Saturday, October 14, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 36

Since I previously wrote about a treasured object I received from my mother, it only seems fair to do the same for my dad. This week's writing prompt is:

What is an object you treasure that you got from your father?

the chair
My mother died in a car accident in 1989, and when my father got older he told my siblings and me that if there was anything in the house that we wanted, we should take it. There is one chair that he and mom owned that had always fascinated me as it was solid wood and had a face carved in the back of it. I've never seen anything like it before or since. Even better, it had a great story behind it.

In 1944 my dad was stationed at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. My mom, who was expecting a baby, and their 2 year old son Roy were with him. Dad received orders to ship off to Chabua, India, so he moved his family back to Cincinnati. They took up residence with my maternal grandparents. One day dad received a letter from mom telling him that the Koch's house was for sale, and asked if she should buy it. The Koch's lived right next door to Mike and Mayme Crusham, so she wouldn't have to move far. Before dad even had a chance to reply, he got another letter telling him, "I bought the Koch house!"

August and Louisa Koch left a few pieces of furniture in the house, including the above-mentioned chair. She told mom that the chair was 100 years old at that time. The chair moved with mom and dad from Cincinnati to Chicago, then to Des Moines, and then back to Cincinnati. After its final move, dad refinished the chair, removing the heavy, dark stain replacing it with a warm oak finish. Those of us who watch Antiques Roadshow know that the appraisers cringe when the original patina is removed from an old piece of furniture, but I have to say the results brought out the beauty of the wood grain as well as the features of the face.

As my husband and I live in a 1902 house that is filled with antiques, I told dad that I would like the chair. None of my siblings collect antiques or seemed interested in it. But dad would not allow me to take the chair. He said that Aunt Marie (my mom's older sister) liked to sit in it when she came over for a visit.

It was not until after my dad died in 2004 that the chair made its final journey to our home in St. Louis. I proudly display it in our entry foyer. When a new antique store opened by our house offering free appraisals, I did not hesitate to take the chair in for her to take a look at it. She told me that the chair was from the 1850s (so Louisa Koch was pretty close in her assessment of the chair's age), and was referred to as a North Wind Chair. The face carved into the seat was not intended to scare small children but rather to dispel bad spirits. The appraiser was excited to see the chair as she had only read about them. When I asked her if dad had diminished the value by refinishing it, she agreed that it was always best to have it in its original state. But then she said to me, "Do you like it like this?" When I told her the wood of the chair and the detail is much prettier this way, she said, "That is all that matters." Too true - I love it and am happy to have it in my family and my home.

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