Needless to say, this chair gets a high level of respect from everyone in this household because we know it's been around and has seated generations of family members before us that are now gone and buried. It's a heavy concept. I've calculated that this chair must be at least a century old.
My great-grandmother lived in Palestine, Texas and she lived with sophistication and elegance as a very educated, progressive woman for her day. Her family owned and operated the local grocery store. In fact, in the photo below you will see the parade cart pulled through town to advertise their store while participating in the festivities. They lived in town, in a large three story Southern house that would make your jaw drop open.
|My great-grandmother Boyd's store advertisement|
during the town parade. I can only imagine the year.
I never saw Grandma Pearl Boyd's formal dining room displayed in all its Southern Grandeur, but I did have one chair in our house while growing up that had belonged to her. It seemed everyone got a little bit of everything once she passed away. Since my family was the last to get into town once she died, we were literally left going through the debris everyone else had left behind. This chair was one of the things that someone didn't want or didn't have room to stuff into their loaded down vehicle. That's how we ended up with it. The chair had been left behind in the rambling old house along with papers strewn about the place and empty closets full of discarded hat boxes that I also brought home. My mother would later give the hat boxes that I'd kept in my room to someone else, without asking me...she never realized how important those hat boxes had been to me. Oh well. At least I have this gorgeous chair!
Years later, another family member would like to have this chair for their own house. But, it's been with my immediate family for more than 30 years and with our immediate family it will stay. One day, it will be passed down to the next generation within our immediate family.
Pearl Boyd died in her late 80's, about 34 years ago.
It is nice to have a part of her in my house, a part of her that meant something to her. I have such sweet memories with Grandma Boyd, especially her willingness to nurture the love of reading.
The chair that had been part of her dining room table set is made priceless by the needlepoint design on the backrest and on the seat that Grandma Boyd stitched and upholstered herself. This particular chair is a "head" chair because it has arms. She would have had two of these, at least. I feel incredible that we have been blessed to own one of these end chairs.
An antique chair like this is properly moved by picking it up by the seat, not the arms. Since this chair is more of a "display" piece, we keep it in a certain place that highlights its beauty, but we do not leave it in a place to be incorporated with the regular seating. I especially work hard to keep the needlepoint work preserved for as long as possible.
However, we did have a couple come to stay a few nights at our house so they could take care their personal business in the Houston area and with me downstairs, they decided to make use of this antique chair in a way that would be odd and truly disrespectful. One evening I walked into the guest bedroom to find them unpacking, and I had brought in a couple of extra pillows. Looking over next to the bed, I was shocked to find they had appropriated that antique chair; it had been wedged in between other furniture and scraped, so that its needle-point SEAT could be used as a nightstand table, complete with a iced-tea drink sitting directly atop the threads - the threads that my great-grandmother had hand-sewn.
I looked around at all the other available furnishings that could've been used to suit their purpose and was stunned that this chair, a chair that was KNOWN to be a treasured antique could be so carelessly appropriated. It seemed to be an ugly act to state their feelings of disrespect without having to say a word.
The people making this grave error in judgment were not young adults, they were old enough to know better and should have attempted to use the brain God gave them to not have used this chair in this manner, a chair that is obviously a prized antique. Worse for them, this couple likes to brag about being self-taught antique experts.
One thing it did teach me that night...that some people think everything you have is worthless because it doesn't belong to them. My husband and I take very good care of our antiques. With our care, these furnishings will be passed down to our daughters and hopefully will be used for many generations.
I've learned to put some things behind a locked door when these people come to visit and let me tell you, this person gets set off like a firework when there is a locked door she can't open, even though it's not her house, none of her belongings are here, and it's none of her business what is behind that locked door, she goes a bit nuts wanting the DAMN KEY to unlock the door! It's been very revealing and a bit humorous!
As for the chair, I love looking at pictures of my grandmother's house from around 1930 and to see a piece of furniture in her living room that I now use in my own house. There's a sense of stewardship over antiques. The way I see it, all of those former generations were able to keep these furnishings nice and in good shape through their own years and I certainly don't want to be the owner who was the one who screwed up with keeping the furnishing in good order. If the person before me could keep it polished and kept clean in the 30 years they cared for it, surely I can do the same.
Needless to say, I try to keep the antiques free from damage by people who may not realize an antique is in their presence. But, most anyone on the planet can look at this old chair and know that it is special and probably very old. Most anyone would not dare to look at this chair with the old fabric seating and delicate needlepoint backing, then say, "Oh, I think I'll use this old chair as a make-shift table to hold all of my things, including my drink that's dripping all over the place." No, I don't think many people would be that dense or perhaps that calculating in their resentment at the family treasures we've worked hard to maintain.
But, careless behavior is definitely revealing. Sometimes our actions are indeed worth a 1,000 words.
I am doing my best to make sure my children have some of the best pieces in their own homes one day. I think the passing down of antiques does not happen until each household has raised their own children. So, we'll see --- our antiques have a lot of aging to still do before they are passed to my own children.
Until then, with proper care, our antiques will continue to accumulate value both monetarily and to grow more endearing in our heart, day by day.