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  • Writer's picturePaul


Smile for the camera: The, er, happy couple (Public domain)

Edward VIII’s marriage to American socialite Wallis Simpson might have led to the Abdication Crisis in the king’s native UK, but in Simpson’s hometown of Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, the imminent nuptials were the cause for considerable celebration. And, in the case of local shopkeeper Hyram L Hegerty, was a chance to exercise an, er, incredible hidden talent.

Hegerty ran a drugstore/golf equipment/ammunition shop in Blue Ridge Summit, selling pharmaceuticals to the local population; golf clubs and balls to golfers at the local Monterey Golf Club (one of the oldest in America); and guns and ammunition to local hunting community.

He was also, by all accounts, something of a frustrated artist—and when local gal Wallis Simpson finally wed the former king of England in France in June 1937, Hyram celebrated the event by building a life-size effigy of the happy couple out of spent bullets and shotgun shells that he collected from a local shooting range in nearby Smithsburg.

The curious sculpture—complete with the Duke of Windsor’s characteristic top hat—was displayed outside Hyram’s store, and remained in place for several months, becoming something of a local landmark in the otherwise sleepy little town.

Alas, the sculpture did not last long on public display: weakened by wind and rain (and steadily chipped away at by souvenir-seeking sightseers), Hyram told the Franklin County Observer in January 1938 that he had been, “with regret, compelled to move my tribute into my storeroom,” out of fear that the somewhat rickety artwork wouldn’t last much longer. There it seemingly gathered dust, before—according to local legend—reportedly being sold or scrapped by Hyram’s widow after his death in 1949.

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