Monday, March 23, 2009

The Chair

This week I posted pictures of an antique chair on my Shadow Shot Sunday meme. I love this chair very much, and I started thinking of its history.

I have no idea when it was made, or even who made it. I believe it was an ancestor of mine, but could possibly have been a friend who gave it to the family. I do know that it was hand made by someone not terribly skilled in the art. The rungs are unevenly spaced, and even the crosspiece in between the two front legs is at a bit of an angle.

Somewhere there is a photograph of my mother, about the age of one, seated on this chair. My mother was born in 1895, so we know the chair was around before that date. In the photo, it looks much as it does today. But it was to undergo many changes in the years between.

Mom was not a person who valued antiques. I could tell you some stories about what she did to furniture that would turn your hair white. The chair, it seems, was always in her home, but she was never satisfied with how it looked. I believe the first coat of paint was a dark blue. Over the years, she added coats of pain whenever the mood struck. At times it was green, red, goes on. I really don't know how many coats of paint there were. When I first saw it, it was painted brown, with some of the rungs in yellow. That's how it remained for many years. I always thought the color combination was pretty ugly.

Because it is a nursing chair - or some call it a sewing chair - the seat is only a foot from the floor. Ideal for a child. One of my favorite radio shows was Captain Midnight, and I sent in box tops, or whatever was called for at the time, and received a cardboard airplane dashboard/instrument panel, a rudder and a foot pedal, just like the Captain's. I think there was a pilot's cap that went with it too. I set it up in front of the chair in my bedroom, and flew with the Captain all over the world. That chair and I have had many adventures!

I never parted with the chair, but I must admit it was consigned to the storage shed or in the attic for much of the time. But I used to look at the picture of my mother sitting on it, and wished it could be restored to its original state. But somehow, I never got around to having it done.

As an adult, my son has turned to a hobby of woodworking. A couple of Christmases ago, I told him I didn't want anything for Christmas except to have that chair refinished. I told him this long before the holiday of course. Joe is not one to rush into a project (I'm being kind. He is the world's worst procrastinator.) so I didn't really think he would do it, but I handed over the chair, and it went to live in his workshop. On Christmas Eve, he walked into my house carrying the chair with a lovely big bow on it! And it looked just as it had in the photograph! I wanted to cry.

So that is the story of the chair. It sits in my living room now. Sometimes Raggedy Ann sits on it. She is a blonde Raggedy, as you can see, instead of a redhead, because she was made for my blonde daughter, Kathryn, by her godmother. Kathryn hasn't yet seen fit to keep her. Sometimes, as we grow older, we grow more sentimental about such things. She may decide at some point that she would like to have her back. Meantime, Raggedy Ann is waiting.

6 comments: said...

Love this story. I too am sentimental about such things when they are tied to memories.
Your son was wonderful to surprise you with his labor of love.

Daryl said...

Sweet chair ... looks lovely all refinished

Dianne said...

I loved the shadow shot post and I'm happy to read the chair's story

kenju said...

I am very sentimental about things that have meaning in our family. I love your chair and the doll.

me ann my camera said...

I really enjoyed everything you wrote about the chair. The warmth of the wood is gorgeous. What a wonderful refinishing job. When it comes to family antiques, you are there is no value higher than sentimental value. Riel

KG said...

I love the story of that chair. I've got a lot of old family antique furniture around here. Sadly, the stuff is so fragile and easily destroyed by rambunctious toddlers ... *sigh* I hope it survives another generation!