Original Shoe Tree becomes a ‘Giving Tree’ thanks to Winslow

UW-Green Bay has its own “The Giving Tree” story thanks to the efforts of Student Life Program Coodinator Grant Winslow.

In 2002 when the original Shoe Tree went down in a storm, Winslow had the forethought to preserve some slabs off the trunk, which he stored in Student Life storage, for, oh, 15 years. He said that through the years he was reminded occasionally by others of the large piece of oak taking up room and collecting dust. With the American Intercultural Center move this summer, the slab ended up in Winslow’s office… the impetus for Winslow to take it home and spend two weeks sanding, staining and sealing it, and building a base. It now sits in the Student Life Office as a showpiece and a reminder of one of UW-Green Bay’s longest-standing traditions. And we’re sure it’s enough to make Shel Silverstein proud.

“I’m not a carpenter, especially not a finish carpenter, so it’s not a showroom piece, but it does look good and is functional.” In fact, several offices have offered to take it off of his hands.

Why did Winslow make the effort? He explains,

“In 2002 when the tree went down I had only been working here for six years and we had so few true campus traditions. It was horrible that one of the few we did have had been taken away from us. I remember the students that were on campus that summer walking around saying ‘did you hear? The Shoe Tree went down last night.’ They were truly upset. There was talk of finding a new location but I wanted to make sure that a piece of the original tree survived in some way. Later that year when the new tree was dedicated some alumni came up to throw their shoes in the tree before a basketball game. Alumnus Aaron Richardson ’00, Business Administration, asked me if there were any more pieces left. I can’t remember if I found a log that came from a big branch or a bunch of slices or “cookies” and gave them to him. He showed back up a while later with a Phoenix carved from the piece. I have that in my office.”

We still don’t have many campus traditions — the International Dinner and Jim Wand (25 years) are older, but the Shoe Tree is unique and I’ll bet there’s not another campus in the world that has one.  I’m hoping the painting of the Phoenix in MAC Hall Circle becomes the next one.”

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