I grew up in the Maryland foothills in a house on a ridge overlooking 200 acres of woods. The area had been logged 30 years before, but trees grow quickly there, and there are a nice mix of tree species. One species, devil's walking stick, grows there and in Chicago, too. It has many very sharp thorns along its trunk. When I was a kid walking in those woods with my dad on a very steep high slope above a stream, I started to slip over the side and I grabbed the nearest tree, which unfortunately was a devil's walking stick, and while it broke my slide, it was a painful handful of thorns.
Since it was a frequent hiking trail for us, my Dad decided to make the path a little safer.
And he made a walking stick for me out of the devil's walking stick.