“In northern Wisconsin, either you sheared Christmas trees or you peeled ‘popple’ for a summer job,” say Gordy Lekies, remembering his youth. Using his trusty chainsaw, he peeled ‘popple’ for ten or eleven cents per stick. That summer job turned into a career for “Chainsaw Gordy.” As he updated the chainsaws he was using, Lekies started developing his own chainsaw collection.
Lekies says neighbors would come over with their own chainsaws to add to his collection; antique power tools that were taking up too much space in their garages. He would also stop by garage sales in the area, especially early on in his collecting, and would scoop up the smaller chainsaws with the goal of finding the cheapest chainsaws he could find. With a keen eye, he could sometimes find chainsaws for as little as $1 or less. “A very high percentage of them would run if you went through the effort to clean them up and make them run,” says Lekies.
The problem however, was where to display his collection. Lekies can’t recall how he landed on the telephone pole as the perfect display method. He explains, “We put up one pole, put up another pole, put up another pole. All of a sudden, here it is!” He now has more than half a dozen telephone poles with chainsaws sticking through them lining the highway near his home, proving quite the spectacle for those that pass by. He says people like to take pictures of his collection, and often start conversations speaking of family members who owned similar chainsaws.
His passion for chainsaws evolved into restoration, and Lekies now says he’s “going to be able to put together a mobile museum of the evolution of the chainsaw” to showcase his collection. His chainsaws run the gamut from older, heavy models to light and quiet models, and he wants to show how the tool he’s made a living with has evolved over the years.