hand. His female crew works together down below, maneuvering the ropes like a pulley. With each cut limb, they gently lower the wooden mass to the ground. Tarzan is quick to point out what hasn't been done properly, often using colorful vocabulary. The lesson is immediately taken, but with sarcasm, rolled eyes and few vocal exchanges. 

I slowly approach the back patio, mouth open and eyes wide. Three hardworking women are picking up large limbs and dragging them towards the rear field.  In between limb removal, they start chainsaws with one pull and cut with confidence and familiarity. Tarzan sees my disbelief.  

“Hey there! Bet you've never seen a squirrel this big! Huh?”  

He had me there. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen a grown man, grinning from ear to ear, suspended high in a tree with a running chainsaw and lit cigarette.  

I was glued with intrigue and disbelief. The more I watched, the more questions I had. He climbed down, took off his harness, lit another cigarette and extended his hand.

“I’m Tarzan!”

We exchanged introductions. I wanted to ask his real name, but felt it would be a breach of etiquette by doing so. I quickly realized that’s how he works. He prefers his trademarked reputation.  

I’d heard many stories of this man from Windsor Locks that climbs trees, often providing entertainment to observers not privy to his work ethic. I began following him around like a lost dog, trying to figure out what makes him tick, his story. Fortunately he didn’t mind my presence, often pausing to scream politically incorrect instructions to his crew.

“What’s up with the women?” I asked. I’d never seen a female crew in such a labor-intensive capacity.  

“Easy! They work hard, on time and [aren’t] hung-over from the night before!” 

Something tells me he's had issues with male crewmembers in the past.

Tarzan has been climbing trees for 30 years. He’s broken 105 bones, works year-round and loves what he does. He’s not intimidated by snow or cold weather. During and after the recent and unexpected storm in late October, he worked seven days a week, dawn to dusk. He personally had 12 days of no power or hot water and while his entire crew came down with pneumonia. He kept working. More than 140 voicemails went unanswered.  

“I always have work. Everywhere I go, someone has a job for me.” He paused, looked away and laughed. “Even at the courthouse, the cops that pull me over! They tell me, ‘Tarzan, I got a job for you!’ It’s the best job in the world. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”  

His sincerity and enthusiasm is believable and unquestioned.  

On the side of the house, we have a large Magnolia tree and Japanese maple. The storm severely crippled them both. I dragged him over and sympathetically showed him the damage.  

“You got a pole saw?” he asked.

Although we have a number of yard toys, a pole saw has yet to join the group.

“No problem, I got one at home,” he said.

Tarzan and “his girl” jumped on the back of his Suzuki motorcycle and sped down the driveway. Within minutes, he returned, his female passenger holding a long pole saw. It was an unconventional retrieval method, but a successful solution.  

He climbed the magnolia while calming my nerves and explaining each trim. 

“Don’t worry. She’ll come back healthier than before. She’ll bloom for you. It’s nature’s way, so don’t fight it, work with it.”  

He harnesses up again to climb yet another tree. I watched him scale a tall, mature birch. He continued to smoke, shake his hips and sing Tommy Tutone and David Bowie songs. Within four hours, Tarzan had successfully trimmed five trees.

I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t see it.  

He’s honest with his answers, speaks his mind and is definitely comfortable in his own skin. He’s crass with his approach, yet charming with his delivery. Leave your normal assumptions of hired contractors and customer relations at the door (or in a tree). Tarzan is a trip and a huge treat.

Sas March 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Cami this is simply refreshing. You really captured his love of life and love of his job. My favorite quote: “What’s up with the women?” I asked. I’d never seen a female crew in such a labor-intensive capacity. “Easy! They work hard, on time and [aren’t] hung-over from the night before!”
jtarno March 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Are his prices reasonable and please provide contact information? Thanks, Jona
Cami Beiter March 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Jona, I'd be happy to provide his contact info. Send me an email and I'll forward along.
robin johnson March 19, 2012 at 11:37 AM
He's great, known him for the 30 years. Last summer he came by to put a swing in a tree for my granddaughter. He does live in the moment
Ron Peterson March 19, 2012 at 02:00 PM
It's such a pleasure to observe a truly skilled practitioner in any pursuit, easily exhibiting solutions and techniques that seem daring and often counter-intuitive to most of us. It scares the devil out of me to think of being high in a tree with a chain saw.
Susan LeClerc March 19, 2012 at 02:05 PM
What a great article! I've had Tarzan do a bunch of tree work. He IS a bit crazy. I once watched him perched at the top of my neighbor's tree which was swaying in the wind during a snowstorm!! I also love his business cards - a stick figure man holding a chain saw. Very appropriate!!
Jan Porri March 19, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Sure hope he is a licensed arborist if he is trimmming, and of course fully insured... so many aren't.
Susi March 19, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Love this and will e- mail for his contact info as well. Love the description and can picture you following him around to figure it out.
HH March 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I thought I would provide my two cents. I have used and will be using later this year the services of Tree Works (Dennis Hannon). He has always been on time when we have scheduled an appointment and his quotations have been competitive and affordable. While the services I have asked to be completed did not require an arborist (of which he mentioned in our conversation he is not) I couldn’t be more happy with his services. He was on time, cleaned up after the job, and left the yard better than how he found it. I would highly recommend his services.
TM March 21, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Tarzan is lucky he's only broken 105 bones ... so far. From the picures, it looks like he is violating even the most basic safety regulations. I'd certainly ask to see a copy of his liability policy before I let him on my property. This guy is a serious accident waiting to happen.
J. Wiley Dumas March 22, 2012 at 02:28 PM
This man violates every safety protocal there is. Having him work on your property is only encouraging an highly unsafe practice. Don't turn stupidity into celebrity.
Olive3 March 29, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Does anyone have a back yard mechanic, friend who does home repair? Both are taking risks that someone doesn't get hurt, tire doesn't come off at 65 miles an hour, the jack holds the car up during that oil change or that home repair doesn't fail, causes a fire, etc. Just because "Tarzan" is high up in a tree (something most of us would never attempt) doesn't mean people are reckless and stupid for having him trim their trees. He has more hands on experience and is "one" with the trees than maybe even Johnny Weissmuller himself! He will be honest, whether you like what he says or not. His word is his word. And yes, he is a character, the kind this world needs more of. I know when he is in the neighborhood...I can hear someone singing from the trees. Love it. God bless him and keep him and his work safe.
Danno March 29, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Way to ruin such a positive story.......
Danno March 29, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Great story! So well written. I really enjoyed it. We truly need more people like this in the world. Lets keep it positive folks!
Denise R November 26, 2012 at 10:32 PM
The bucket operator from All Year is very good. Prompt service and highly skilled.
Pat February 24, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Lol. 105 broken bones out of a guy who is not a licensed arborist. There is a reason he won't give his real name. You can't prune trees in this state without an arborist license, he can be fined and shut down by the Ct DEEP. What I find truly frightening is that people are referring this type of hack work. There are a number of local tree company's with all the proper licensing and insurance to perform this type of work. This guy learns from his mistakes, and takes to many chances. When he breaks his neck on your property without insurance I hope you as the home owner don't lose everything that you have worked for. And unfortunately his time will come, you don't get hurt that much and often without a huge accident.
Saul Freedman February 24, 2013 at 07:54 PM
The more hilarious part of this is people like Cami are the first to cry for licenses for everything under the sun and safety first and all this and that, then a strapping jock with a chainsaw shows up and puts on a show and they melt in his hand.

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