City Quotient: What's the Story Behind the Wooden Figurine Near Flower Child?

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Just south of Flower Child on High Street in the Short North is a worn, wooden, grinning figure about 4 or 5 feet tall, chained in place. What's the story of this oddity?Those of a certain age (CQincluded) will recall a time when hippies roamed the earth. Not to worry, though: The species has been commemorated in the Short North. It's no mistake that this fellow stands next to Flower Child, since store owner Joe Valenti also owns the sculpture. Better yet, Valenti was born at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco, the ground zero of hippiedom. The sculpture is a fine example of chainsaw art, sporting the traditional uniform of long hair, headband, vest, bell-bottoms and peace sign necklace. His left hand is missing, but dollars to doughnuts it was in the V sign symbolizing "Peace, man." He came 12 years ago from Yellow Springs, appropriately enough, since in the '60s, Antioch College was the Berkeley of the Midwest. The sculpture is untitled and the artist is unknown, but the dude is Flower Child's mascot and has even been kidnapped (and returned) twice, hence the chains that bind him. Today, his original era is ever more remote, but that sculpture tucked into the parking lot entrance arch on North High Street can take us back to what was a really cool time in our history.

Jeff Darbee is a preservationist, historian and author in Columbus. Send your questions to, and the answer might appear in a future column.