- Associated Press - Sunday, June 5, 2016

PICKRELL, Neb. (AP) - Nobody knows the town of Pickrell quite like Melvin Winkle.

Aside from being the town’s longest resident, Winkle for years has produced art projects around town, to the delight of many in the community, the Beatrice Daily Sun (https://bit.ly/1TY9rf5 ) reports. He has published maps of Pickrell for the public, identifying each residence and the surrounding stores and business, and has even been asked to participate in local art shows.

Winkle’s latest art project can be seen outside of the Pickrell Post Office, where a tree stump has become a display platform for Winkle’s artwork.

Winkle decorates the stump with a variety of pieces. All the decorations are made out of plywood with painted designs for practically every month of the year.

The winter months see Santa Clauses, snowmen, and Christmas trees in front of the post office, while Uncle Sams and Fourth of July displays can be seen during the summer.

The project has come to mean a lot to the creative retiree.

“Most of the folks really appreciate it,” Winkle said. “People in town like it and respond well to the projects.”

Pickrell, a small town of a couple hundred people, can be a very tight knit community, so the creative projects are well received and get a lot of visibility right outside the post office.

“It can be the talk of the town,” Winkle said. “I’m always glad that they see it and admire it.”

Not every one of his decorations can be as easily identified as a Santa Claus for Christmas or rabbits for Easter. Some are a little more abstract.

The design outside the post office right now gets the most conversation because no one knows what it is, Postmaster Linda Schuster said.

“I think that people are starting to think about what he’s doing this month or that month and they will tell me their disappointment if it’s not changed,” Schuster added.

The project began when Winkle noticed one day that the tree in front of the post office had been chopped down, a tree that his father had planted in 1963.

“They had to cut it down because it was interfering with the wires,” Schuster said. “He asked ‘What are you doing with the stump’ and after I said nothing he started to get all creative.”

It has become his own little art project, Schuster said, adding one woman even said that she wanted him to work at her craft show.

The piece currently in front of the post office is an abstract bird design, but with the Fourth of July right around the corner, an Uncle Sam design will be making its appearance soon enough.

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Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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