May 3, 2021

Old Wood

            We are out to dinner in Massachusetts, my husband, his brother Aaron, and Aaron’s wife. We are talking about furniture.

Aaron took home the coffee table, a coveted Mid-Century Modern piece, when my in-law’s Manhattan apartment sold. He wanted only a few items. Pieces of memory, he said.

            Called Long John, the table was a creation of man commingling with Mother Nature, whorls of walnut cut cleanly from the umbilical cord, shaped with miter saw and bench chisel, slimmed with block plane and sandpaper, massaged with oil. Shiny on the showroom floor. 

            Sixty years ago, my father-in-law lugged it uptown from downtown on the subway. He christened it with a cup of coffee he set, still steaming, on the glowing wood. Heat left a ring. My mother-in-law’s cigarette left a scar. Actors, directors, singers and stage managers left candles to burn. They smoked joints, spilled Scotch, and scraped high heels against its bronze body. The gloss faded to a soft shine, then to a rawness that revealed the years. A life of memory in a coffee table.

    Beauty is so individual; what we love differs depending on who we are. 

    Aaron is telling a story. The moving guys broke one of the table’s legs. Aaron took the table to a furniture repair guy near his home in Amherst. Two months later he went to retrieve it.   

      The furniture repair guy carried it in. The table glowed. 

    “It had all these burns and scrapes,” he said. “I refinished it. Isn’t it great?” 

     Aaron stared, speechless.

     Sometimes a favor is an infringement of faith. What we love differs, depending on who we are.

This week, I ask you to think about – and perhaps write about – objects you keep that are more about the beauty of nostalgia than the need for usefulness. Share what you write with me, and if you are so inclined, take a photo of the object and send it along too.

4 thoughts on “May 3, 2021”

  1. I love this piece! Just so happens I recently took an old Duncan Five table for repairs. These “antiques” all have such loving stories attached! Dick Allen

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